March 30, 2011

Welsh Cakes for a Royal Wedding

Canada is in the Commonwealth and, even though we have had our our own constitution fully in place since 1982, we still acknowlege the Queen as our head of state - which means she is on our coins, our twenty dollar bills, and on special Royal occasions, our stamps. We have a Prime Minister, not a President, and a Queen's representative called the Governor General who resides in our capital city, Ottawa.  The Queen calls Canada her 'home away from home' (after Balmoral Castle, I'm sure) and Prince William and Kate Middleton have taken us up on our offer to host them for nine days of their honeymoon tour. Of course, much of the country is pretty excited about that and many will even show up to see them in person.

When I was a child I watched the Queen's televised annual Christmas message with my parents and found I was interested in the doings of her family. My dad's mom, whom we called Nana, had a real love for the Royal Family.  According to her my Great-Nana, who had come to Canada from London, had the same tartan as the Queen Mother, although I was never able to figure out what that meant to my family.  My Nana brought us souvenirs of Charles and Diana's wedding when she visited one summer.  We watched Charles and Di's wedding on television and when baby William was born, my Nana sent me a collectible spoon commemorating the great event. When I visited my sisters in Winnipeg the summer I turned eighteen, we went to see Prince Andrew and his bride Sarah Ferguson on their honeymoon tour.  They looked like very normal people, and I was, I admit, a little disappointed. Perhaps I thought they would glow or something.  When my daughter, Emma the horse lover was little, she saw a picture of Queen Elizabeth riding a horse and decided she was alright.  Emma even wrote her a letter that said, "Dear Queen Elizabeth,  I like horses, too!"  Unfortunately, I forgot to mail it.  I turned into a bit of a Royal watcher after my Nana got me started, and therefore, can be found skimming through Hello! Canada Magazine when in the supermarket checkout line or reaching for Majesty in the orthodontist's waiting room, rather than O Magazine or Prevention. 

So, being the Monarchist that I seem to find myself, I was a bit put out when listening to an interview with an American historian on CBC Radio the other day, when she said to the interviewer:  "So, I know you all have this thing with your ex-queen, like you all get excited when she's going to go to Banff of something like that."

The interviewer, Brent Bambry, sort of laughed uncomfortably and said, "Ex-Queen?  Do you know something I don't know?" 

The historian said, "Okay, your sort-of queen.  But you must admit, the whole relationship between Canada and the monarchy is ridiculous."

Bambry quickly changed the subject, most likely in an effort to calm those listeners who were probably already calling or emailing the station to protest, and asked her about her recent book on the annexation of Hawaii (which once had a monarchy, by the way) by the United States.  I thought the historian was quite rude, but more so, ignorant, about Canada's long, and in the words of our present Prime Minister Stephen Harper, "loyal and affectionate relationship" with Queen Elizabeth II and her predecessors.  If I had been so motivated to call the CBC, it would have been to complain about their guest not doing her homework.  As far as I know, our relationship to the Monarchy has never been the cause of any major strife, and in fact, the only reason my beautiful province of British Columbia is part of Canada is because Queen Victoria's governor James Douglas hopped to it and pronounced it Crown Land before the U.S. could annex it during the Cariboo Gold Rush.  (We screwed up over Alaska, and lost it, but that is a whole other long story.)  I know the historian interviewed does not represent the sentiment of the U.S. as a whole.  Plenty of Americans have great respect for the Royal Family, and treated Lady Diana as one of their own.

Banishing thoughts of scornful, mocking historians to the recesses of my mind, I was wondering what title the Queen would confer on Prince William and Kate when they are married a month from now.  According to my research ( ten minutes spent looking around on various royal-watcher websites), whatever title the Queen gives them on their wedding day, once Prince Charles becomes King, William will inherit the title Prince of Wales from his father and Kate will be Princess William of Wales, or something like that. In any case, I am looking forward to viewing the whole thing on television, though my family will tease me unmercifully for it.  Able to partake in neither the Royal Wedding Fruitcake nor the famous Chocolate Biscuit Cake because my 1987 within-ten-meters viewing of Andrew and Fergie was not enough of a connection be warrant an invitation to Westminster Abbey for Will and Kate's wedding, I will most likely commemorate the occasion with a pot of Earl Grey tea and a plate of Welsh cakes, a recipe I found years ago and make a few times every spring for my family.  Even if they don't care too much about the Royal Wedding, my family will enjoy the cakes, which are the size of a cookie, the texture of a scone, and the flavour of a delicate fruitcake. 

I include the recipe for Welsh Cakes here, in honour of the future Prince and Princess of Wales, in case there are others out there who would like to join me in making them.  They can be served with cheese, jam or butter or rolled in sugar when hot.  They really are good!  By the way, I won't be seeing Will and Kate when they come to Canada.  They are snubbing Vancouver in favour of Nunavut, but that's okay.  Judging from previous experience, I think I almost prefer to view my Royalty at a distance...or on TV.  Will and Kate, best of luck. I'm pulling for you. 

Welsh Cakes

2 cups all purpose flour (not self-raising)  (500 ml)
1/2 cup granulated sugar  (125 ml)
2 teaspoons baking powder  (10 ml)
1/2 teaspoon salt  (2 ml)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (1 ml)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon  (1 ml)
1/2 cup butter, margarine,  lard or even solidified coconut oil ( but you'd need to experiment with it)  (125 ml)
1/2 cup currants  (125 ml)
1/4 cup mixed candied citrus peel (or just the grated peel of a lemon or orange)  (50 ml)

1 egg
1/3 cup milk or substitute (soy, almond, rice, coconut, etc. milks)  (75 ml)
1/4 teaspoon almond flavouring (optional)  (1 ml)

Using large bowl, put flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon and stir together well.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  Stir in currants and peel.

Beat egg with fork.  Add egg and milk and almond flavouring (if using) to dry ingredients.  Stir into dough as for pie crust.  Roll 1/4 inch (2/3 cm) thick on floured surface.  Cut into 3 inch (7 cm) rounds with biscuit cutter.  Fry in ungreased frying pan over medium heat, letting rise a little and browning both sides.  To test pan for heat, drops of water should sizzle but not bounce around on pan.  Makes 2 dozen or more if smaller rounds are cut.

Enjoy, and happy baking! 



The above photo of Welsh cakes is from flickr and is also featured on squidoo, where more traditional Welsh recipes can be found.  The photo of Will and Kate was taken by Ben Stansal and was borrowed from the Guardian newspaper website.

March 24, 2011

Language Lessons

Canada is known as a bilingual country, but the working ability of most western Canadians to speak French is limited at best.  We all take French in school, most of us learning to conjugate a few verbs and to ask for directions to the bathroom by the time we graduate.  Some lucky kids, like my friend's daughter attend French Immersion schools in the nearby city where her mom travels to work each day, but most do not.  I knew a lot more French in high school than my public school friends because I went to a Catholic elementary school where it seemed to be more of a priority. My children are presently not even able to take French classes beyond their Grade 11 year; there simply is not the demand in their small public high school.  It is sad, really, that in our school system it has to be all French or almost nothing.  I believe that if we are to call ourselves a bilingual country, then a language program should be just as important as any other course in school.  I suppose I have felt that way for a long time because I continued to take French in college.

I was not the greatest French scholar, but I loved to speak it, even coming third in a regional high school French speech contest.  I wrote my speech on Vancouver's Expo 86, which I had been a part of for a week with a teen theatre group, putting on a play with an anti-nuclear message two or three times a day at the British Columbia Pavillion. 

During my second year of college I had the opportunity to participate with my class in an exchange with another college in Sept Iles, Quebec.  By the time I was in college I had been on an airplane only once and had never been east of Kenora, Ontario, so the prospect of an exchange was exciting.  Each college would host the other for two weeks, and Sept Iles came to us first.  We hosted them in Kootenay style, took them sledding, on sightseeing bus tours, etc., and introduced them to our friends at the college. I designed a t-shirt for our exchange with a circle logo of snowy trees, mountains and two gold stars above them to represent our two colleges.  Some of our guests spoke English very well, many telling us they improved their skills by watching English daytime dramas, but others, like my guest, spoke very broken English and would translate directly from French.  We would laugh together when she said things like, "I have to go at the bathroom for to makes the peepee."

And then it was our turn to go to them.  We flew out of Castlegar sometime in March and landed six hours later in Quebec City, where we met our exchange partners with whom we stayed in a motel for two nights.   We got reaquainted with each other, exploring the beautiful old city and eating in a restaurant with an interior sign which translated as, "Get ready to unbuckle your belt".  Someone told me that the sign used to say, "If you can eat it all, it's free," but they started having to give away too many meals and wisely changed their tactic.  Coming from a health-foodie background, I was not enamoured with the heavy, fat-laden Quebecois cuisine so I mainly ordered 'le club sandwiche, s'il vous plait', which came heaped on a platter surrounded by pomme frites (french fries).  I rarely ate a third of it, and I'm no bird. 

Quebec city is very much like any old European city, I would imagine.  The buildings in Place Cartier are over four hundred years old, made of stone, and are beautifully heavy with history.  Although the sidewalks were slushy and the ice on the St. Lawrence river just beginning to break up, we had good weather which contined when we travelled by bus along the frost-heaved road to Sept Iles.  Although a bit carsick I was still able to take in the scenery along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, which was dotted with characteristic Quebecois stone farmhouses with steep pitched rooves for the snow. 

I do not remember much about Sept Iles itself.  Translated, it means Seven Islands.  I remember taking a helicopter trip over the islands but the day was cloudy and wet and the scenery snowy and monochromatic that time of year.  I remember going to various houses and socializing in a combination of broken French and broken English, and I remember that my host family lived southwest from Sept Iles along the Gulf of St. Lawrence, in a small town called Port Cartier, so we did a lot of driving.  Unlike in the larger cities and the Anglophone neighbourhoods in Montreal, the people of the towns up the St. Lawrence were completely French speaking.  My host family spoke to me only in French and I struggled to understand their patois.  We went to a large Catholic church for Mass on Sunday and I was happy to see they had all the French lyrics up on the wall via an overhead projector, so at least I could sing along.  I think everyone knows that it is one thing to have conversations in academic French with teachers and fellow students, and quite another to speak the language with dyed-in-the-wool locals in a small region of France or Quebec.  My host family was wonderfully kind and generous to me.  My host student, Nadine was a gentle soul with an equally gentle mother, a twinkly-eyed father, and a shy younger brother.  When we all gathered at the breakfast table I watched in barely guarded astonishment as Nadine and her brother devoured sugary cereals and buried their toast in caramel spread.  "Would you have any peanut butter?" I asked.

The sweetness continued when we spent a glorious sunny day at one family's elegant summer cabin on the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  There we partook in the famous Cabin au Sucre, or Sugar Shack, which is the traditional celebration of the sugaring off of the maple trees.  We pulled hot maple taffy and put it down in the snow to cool.  We ate ham glazed in maple syrup (delicious), and Les Oureilles de Christ (ears of Christ) - eggs fried in lard and smothered in, yes, more maple syrup (not my favourite dish-and not only due to its off-putting name).  I put my hand in the icy Atlantic gulf water there and I remember we bought fresh prawns from a fish shop on the wharf.  The prawns were boiled whole with their roe attached, and my new friends showed me how to pull off their shells and eat them by the bagfull while we walked along the wharf.

At that time in Quebec a language bill was a major bone of contention and the idea of separation from Canada always hung in the air; I know there was a small degree of tension between our groups because of it. As the two weeks wore on, the topic would come up more often from our French hosts and we would struggle to understand.  Fortunately, our French teacher was a wonderful, understanding woman, and she did her best to help us figure out what the issue was all about.  To remain a distinct society within Canada, our French-Canadian friends wanted to do everything in their power to keep their language the dominant one in their province, and I had no problem with that.  Quebec did feel like a bit of a different world to me, but I was open to its differences and only wished my French were better so I could take more in of its culture.  On our final evening together in Quebec our adult leaders held a debriefing session with us.  We were each to give our impressions of our experiences in our own language, which would be translated for the benefit of the whole group.  Some of us took the chance to air our political concerns regarding the language bill, while some of us made tearful Academy Award-type acceptance speeches.  Instead of being a time when we should have focussed on the good that had come of the exchange, it quickly descended into dangerous territory.  I was one of the last to speak.  I don't remember much of what I said, but I think I expressed my frustration at what I thought was the wrong approach for our last evening together as a group.  I remember voicing my concern that instead of taking away all the fun times we had learning how much we were alike, and the progress we had made in bilingualism, we were in danger of parting from the experience with a bad taste in our mouths, and how unfortunate that would be.

The next morning we all went to the airport and said our goodbyes.  The tension had lifted somewhat and the good will had mainly returned.  One of the French-Canadian students came up to me and in an expressive manner, made a long speech to me.  I did not know her very well, but she had hosted a party at her parents' opulent home. She was very pretty with sleek dark hair and a genuine thoroughbred elegance about her.  As she spoke to me in rapid French, I worked very hard to try and get a grasp on what she was telling me.  She kept stopping to ask if I understood, and I would say yes, (but only every third word).  When she was finished her speech she gave me a firm hug and kissed me on both cheeks.  I understood enough to know she appreciated how hard I tried to speak French at all times when in Sept Iles, that she appreciated what I had said the evening before in the debriefing session, and that she was expressing warm feelings toward me.  Although I was dying to know all she was telling me, I just didn't have the heart to tell her I could barely understand a third of what she was saying.  I think I felt shame in that.

When I got married a few years later, my husband's French was so much more limited than mine that he used to tell people I was practically bilingual.  I wish I were.  It is a beautiful language, and I could get by in a restaurant or reading signs, but of course, that is not enough.  I am saddened by how little French my children are taught in school and that the initiative to gain bilingualism in Canada is mainly up to the individual.  Many federal jobs require proficiency in both languages (to my mind the reason for the funding of French Immersion programs by the government), the cereal box on the kitchen table has ingredients listed in both languages (and often in Spanish as well), and the bank machine asks if you prefer your service in French or English, but that is about as far as it goes out here in the west. Even if my French were perfect, I wouldn't have much of a chance to use it.

In Switzerland, much of the population can speak French, Italian and German, but then Switzerland is a much smaller country than vast and expansive Canada.  The distance from here to Quebec could encompass much of Western Europe, I believe.  Canada is also a multicultural country and in British Columbia it may seem more useful to learn Cantonese rather than French.  It is also true that many immigrants have a hard enough time learning one of the languages of their adopted countries, let alone two, and First Nations people are relearning their own languages.

However, if my experience in Quebec taught me anything, it is that we have to work harder and smarter for a sense of national unity.  In short, we have to learn to speak each others language, whether literally or figuratively.

The above photo was found here.

March 19, 2011

Happy St. Joseph's Day (a reposting)

Yes, yes, I know, we've just finished with the green beer and the shamrocks, the corned beef and cabbage, the dancing of jigs and the transatlantic greetings, but today is an important holiday, too. At least it could be if we all made more of a fuss about it.

Today is the feast of St. Joseph, husband of Mary, mother of Jesus and, according to my research, patron saint of all of the following: the Universal Church, Canada, travellers, fathers, workers, families, schools and a happy death. That just about covers it - at least in my life.

To be sure, St. Patrick's day is important for all of us who claim even an ounce of Irish blood in our veins. According to my family tree, my great-grandmother on my mother's father's side was Irish. In my younger days that was enough of a heritage to send me and my friends to an Irish pub to dance and drink the rainy night away on the 17th of March. By the looks of it, the Irish celebrate this national holiday with great gusto; after all, St. Patrick brought them something new to fight about and then drove out all the snakes. Kidding aside, a country like Ireland, whose Christian heritage has played such an obvious role in its riveting history, does well to acknowledge and celebrate St. Patrick. It makes good sense.

Following that line of logic, wouldn't Canada celebrate St. Joseph's day the same way as the Irish celebrate their patron saint's? Not so much. Canada is funny that way. It's full of saint-honouring Christians from a multitude of ethnic backgrounds, who have played a major role in the education of its citizens, the leadership of the nation, the building of it's infrastructure, and, let's face it, the building of the population itself, so shouldn't we have parades, dress up in brown linen robes and fake beards and decorate our homes and businesses in a hammer and saw motif (St. Joseph was a carpenter, in case you didn't know)? We wouldn't even have to dye our beer. It's available in a multitude of shades of brown already.

Perhaps the times are a-changin', though. I see in the local news that St. Ann's Parish in Abbotsford is having a 'Paddy and Joe Festival' this Saturday with dinner by Dutchman Caterer's (3 entree selection), a live band "The Groggin Noggins", cash bar, and Irish Dancing Entertainment. This new festival is apparently to celebrate the 'solemnity of St. Joseph, Patron Saint of Canada', but everything about it screams St. Patrick's Day. How typically Canadian. We lure you in with the promise of a good party, and while you're here we introduce, very tentatively, a new concept. We don't want to ruffle your feathers or come on like a tonne of bricks, which brings me to my final point: St. Joseph was, by all accounts, a quiet and gentle man, who taught his son how to work with wood, and was supportive to his wife - the ideal family man. He isn't the kind of saint with a resume of flashy miracles performed and wars averted by his influence. To my imagination he is like the good things about Canada itself: understated, humble, subtle in its international influence, but at the same time, always there working away for the good of the world, peacefully smiling over its challenges, enduring 'stormy weather' with patience, and wisely guiding and educating the next generation of 'bright lights'.

So, perhaps we Canadians are more correct than we know in how we celebrate our patron saint's day. St. Joseph probably wouldn't want much of a fuss made over him anyway. Still, while I will not be attending St. Ann's 'Paddy and Joe Festival', I will raise my glass of amber Kilkenny ale and wish you, from my heart, a very happy St. Joseph's Day.

The painting is Georges de la Tour's "St. Joseph the Carpenter" available as a print from

This post was originally from this time last year.  I hope you enjoyed it.

March 17, 2011

I'm Wearing Green Today!

shamrock boutonierre from

I had another idea for this post, but I will put that aside for St. Patrick's day, put on the green and celebrate my deep Irish heritage.  By deep, I mean I have to dig a little deeply to find my bit of Irish heritage.  Nevertheless, I have always felt an affinity for the Gaelic territory of my Irish ancestor, my mother's grandmother on her father's side. 

My great-grandmother Mary was born some time around 1881 (my sister reminded us all in the family in an email this morning) in the city of Letterkenny, which is in County Donegal in the Ulster Province of Northern Ireland. 

Letterkenny in 1910

Mary married my great-grandfather, a Scotsman, and they emigrated to Canada.  This great grandmother is the only Irish ancestor on both sides of my parents' families that I know of, and even her ancestors were originally from Scotland.  Even so, she was Irish and it is due to this strand of lineage that I feel justified in celebrating this day, as I always have.  (Incidentally, the unique shape of mine and my mother's nose came from that Irish/Scotch branch of the family, as I found out when my mom showed me photos of my great-grandparents.)

Usually I like to celebrate St. Patrick's day by going to a dance.  A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent the night dancing our socks off to the Gaelic/Latin/Funk band The Paperboys, and since we didn't make it to hear the fiddler April Verch last Friday night, I have decided that The Paperboys dance was my official St. Patty's day dance, albeit early.  Today, I am wearing green and very much looking forward to the landscape around me doing the same.  St. Patrick's day is always a wonderful sign of the fullness of the spring to come. I present the following ten reasons to love the Irish by way of tribute to this day which has been embraced by people in many corners, even by the orthodontic office where my daughter had her braces re-tooled this morning.  It was decorated with shiny foil shamrocks all over the place.

One Canadian's Top Ten Reasons to Love the Irish  (in no particular order)

1)   The Commitments soundtrack (I think the D.J. played 'Mustang Sally' every night at the night club where I danced with my friends in the 1980's)

2)  Guinness stout.  Mmmmmmm.....although I didn't appreciate it until about ten years ago

3)  U2  (see here for an account of the time I finally saw the band live after being a fan since 1984)

4)  The Humble Shamrock.  St. Patrick used the shamrock to illustrate the concept of the three-in-one Holy Trinity when bringing Christianity to the Irish.  I believe the shamrock is also a symbol of the luck o' the Irish, at least here in Canada.

5)  Irish Film.  There is something magical and mystical about the Irish films I have had the pleasure to see.  Some of my favourites include Once, Three Boys (and girl) from County Clare and Into the West, and as I stated above The Commitments.  A rich sense of humour, and often plenty of swearing, is also evident in these films.

6)  Fr. Ted.  We love this show about three very unlikely priests from Craggy Island. 

7)  Irish music.  When I'm in the mood I love to listen to some good, traditional fiddle and harp-centric music.  The Chieftains are a favourite, as well as the grittier, more modern sounds of The Pogues and The Waterboys.

8)  Irish history.  Often sad and full of conflict...but fascinating!

9)  The Irish accent.  It is lilting and musical and probably one of the most fun accents to attempt to imitate.

10)  St. Patrick's Day!

Erin go bragh! 

I cannot seem to find a source for the photo above of Letterkenny in 1910.  I just found it on Google images.  I apologize to whomever it is credited.

March 10, 2011

A Poem for Today

The Church is his Jumbo Pass

He’s willing to lie down in front of bulldozers for it and get arrested.

He’ll lead the chant and write the letters, signing his name in sweat and tears.

“If you were charged with being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

Says the poster in the parish hall.

He can answer yes, sometimes an almost unbearable amount.

Maybe that’s why he and Harry Potter are mates,

Because Harry knows life isn’t about cute little fairies or watching out for toadstools that might give you a bit of a tummy ache,

Life is about fighting the scariest bloody dragon of your worst bloody nightmares.

But anger and protest are so loud

And eclipse in our senses the steady, quietly burning love that is so much greater.

Like the logging company with its profits and its bottom line, we don’t want to hear the opposition or acknowledge the far-seeing truth of the statements on the placards he holds.

‘Think about tomorrow – today is almost over.’

Though five percent ogre he is ninety five percent your greatest ally and friend on earth

Never will you find a person more on your side, or a more positive champion of your efforts and talents, No one more supportive to bring you up when the world pulls you down.

If he hadn’t had the guts to kick our asses every once in a while

Our world would look very differently.

The forest needs its thousand year old trees standing tall

And its grizzly bears among them.

Jumbo Pass has been a battleground between environmentalists and ski resort developers in the Kootenay Region of BC for many years now.

From the Royal BC Museum in Victoria

March 3, 2011

Running on Empty

Last week was one of those weeks.  I had a million things on the go and was starting to get bogged down in the details.  Despite the fact that I listened intently to the news from Libya at least twice a day, news of a whole country in crisis, a life and death situation for its people, I couldn't seem to get past my own tribulations.  I'm like that sometimes, caving inward, obsessing over things I can't control, like the weather report or the ever present possibility of an outbreak of headlice at my daughter's school, all the while knowing I'm being ridiculous, praying for deliverance and trying desperately to look at the bigger picture to gain some perspective for crying out loud. Finally, after a few days of struggling to be heard my inner voice of reason spoke up.  She said firmly, "Sit down, pick up an absorbing book and start reading.  Do it now!"  I obeyed, and as my hamster wheel of a mind slowed down and focussed on something outside myself, I gradually started to regain my sanity and an overall sense of calm.

I am a mother of four, a volunteer, an event coordinator and a writer.  My mind is usually going a mile a minute and I'm putting out energy left, right, and center all the time.  Some weeks, like last week, are particularly packed and by the end of it I've really got nothing left.  The tank is running on empty, and beginning to consume itself.  If I don't put some fuel in the tank my mind is left to its own destructive tendencies and things can go from bad to breakdown.  But what exactly is my fuel?  I think everyone has their own fuel.  For some people it's a good bottle of wine shared with a spouse over dinner or a weekend getaway.  Those are both fine options but can get a bit expensive.  My fuel is more readily available and budget friendly.

Yesterday I took much of the day 'off'.  By that I mean I took one day to just relax and not expect too much productivity from myself. I spent the whole morning watching a DVD I'd borrowed from the library and had not yet made time to watch.  I had tried to renew it online but was prevented by the fact there was a hold on it.  The DVD, a three hour and twenty minute BBC production of George Eliot's beautiful story Daniel Deronda literally did take my whole morning, and I enjoyed every minute of being able to watch it without interruption (apart from the breaks I took to make a cup of tea and visit the bathroom). No one even phoned which was real luxury.  After lunch I went for a walk downtown to pick up some buns to go with the leftover chicken soup I had made the day before - so I didn't even have to make supper.  After supper my husband and I did the few dishes there were and then settled down again in front of the television as the weather was too nasty for an evening walk.  The Washington State PBS channel had a great show on about The Troubadour - a Los Angeles club where basically all the big names in the 1970's singer-songwriter genre got their start.  James Taylor, Carole King, Jackson Browne, Eagles, Crosby Stills Nash and Young and even a twenty-three year old Elton John were all in that L.A. music scene in the early '70's.  They were also all part of the soundtrack of my childhood so I watched the program with special interest while my mind kept drifting back to my parents' pine panelled living room with its record player and hundreds of records. (We also noted that Jackson Browne had exactly the same hair style back then as our eldest son has now.) After the program I had my customary evening soak in the tub, read my absorbing murder mystery novel and went to bed.

This morning I woke up ready to take on the world once again.  I had no idea what I was going to blog about this week but I sat down at the computer and immediately thought of Jackson Browne's song, "Running on Empty".  I typed that in to my title box and started writing this post.  I wrote a bit, then went to have my weekly coffee out with friends.  After coffee I put up posters around town for the annual Writer's Workshop and 'Open Mike' evening I organize with my friend The Librarian and walked home for lunch.  The warm sun was breaking through the clouds.  The birds were rioting in the trees and the hope of spring coming at last was visible on the faces of almost everyone I met.  I noticed that the snow from the last two snowfalls was melting fast and had revealed, to my great relief, that my snowdrops, which had begun to bloom weeks ago, had survived. 

My tank runneth over.

Here's Jackson Browne performing Running on Empty in 1978.  David Lindley, whom we saw perform last summer at our local music festival plays the great slide guitar solo near the end.  Enjoy!