Friday, July 29, 2011

Norma Kenney House

Norma Kenny House at Mission Heritage Park
Who knew that the Norma Kenney House is now the hot new restaurant in Mission? I moved away from Mission a decade ago, so I was definitely amongst the ignorant.

The new chef and management scores top marks on affordability, style, taste, and aesthetic presentation. I went there for lunch during the Mission Folk Fest last weekend, and was expecting fare that would deal with my hunger in a basic kind of way, but nothing fancy. What I found was choices that included:

Chilled Plates
Lemon Marinated Oliver Medley $5.50
Marinated Herring, Sour Cream, Red Onion $5.50
Smoked Salmon, Pickled Red Onion, Capers $8.50
Cheese Sampler, Biscuits, Crostini $8.50
Meat Sampler, Crostini, Grainy Mustard $8.50
Marinated Artichoke Hearts, Lemon, Garlic, Cumin $6.50
Hummus Dip, Crostini $4,50

Hot Plates
Roasted Garlic Chives, Herb Cream Cheese, Crostini $4.50
Sautéed Prawns, Garlic, Thai Chilli Paste $8.50
Roasted Chorizo Pork Sausage, Celery Seed Slaw. Lemon $7.50
Greek Meatballs, Lemon $7.50
Cheese Bread, Celery See Slaw $5.50
Pan Seared Scallops, Pickled Red Onions, Truffle Oil $8.50

That was only the half of it. This was just one of the menu pages posted outside the door. Inside, there were four more pages in the menu that also included main dishes for evening meals, all priced utterly reasonably, as well as a desert menu - all homemade fare.

For lunch, my friend had the New York Cheesecake with Blackberry Compote. It tempted me too, trust me, but I was stern and declined to order one as well. After all, I was already stuffed with the luncheon special of the day: Creamy garlic carrot soup, with a scone, scrambled egg with lots of fresh veg and a garnish of pickled red onions. That, and a damned fine cup of java.

Norma Kenny, whose legacy to Mission was not only of vision but also of the roll-up-your-sleeves kind of hard work, was the key person responsible for saving Mission’s Heritage Park for future generations. She would have been thrilled had she lived to see how it has all played out. Unfortunately, Norma died in 1990. 

Her husband, the renowned band leader Mart Kenny, died about five years ago at age 95. I miss them  still.

As the Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo said in a speech in 2003,

I would like us to remember Mission’s beautiful Norma Locke Kenny, beloved wife of Mart Kenny and ... the wonders of citizen engagement, of co operation, collaboration and finding common ground between people, across the artificial barriers that have been built between us is the key to advancing the human agenda and to sustaining our world.  By your presence here this afternoon you are saying “I am proud of our community” and “I will be a steward of its sustainability” now and tomorrow!

You don’t have to live in Mission to enjoy this. If you are driving up the Fraser Valley on your way to somewhere else, it is well worth stopping in. An amble around the flower gardens in the adjacent Mission Heritage Park after lunch would probably be in order. Or, if you are driving westwards heading for Vancouver later in the day, supper looks pretty darned good too. And they are licensed, if you would like a glass of wine to complement the meal. Also, the park is handicapped accessible, and the view from the deck of snow caped Mount Baker, well, it’s like they say in those credit card ads. Priceless

PS The restaurant is actually known as The Blackberry Kitchen and their opening times and menu details are on their web site - which I found after I wrote this post. Duh!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Jackson “Connexion”

For years now, I have been collecting and collating information on the line of Jacksons whose earliest known roots are at Lisnabo(e), Co. Meath. They then moved on to Ballybay, a town in Co. Monaghan sometime in the mid 1700s. Some then moved on to America in the early 1800s. Some of these were United Irishmen who had been charged with treason and banished to America. In spite of their passion for liberty, some of them subsequently owned slaves when they got to America, and some  sired children with them.

There is a childish taunt that is often untrue: Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me. The United Irishmen Jacksons were equally skilled in producing both lethal words and lethal weapons. Ironically, foundries were used for both.

On the weapons side, Henry Jackson, one of the Lisnaboe/Ballybay Jacksons, had a foundry in Dublin where he manufactured the pikes which were used against the government forces. When it came to the printed word, Isaac Jackson – one of the Quaker Jacksons - was one of the most prolific. He established the first Dublin foundry for making lead type in 1747. Sometimes the interests of these two foundry owners, the one who made the weapons and the one who printed the words, intersected.

In March 1791, the Henry Jackson who manufactured pike heads served on a 13 man committee to publish an affordable edition of Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man. I suspect that this edition would have been published by one of Isaac Jackson’s children – either Robert who succeeded his father in the business, or else Rachel Maria Jackson who took over when her brother died. Tom Paine’s writing is a good fit with the other kinds of publications that these Jacksons printed.

In 1796, a cart-load of weapons bound for Ballybay and allegedly made at Henry’s foundry was one of several batches of weapons that were seized that year. They would have been but a small bit of what Henry’s foundry produced, and it didn’t seem to slow him down. A year later, an eye witness reported:

Have I not seen in Henry Jackson’s Foundry in Church Street heaps of Balls ready for use in Cannon (???) to the exact caliber forwarded for the expected French Ordinance — yes Sir yes — and exultingly pointed out to me by Mr. Jackson himself.
SOURCE: Bill Farrell’s site. 

The reference to the expected French Ordinance was to the planned, albeit ill executed, landing of French soldiers to assist in the overthrow of the government.

On March 12th, 1798, Henry Jackson was finally arrested, and then incarcerated at Dublin’s Kilmainham jail. When he was discharged on September 28, 1799, he made his way almost immediately to America. He settled first in Philadelphia, and later in Baltimore, where he lived with his daughter Eleanor, widow of the United Irishman, Oliver Bond, who had died in Kilmainham Prison in 1798.

These days, you can tour the prison, but the Jackson’s headquarters at 87 Pill Street no longer exists. Strange as it may seem, given the history, the old Pill St. is now covered over by the expanded Courts of Justice.

Of course, a new continent inevitably leads to new stories. When Henry Jackson had to flee, he took with him a young nephew, James Jackson (1782-1840). The boy’s mother had died when he was two years old. This James Jackson grew up to be a successful business man, and he was a close friend of the future President Andrew Jackson until they had a falling out. He started in sales in Nashville, and in 1818 moved to Lauderdale Co., where he died in Florence, Alabama.

Testimonials at the time of death are often excessively effusive when powerful men are involved, but he seemingly had earned it. He was praised as a generous donor to local charities, a man whose counsel was valued, who put others first, and was known to be both frank and candid. Not mentioned was the fact that, like other large land-owning farmers in the region, he also owned slaves – 52 of them at the time of his death.

This James had seven children, and in an instance of the kinds of surprising turns that history can take, his second son sired a child with a slave known only as Easter. Her great grandson – and this is the surprise - was none other than Alex Haley, author of Roots. If I have correctly deciphered the notes prepared by Nancy Carlson, a researcher for Alex Haley, as well as the text in Haley’s book Queen – his book that followed Roots - then the outline of this part of this JACKSON family tree looks like this:

 1  James Jackson b: 22 Apr 1822 in Forks of Cypress, near Florence Alabama, USA d: 1879 in Florence  +Easter  
........ 2  Queen Jackson b: Bet. 1857 - 1858
............ +Alexander Haley b: 1846 in Alabama
.................. 3  Simon Alexander Haley b: 1890 in Savannah, Hardin Co, Tennessee
...................... +Bertha Palmer b: 1895 in Henning, Lauderdale CO., Tennessee
............................. 4  Alex Haley b: 11 Aug 1921, Ithica New York d: 10 Feb 1992, Seattle, Washington

These two books, Queen and Roots, were key catalysts for change when it came to introducing the experiences of American slaves into the mainstream understanding of American history. Nothing can take that away from them. Even so, it seems that Alex Haley cannot be credited with being the sole author of either of them. Queen was essentially written by David Stevens, who would later say that his writing was guided mainly by the long conversations he had with Haley about his grandmother, and a little bit by a 700 page outline that Haley left. 

The story about the writing of Roots is murkier and even a little tawdry. It was established in a court case that significant portions had been plagiarized from Harold Courlander’s novel, The African. The judge in the case gave Haley good advice: Settle with Courlander. He did this to the tune of $650,000 - in 1978 dollars – with an agreement that Coulander keep quiet, which he did until he died in 1996.

In the end, Haley died with his reputation largely intact, and his Pulitzer Prize still in his possession. In some respects, I figure that this is fair enough. These books, and the television miniseries and movie that were based on them, dramatically changed how the average American understood the experiences and impacts of slavery. In spite of the plagiarism.

As for the Jacksons from Ireland, I suspect that there are a significant number of other African-Americans who will find – if they test their DNA – that they too are related to such Jacksons. Who knows? That part is yet to be written. My musician brothers would really like me to find evidence that has us related to Jackson Browne - since both names are in our heritage. They will have to wait.

For now, a few links will take you to the material that I have assembled on these Jacksons:

An outline tree of the Jacksons of Lisnaboe 
An annotated report on sources connected to the outline tree. 
A rootsweb tree that will be continually updated (now more than 10,0000 related names included). 

NOTE: I am more than grateful for all the work done by so many. In particular, I have leaned on the work of Adam Edwards and Bill and Mary Farrell in writing this piece. They, in turn, stand on the shoulders of countless others.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Sheldrake and other Elements – 3rd in a small series

Recently I set myself the task of documenting two kinds of Jackson ancestral trees – those trees which included ancestors who had settled in Ireland in the 1700s or earlier, and those that had sheldrakes in their family crest.

It was a bit of a crazy thing to attempt, quite a scatter-gun approach to research - but I was at my wits end trying to nail down what Sir Thomas Jackson (1841-1915) and his mother Eliza (1815-1903) knew about their family history. There are repeated hints that they did in fact know which line of Irish Jacksons they belonged to, but unfortunately, they took this knowledge to the grave. I have come across letters, starting in the early 1900s, where various family members were scratching their heads and already trying to make sense of the who, what, when, where, and why.  As one of my great-aunts put it, it has been a 'flee bedder' in its time!!

Of course, the additional stumbling block was when the Irish records building burnt down in 1922.

Assembling these family trees reminded of me of how generals used to use toy soldiers on a large table when mapping out a campaign. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees unless you can set the pieces up in a viewable pattern. That’s what this is for. Along the way, I learned a thing or three.

  • It helps to have either a wide screen monitor, or two screens available. This way, you can have two trees side by each and scroll through them independently while looking for areas of overlap.
  • It is worth looking at all the versions of books such as Burke’s A Genealogical & Heraldic History of Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland. There are dozens of versions, and they each have a different audience in mind. Actually, they have one audience: who will buy this book. It is just that in each succeeding generation, the list of potential customers changes. This means that a line of Jacksons that had survivors in the 1850s, but not in the 1890s, would be dropped at the point that there were no more living customers in that line. Directories, such as Burkes, are in the business of making money, and fair enough. Vanity is a powerful force that they knew how to harness.
  • The secondary material in these books is not always reliable. Much of it is, but even though Burke’s hired researchers, they also used family sources, and the reliability of such sources varies. Where possible, check it out by finding a primary source.
  • The names of counties didn’t stay put (let alone townlands!). In the late 1500s, Laois became known as Queens Co. and Offaly, was changed to King’s Co. It helps to have an indecent number of maps.
  • To further confound the neophyte researcher, many of the old English settlers in Ireland remained Catholic, while the newer arrivals tended to be Protestant. The Jacksons – like many - were likely to be on either side of the faith divide at that time.

I have posted these new trees, and now I am on the watch for birds - sheldrakes to be precise.  I am still trying to find a fit between the sheldrakes and the stories. I can’t say that I am much further ahead. I found links between some of the trees, and have noted them. I have found potentials for future links, but no slam dunks. Once again, it is time to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. In the meantime, here are the links to the trees:

Jacksons of Ahanesk As I was working on this, I thought that perhaps the JACKSONs of Ahanesk might be a possibility, although the light on them is pretty dim when we get this far back. Thomas JACKSON was connected to Waterford and died 1672. His father also had land in Waterford, but we have no record of a date. It is likely that the family was there in the early 1600s, if not before. The thing is that their crest has no birds of any ilk.

Jacksons of Ballyboy. This tree needs a lot more work in finding dates for the early entries, but it is a start.  

Jacksons of Doncaster The Doncaster Jacksons have the shoveller on their crest, but they seemed to be from Co. York. Then again, another family story  says: JACKSON line of our family came from Co. York and was in Cromwell’s army. He was granted land for his services at an estate called Mount Leinster.  As far as the Doncaster line goes, their earliest (known-to-me) arrival is Thomas Jackson (1740-1805) of Tullydowey, Co. Tyrone.

Jacksons of Duddington The Duddingtons came from Northampton – a match for one of our family stories - and settled in Limerick at least by the mid-1700s, but their crest is not quite a match. They had three birds, but they were eagles, although they did also have the ermine that was also part of TJ’s crest.  

Jacksons of Glanbeg This tree is interesting when looked at in connection with the Jacksons of Ahanesk. In each tree, there is a Mary WALLIS, daughter of Thomas WALLIS who marries a Jackson. In the Glanbeg tree, it is a Thomas JACKSON and in the Ahanesk tree, it is a George JACKSON. Whether this is a coincidence, or an error in the secondary sources that I used, or whether there is a relationship here still to be discovered, I do not as yet know. 

Not that these are all the Jackson trees that I have done and posted to my web site. For example, in the past I have done trees of some of the JACKSONs who are connected with Co. Cork, Co. Down, Co. Derry, and Co. Mayo. If you want the full forest effect, check out The Silver Bowl Family Trees. 

Also, if the elements of the family crest and the quest for the elusive shoveller interests you, it is at Jackson Family Crest

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Arms and the Red Hand of Ulster – 2nd in a small series

Sometimes I end up with so much egg on my face, you could scrap it off and feed the starving masses, or at least satisfy an undiscriminating family pet. It is part of what comes from being a solo researcher. At the best of times, when I wander off the well trodden path, I find unexpected treasures; other times there is the aforementioned egg. 
You don’t have to dip your toes very deeply into research about Sir Thomas Jackson to know that he was fiercely proud of his Irish heritage and felt a profound connection to his homeland in South Armagh. Nor, do you have to go very far in learning about Ireland to hear about the Red Hand of Ulster.

It is just that putting the two of these things together when decoding the symbolism included in Jackson’s Armorial Bearing, well, just lets say that is one of those egg on face times. I have to confess that I even waded in and made mention of the significance of this connection when I gave a talk in Monaghan a few years ago. Thankfully, the audience was kind.

Armorial Bearings of Sir Thomas Jackson - granted 1902

When I first saw the original parchment version of the arms granted to Sir Thomas, my eye immediately leapt to the red hand in the upper left hand corner of the shield. From my place of ignorance, I was convinced that I knew why it had been put there: another instance of Sir Thomas’ expression of his Irish pride – perhaps even an instance of his family’s connections with political subversion. I subsequently learned two important things about the Red Hand of Ulster in Armorial bearings.

Firstly, it seems that since 1922 all new and reconfigured Baronets in Great Britain use the Red Hand of the O'Neills to indicate they are recognized as Baronets in North Ireland as well as in other parts of Great Britain. The use of the red hand in a family crest is not indicative of an Ulster heritage, or being on any particular side of the sectarian struggles, only that the peerage is recognized in the North of Ireland.

One of the best written versions of the Red Hand of Ulster and its place in Irish mythology is told by Derek Lundy in The Bloody Red Hand: A Journey Through Truth, Myth and Terror inNorthern Ireland. I bought my copy in Dublin in 2006, where the same book was titled Men that God Made Mad. Both titles are a perfect fit. I subsequently met Derek at a wedding on Saltspring and discovered that not only is he a fine writer, but he is also a fine musician and a motorcycle aficionado – an obsession he shares with my husband.

Lundy tells two versions of the story. In the first, an Irishman named O’Neill has teamed with Viking raiders, is seeking plunder and is in one of several longboats fast approaching the shores of Ireland. The deal is that the first man to touch land with hand or foot wins all: land, booty, women, slaves – you name it. In the second version, the two rivals with similar goals in mind, are representatives of two Scottish clans: The MacDonnells and the O’Neills. In both versions, the key protagonist is about to lose to unnamed others who are a few paddle strokes ahead. In each version, this is so unacceptable that the protagonist severs his hand with one swift sword blow and throws it ashore onto the sand before anyone else can make the leap. Each version has the freshly amputated victor claim the bloody hand for their family crest – the O’Neill’s family crest in the first version and the MacDonnells of Antrim in the second.

Of course, Ireland being the land of storytellers, there are several other versions of this tale. I have also found that it is quite common that the teller will be absolutely convinced that he is in possession of the only correct version. 

Just to complicate things even further, the red hand was also a symbol for the son of an ancient Gaelic Sun God as well as being a symbol in church iconography of the open right hand associated with the early Christian God. That alone should tell us a lot about both the tenacity and shape-shifting qualities of such myths.

The second thing that I learned about the Red Hand of Ulster and its use in Armorial Bearings is that it is important to be clear about when to use the left hand and when to use the right hand. If you are designing an Ulster flag, you need to be sure that the red hand is a right hand; if you are crafting Armorial Bearings for baronets or the Irish Society, it is a left hand. It’s a way of keeping you on your toes – even when you are sober.

The Red Hand of Ulster's a paradox quite,
To Baronets 'tis said to belong;
If they use the left hand, they're sure to be right,
And to use the right hand would be wrong.
For the Province, a different custom applies,
And just the reverse is the rule;
If you use the right hand you'll be right, safe and wise,
If you use the left hand you're a fool.

Going back to the myth, whether it was a left handed man who cut off his right hand, or a right-handed man, I don’t know. The myth is also silent on how he managed to drop the knife, pick his severed hand up off the gunwales, and then toss it ever so deftly and definitively. Perhaps whoever it was, he was ambidextrous, not unlike the way that such stories often are in Ireland.

For more on Sir Thomas JACKSON see: Wiki

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Crests and Coats of Arms – 1st in a small series

Family crests need to be taken with a grain of salt. They stand on a foundation not of absolute truth, but on a foundation of a kind of truth that I call an as if truth. They were often used in preliterate times as banners to identify various sides in the midst of battle, and then became part of the economic system where the eldest son inherited the farm. They were often used as a kind of shorthand for tracking where important people belonged, and hence determined inheritance.

The as if part of all this is the implicit assumption that the eldest son is actually the biological heir. The truth is, of course, frequently other than that. The percentage of under-the-cover paternity events is small, some say about 1%, but the multiplier effect of this over generations is considerable. DNA tests are beginning to shed new light on this.

Even in families such as mine, who have old photos of an ancestral g-g-g-grandmother decked out in a lace Presbyterian cap and posing with her bible in her lap, well, such things happened even in families such as this. The effect on the biological validity of family trees is substantial enough that the only meaningful use of family crests, aside from pride, is to indicate the family line that people believe they belong to.

Being human, having a workable story is good enough for most of us. After all, we tend to rely on lots of as if to make sense of the world. For example, our legal system functions on the basis that it makes sense to assign individual guilt or innocence, even though we know full well that culture, economics, gender, genetics and a whole slew of other factors make this somewhat meaningless. Not that I would advocate throwing out our entire legal system simply because it stands on the clay feet of as if. It is like democracy - we haven’t come up with anything better yet.

A second important fact to understand about family crests is the way that they get created and how decisions are made about what elements to include. It is a bit like sausage making. It might feel more ennobling to simply enjoy the end product without seeing how it was created. At least, in many cases this is true.

I was at a literary event in Sechelt a few months ago, chatting with novelist, Theresa Kitchkan and told her about my curiosity about a sheldrake which was included in Sir Thomas Jackson’s crest. Was it because he was related to other Jackson families who had sheldrakes in their family crests? One of Theresa’s sons works with the Canadian Heraldic Authority, and few days later, he set me straight on a few things. At the same time, he quite reasonably diminished my hopes for using family crests to solve the question of which line of JACKSONs mine might reasonably think that they belong to.

My guess is that you are correct about the sheldrake being a reference to earlier Jackson arms, but it does not necessarily imply a direct connection to any particular Jackson line.  It is a very common practice in heraldry to use particular symbols or colours to indicate that individuals share a surname even if they are not closely related to each other.

Obviously, the little that I know about heraldic traditions and conventions would fit into a thimble. That being said, when I served on Mission City Council back in the late 1980s, I did have a brief inside look at one example of how arms are designed – at least in Canada. 

District of Mission, BC, Canada - Coat of Arms
It was a fairly new thing for municipalities to have municipal arms, and Canada’s Chief Herald, Robert Watt, paid us a visit with his rough draft of what Mission’s first Coat of Arms might look like. He had paid close attention to our history and therefore the elements that would be suitable for us, and had come with a draft proposal. As I listened, it became clear to me that there was something of a cookie cutter element in heraldry, but also that Watt was not a cookie cutter kind of guy. He wanted to know: What did we think? What did we want?

Since Mission as a town had begun as a Catholic mission run by the Oblates, the cross that Watt had placed in the center of the shield made total sense, but I asked it if could be a less generic kind of cross. He asked if I had something particular in mind. Sure, I said, take a look at the steel crosses in the cemetery up at the Abbey.  Well, he did, and as a result you can see the specific kind of cross used by the Oblates etched in gold and superimposed on the background of a larger green cross. This was a design that was new to heraldry. We broke new ground.

Watt was also kind enough to consider the addition of strawberries. For me, this was a nod to the pre-WWII farmers, many of whom were of Japanese extraction. Unfortunately, their farms were all seized after the bombing of Pearl Harbour, and they were shipped off to internment camps, and never properly compensated for their losses. Their history is part of what I remember when I look at the strawberry flowers included at the base of the shield.

The story of Mission encompasses many cultures, and many narratives, and so it is more than appropriate that crowning the District of Mission arms is a Sto:lo canoe with a sprig of salmon berries. A few years after these arms were completed, an excavation was begun beside a rock in a place known as a sacred transformer site in Sto:lo mythology. It didn’t take long before the archaeologists unearthed an ancient longhouse with elements around it dating back to 9,000 BC.  Until then, all that we knew of the settlements was through stories. Now, there was also the scientific evidence to back them up

All of which is why I am still holding out hope. I still do not know which line of JACKSONs our family connects to, but I do have the stories, and I also have this darned sheldrake like a hook in my mind. It is clear that I’ll have to keep on digging.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chaster Creek Farm

My brother Struan in his market garden July 4th, 2011.
Photo credits: Sara Brown

The Global and Mail recently had an article: Local FoodMovement Goes National.   This significant new development is piggybacking on the growth in popularity in eating locally and in season. How often is it that something not only feels right, but tastes right?

July 4th - and looking so robust.

 My brother Struan and his wife Sara have been an active part of the local food movement since they moved up to the Coast in the mid 70s. Their first major food garden was at their home on North Road. The soil there was so rock hard that you could damned near hear it laughing at them when they ran a rototiller over the surface of their first planned garden plot. In the end, it was a jack hammer that did the trick. That and years of manure from their chickens, cows, horses, goats and whatever other animals they also raised on their land.

About three years ago, they sold the old place and bought sixteen flat acres on Payne Road. The soil here is perfect, rich and deep. In no time at all, Struan and Sara were up to their old tricks – providing produce for their family, extended family, friends, and anyone else that happened within hailing distance. They canned, froze, pickled and dried anything that could be saved this way. Clearly there was enough produce coming out of their new farm for them to set up a booth to sell the extra.  This was so successful, that they expanded and are now known as Chaster Creek Farm 

Genuflecting amongst all the goodness.

Brandon, who now works with Struan and Sara and also lives on the farm, grows lettuce which you can buy at the Gibson’s Marketplace IGA. The two local IGAs have been great this way. They also sell certified organic greens from Tracy & Martin Kiewitz of Henry Reed Produce. It is wonderful food. I have been buying Henry Reed produce since I moved up to the Coast a little over a decade ago, and plan to continue buying from both them and Chaster Creek – after all, I am absolute rubbish when it comes to being a gardener. Dunno why. Temperament, maybe.  

Garlic Scapes - picked July 5th, 2011

A couple of days ago, Struan cut a bag full of garlic scapes for me. Now here is a mystery. We have this whole eat local approach soaring in popularity amongst restaurants these days. Items such as spotted prawns are the new hot thing to order in restaurants in the spring, and rightly so. So where are the garlic scapes on Lower Mainland restaurant menus? Where are the recipes in the newspapers? I haven't seen them.

Struan's approach is to cut the tough part of the tops off them and sauté them for use in  dishes such as Chinese vegetables. Done this way, they have a mild garlic flavour with a texture not unlike like green beans. I make a pesto with them, with walnuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. It works well in a pasta sauce, with sometimes a little cream, or else it can also be mixed into yoghurt or sour cream to make a dip, or even simply spread on toast and topped with an egg. How can you go wrong?

To go with our pasta tonight, we will also enjoy a bag of Chaster Creek Antioxidant Health Mix Greens. I bought them at the IGA because it was convenient. I like this mix because it has lots of red lettuce in it. red lettuce not only tastes good, but it also has 100% more antioxidant compounds than other lettuce varieties. You can see a graph about the antioxidant levels of lettuce – I am not making this up. Pas de surprise, the old standby - iceberg lettuce - is at the bottom of the antioxidant heap. 

Mmm, Mmm - life is good. Then after supper, it is off to the Gibsons Legion for music – played by Struan, Bruce and Martin. It seems to me that it is not only food, but also music that can and should be “eaten” locally. 

Brown Brother’s Blues

Nobody does Rolling Stones covers like my brothers. They play them full of edge, and piss and vinegar, and whatever else needs to be added to the mix to make them soar. They also play covers of tons of other musician’s tunes, as well as a fist-full of songs they have written themselves. I don’t know what kind of mix the three of them will be playing tonight at the Gibsons Legion, but I can guarantee you, the place will be packed, people will be up on their feet dancing, and the bartender will have to hop-to in order to keep up with it all.

Martin - circa 1977

Thirty five years have zipped past us since the two youngest Brown brothers first started playing together in a band in Gibsons. The girls went wild, and the boys were all envious. For a while, they toured through the Western provinces, but after several stints of this, real life intervened. Once parenthood entered the picture - well, real jobs had to begin. Not that this means that the boys have ever quit dishing out the music.

On Struan's 50th birthday in 2004, the Brown Brothers played at the old Pen Hotel up on Highway 101 - days before it actually burned down. They also played at the venerable Wakefield Inn before it was leveled. Upscale housing has since been built on the land where the Wakefield had been the watering hole of legend for decades. Much has changed.

When you check out the state of the ceiling, it is not hard to understand why the Pen Hotel burned down. In fact, it is hard to understand why it hadn't happened sooner.
The last time I heard my brothers play was a few months ago - April 30th:

Bruce has the perfect rock n roll voice, and also lays down the foundation for the tunes with his utterly reliable base guitar.
Martin not only plays lead guitar, but also makes them. Band members who have bought his guitars in the past include musicians with Blue Rodeo, 54-40, Sarah McLachlan, Bare Naked Ladies .... The list goes on.
Struan who adds improv riffs on the harp,  is also one hell of a gardener - I will write a piece about his garden - maybe right after I finish this piece.
Friend Pete Kerbis is one of the best drummers I have ever had the pleasure of listening to - famous or not.

 Of course, as the older sister, by about a decade, I remember the the three yet-to-be musicians way back when:
Bruce, Martin & Struan in the late 1950s.

 Too much fun.