Rhymes, Rants & Accolades from North Central BC

LETTER FROM CATHY HARDER  June 7, 2018

To all Legion members, both past and present;

Also to all members of the communities of Fraser Lake, Fort Fraser, Endako, Stellat’en and Nautleh;

I have felt the need to write this letter for some time now and I feel it is time to follow through on it.  On May 25th I attended the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner at the Stellat’en Hall.  In my opinion, the event was a huge success in celebrating volunteers in our three communities by letting them know we appreciate their effort and in doing so encourages one another to continue investing into our communities.  However, the reality of the fact is much more sobering. We, like many organizations within the community, need more people stepping out and helping. I have talked to so many organizations and they all say the same thing, “We are in desperate need for more volunteers”.

As President of the Fraser Lake branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, I loudly echo this.  Not-for-Profit organizations thrive and are nourished through volunteers, for without them we will starve.   We are all gifted differently and we all have different personalities and we must learn to work together. People may disappoint, insult and hurt us; however they also encourage, support, value and edify us as well.  Nothing gives you a sense of accomplishment as much as being involved in a cause knowing all you get in return is the satisfaction of a job well done, a smile, a hug or even better, a new friend.  These are the benefits of volunteering.

A community isn’t just a bunch of houses in the same area – a community is defined by its people. The Fraser Lake Legion has been a part of our community for over 40 years and a part of Canada for the past 92 years.  It is not just a pub nor even just a café. These are our sources of revenue so that we might provide the our main service to those in the community such as Veterans, emergency services, senior meals, senior sports and various community events.  The Legion would like it to be made known that it does not exist to compete or rivial with another business or venture. It exists to support and aid in our community – young and old. We have changed the rules to include to family as much as possible.  Children are free to come and go as long as the kitchen is open. If the pub is open they need to have an adult with them.  You don’t need to be a member to come in and we welcome any suggestions. We exist to support our veterans and their families, as well as our community.

Simply stated, the Fraser Lake Legion is at a critical stage. In order to continue operating it needs the engagement of its community.  The Legion is looking for a volunteer coordinator as well as people to fill in for various positions such as bartending, cooking, kitchen helpers, meal delivery, etc. The executive has been working nonstop going above and beyond and would like to give a big shout out to Dale Peck who has so often donated his equipment and time for Karaoke and dances.  The Legion appreciates all his help and all the others who pitch in and work so hard, however, the Legion need commitments with follow through. We need more people willing to engage.

If you would consider committing one day a month to volunteering it would make a world of difference.  If not at the Legion, at another serviced based organization such as Autumn Services, the Men’s Shed, the Crisis Center, the Arts Council, the Fire Department or any number of volunteer run organizations within Fraser Lake or the surrounding communities of Stellat’en and Naudleh Whut’en. Volunteers are desperately needed everywhere as communities that play together, stay together.

We have felt the loss of various businesses over the past few years, as well as gained a few more.  We recognize those few who were willing to step up to the plate and fill in the need. Unfortunately, the Legion and like many other service based organizations in our community, can not be replaced.  Where else would Veterans go for support?   Where else would another seek the services provided by those others listed above? There is no place else, for they are irreplaceable.

Buy local, volunteer local and together we will grow a great community.

 

I went to the wildfire information meeting at Stelat’en Hall last night. Of course we were all hoping for good news about the two big fires affecting our area. But the only good news at all was that the monstrous Island Lake fire which has caused the evacuation order of Nithi Valley and Dahlgren Rd residents, was presently headed in a south-easternly direction. That meant the one extremity of the 7000 hectare fire, which is only 13 kms from the Village of Fraser Lake, is not going our way. At least not until the wind changes.

The Recreation Complex site is where nearly 200 fire fighters are battling the blazes raging in the district during their shifts and and then returning to sleep in tiny multi-colored dome tents. The soccer field looks as if gigantic mushrooms are sprouting up in an expanse of dry grass.

The hard surface of the arena has been designated to be used for evacuees from the fires continuing to  burn in the Bulkley Nechako Regional District. These include the huge Shovel Lake fire which has kept Savory Road and Coreyville residents in a state of constant “Evacuation Alert” for several weeks. The fire is now 5700 hectares in size, with rapid fire growth, although presently in a northerly direction.  The people residing in the Fraser Lake/Fort Fraser & Endako area are very much threatened by two of the largest and most active fires in the province!

At last night’s meeting there was discussion about why there are only 20 fire fighters deployed to fight the Island Lake Fire. Unexperienced workers cannot be hired despite recent training sessions. We were told that “Industry” has been very helpful in assisting and that there are 16 helicopters in constant use.

The Regional District has issued a State of Emergency but so far, despite the extreme danger to population, cattle, wildlife etc. the Province has not issued a similar State of Emergency declaration. There has been little or no mention of our dilemma on any of the media outlets, whether local or provincial. (Are we just “chopped liver” so to speak?)

Another problem is the smoke and fly ash in the air. Many of us have to stay indoors in this extremely unhealthy conditions. And, according to weather forecasters the hot, dry weather will continue on for perhaps 2 more weeks, with no rain predicted. Scarey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

T.

 

 

 

 

Well, I hear the Legion is in need of a new cook once again and my old camp cooking muscles are twitching. Not twitching much because they would find me dead on the kitchen floor after the first hour. (Actually I think I could last 2 or even 3 hours, if I had a nap every 15 minutes)

I would like to put in my nickle’s worth of advice about how to feed a senior. I’m referring to the Senior Meals Program that are prepared and delivered from the Fraseer Lake Legion kitchen each and every week day. Only 9 dollars for entree, soup or salad, a homemade bun (Erica makes the best buns!) and dessert. The meals are delivered to your door between 3:30 and 4pm (We need more volunteer drivers by the way.)

Each of our cooks have been excellent and have offered a wonderful variety of meals. (I’m sorry to hear Corey is leaving. I really liked the way he prepared sweet and sour pork and salisbury steak)

One problem for me is that I am a senior and as such, wear dentures (I have chewing challenges) I also have taste challenges and do not handle overly sweet, overly salted, or overly spicy foods very well.  Give me roasts, spuds and lots of gravy. For dessert: any kind of pudding- no cake or cookies. I also like Jello with a touch of whipped cream on top!

I have to admit that on a day-to-day basis I prefer plain old meals and will head off to Duggies or Tonys or elsewhere, for more exotic excursions into culinery excellence.

The Legion puts out a menu each month. If you are a senior, or disabled, you just call the Legion 250-699-6268 the day before the desired meal is being served.  And if you’d like to recieve the full meal deal for the entire month, you just place your order in for that.

A quick and easy chicken recipe was invented by my husband. He used Graham Wafer crumbs to make homemade Shake and Bake chicken. He added garlic and onion powder (not salt) and pepper. Just moisten pieces of chicken and shake in bag with crumbs.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, turn over, and cook for another 15 minutes or so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THREE YEARS HAVE PASSED

Three years have passed
since his deathday.
I feel nothing,
as if the horrific
event never
happened.

Some other family
standing around.
Him on oxygen,
not saying much.

The baby looking
worried.
The grand-niece
in her gum-boots.

Me, chatting up
a storm.
Other patients
in worse shape
than him.

Some still alive.
Some not.

Tuesday’s his birthday.
I’m not missing
his deathday.
But I will miss
his birthday.
once again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY TRIP TO JERUSALEM

Day Trip To Jerusalem [SCRIPT TO GO WITH SLIDE SHOW]

Mar. 9 We had lined up a tour of Jerusalem via a travel company . Had to leave Haifa on the 5:30 am. train in order to catch the tour bus leaving from a hotel in Tel Aviv. Our guide that day was a perky young woman who spoke English well with only a slight accent. She explained that Tel Aviv is a relatively new city having only been in existence since 1909. There had been a settlement nearby- in what remains of some stone-faced construction on the city’s outskirts in an area known as Jaffa. As we neared Jerusalem there were a series of housing developments in the distance on the hillsides (everything is up and down in this country) The motif of the newer buildings is similar to older style- limestone facades with rounded, domed edges in white and cream colours that are still the favoured architecture in most parts of Israel.(Except for Tel Aviv with its western style hotels and office buildings.) Our guide said the land on these suburbs of Jerusalem city had originally been part of Lebanon (preceding 1948? can’t recall what wars were with whom?) There were several sites along the road where relics of military vehicles and equipment had been preserved in honour of soldiers who’d died in wars with Arab countries, such as the 6- day war with Egypt (in 1967?)

 Cue mosque spirals)Slide labeled beginning our tour of old Jerusalem: broken down building.

We began our tour in the old city of Jerusalem, strolling through myriad alleyways and ancient buildings with stone floorings as old as during Christ’s time – so many remnants of the past but also restorations of ancient structures of historical significance to Jews, Muslims and Christians – many within arm`s length of each other. The so-called ‘wailing wall’ (Western Wall) our guide explained, dated back many years. It had been destroyed – much of it- in the various military skirmishes over the centuries. There are now two stark looking, uneven sections of the wall reserved for people to pray- one section strictly for the Muslims and the other section for those who practice the Jewish Faith– (We weren’t shown the Muslim section) Bee walked over to the wall to join those who were in prayer- there were bits of paper stuck between cracks all over the wall – written prayers placed by individuals, Rabbis, etc. I waited nearby in a plastic chair –at the time the weather was cold and windy- possibly contributing to my somewhat depressed state of mind? as I contemplated upon the schism between two religions – both worshipping the same God.

cue caption “marketplace” Slide labelled “following our guide”

Our guide led us through walled alleyways that combined Muslim marketplaces featuring stalls similar to what we’d seen in Akko with the ever-persistent – and very loud- vendors attempting to sell their wares (prices sometimes went down to almost zero but very few buyers.) Their stalls were intermingled with intriguing doorways leading to churches, including one called the Via Dollerosa, maintained by Fransiscan monks (A couple of monks had made it through the milling crowds earlier lugging a huge wooden cross.) Later on, one popped by where we visited and distributed thick smoky fumes from a container.

 cue red tarp hanging- stone shack) Slide “we went through this very dark church on the way to the main part of the church”

 The most significant part of the tour for me was making our way through the huge, magnificent Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It was extremely dark and low ceilinged where we entered – quite frightening for me as I could not get my eyeballs adjusted between the darkened tunnel and the candlelit areas- there were stone steps here and there with no railings to cling to. Bee had to guide me along as we crept through the narrow passageway. The church was enormous with many rooms. Our guide told us four or five Christian denominations continue to worship there to this day. Originally constructed during the 12th century, it had been almost totally destroyed. It has since been rebuilt and restored with colourful mosaics all over the walls and ceilings- final completion of mosaics in the 1920s and 1930s. One large panel in the ceiling we photographed was actually part of the original 12th century artwork. The rooms all featured many colourful chandeliers and tapestries, with numerous displays portraying the life and death of Jesus.

cue final view of city. Slide  labelled “commemorative stones on way to Hollocaust Museum”

The final leg of our tour was of the Holocaust Museum in New Jerusalem. It was a huge building divided off into oddly and narrowing shaped sections with disturbing content throughout. I could not handle too much of it -although it was a very well set up museum with photos, films and artifacts of that horrific period of time in human history. I did find the Nazi media propaganda of the times interesting -although deplorable. One newspaper cartoon depicted a large boot with a Nazi insignia on the sole– there seemed to be a joyous attitude about how much fun it would be to step on a tiny insect-sized Jewish person. Really creeped me out!

 

 

 

Slide: pic of Taylor and me

March 11- We are in Edmonton where Bee met her first grandchild Taylor, who is also my great-grandson. Very cute little guy!

I had a weirdly funny experience when we were about to leave from the airport in Tel Aviv. I should mention first that some years earlier I’d had surgery for breast cancer.

….Security for people leaving Israel seemed more lax than when entering- the guards did not carry assault rifles – just pistols.  The processing began with putting bags through a scanner and my big suitcase did not pass the test. It needed to be searched by hand at a separate counter where two agents regarded me with stern expressions on their faces. “Do you have some soil or maybe sand in your bag,” one asked. “Or perhaps some seeds?” “Only rose petals” I replied. (Marcia had given us rose petals as memorabilia) “Nothing else organic.”

“Someone may have put something like that in your suitcase?”he suggested. “No,” I answered firmly. I was beginning to panic. They stared at me stone-faced as I sifted through jumbles of clothing in search of the rose petals that I’d stashed in a plastic bobby pin container. “No need, we found the item,” my interrogator said. Despite his stern face he must have been a trifle embarrassed when he pointed out the felonious article – the weighted false boob I’d packed as a spare to fill the empty left side of my bra. It had been stuffed with barley or similar kind of grain. Bee and I managed to keep from giggling. For me that turned out to be the funniest and most comfortable part of the journey home. We gave a thumbs up once again for El Airlines for their delicious meals, cushions, blankets, entertainment.

 

1999 Sense and Nonsense

Today I commemorated the birth of Britain’s longest reigning monarch by kneeling, scraping and bowing in the drizzling rain, as I attempted to uproot weeds in what will one day be the garden at our newly acquired acreage.  While I reposed upon the dampening soil, my derriere shielded by a garbage-bag-encased cushion, the spirit of the long dead queen began to envelope my imagination.

I had dressed fashionably that morning in my best gumboots, royal blue sweat pants and almost-matching raincoat with a visor to deflect the raindrops away from my glasses.  It was of supreme importance, I thought smugly, that my eyesight not be impaired if I was to accurately identify the enemy before brandishing my weapon and annihilating its numbers.  Even so I accidentally trowelled a few cowering pansies and—shame unto me– slashed at a fat onion from last year believing in a fit of  majestic rage that it was just another quack-grass.The poor thing had survived the cruel winter only to be crushed by my friendly fire!  Oh well, a queen can get away with such things – especially when it is her birthday….

It was on the Tuesday following the Victoria Day weekend that spring finally arrived in Fraser Lake. An exodus of chilled, soggy tourists towing campers, trailers and boats had cluttered the highway the previous evening reminding me of troops of disgruntled soldiers returning home from a battle they did not win.  We who live here were the only ones left to enjoy the ensuing sunshine.  And it was wonderful!

When it comes to appreciating weather, people in the  Northern Interior are sometimes pathetic.  Last winter was fairly mild but instead of enjoying it I, heard a few lamentations that we should be having 40 below temperatures in order to get rid of the  pine bark beetles. Some suggested that 60 below would be even better and for a period of three months. If that happened we’d be rid of more than just the beetles. I for one would have headed south until my thermometer warmed up.

And instead of feeling lucky when snow levels did not reach the tops of fence-posts, some citizens in our community were seen shaking their heads and worrying that come summer the lakes could be devoid of most of their water. Last week, after we finally had two sunny days in a row, I overheard those same people predict that forest fires would soon be breaking out.

I was not amused.

It is the middle of August and my berry picking muscles are twitching. Last month I was laid up and missed out on the gathering of what I hear was a super-abundant crop of larger-than-usual wild strawberries. Luckily for me the huckleberries which should be well past their prime, are just beginning to ripen. This year Mother Nature has been slightly off-season with her blessings. About three weeks behind–perhaps because of the late spring?

Right now I am yearning to be out there with other fervently addicted huckleberry hunters: climbing steep, unstable rocky inclines and trudging through swamps, criss-crossed with spiky spruce blow-downs and littered with devils club, to reach the clear cuts where it has been rumoured the biggest and best berries abound.

If only it would stop raining!

During yesterday’s wet weather I extricated a batch of last year’s wild blueberries from where I had stashed them in the deep freeze. They were still firmly attached to their vines amidst a wealth of healthy-looking green leaves. When I had picked them, I entertained the notion that the freezing process might make it easier to separate the itzy bits of fruit from their abundant foliage. Not so. My husband compared my tedious efforts to that of picking fly specks out of pepper. But it was raining and I had nothing better to do.

After that I made some blue-huck-toon jam, which turned out to be delicious. The one berry in the trilogy that was this year’s variety was a few cups of saskatoons from the only productive bush in the neighborhood.

We had slavered in anticipation upon noticing all the saskatoon blossoms earlier. The theory has now been voiced that our chilly spring made it difficult for pollinating bugs to survive and carry out their duties.

I would like to share my lazy woman’s recipe for saskatoon or huckleberry pie. After years of mopping my oven because of overflowing juices (unless I beefed the filling up with too much thickener which rendered it inedible) I now cook the berry mixture on top of the stove. The bottom crust has to be baked first before being filled. (Otherwise the pie may still muck up your oven during the longer baking process.) Following that, you need only to secure a top crust in place and brown. (If you are really lazy as I am, you use the frozen crusts from the store.)

SASKATOON PIE FILLER (Makes 3 or 4 pies and is freezable. The recipe is from my friend Mary in Fort Fraser.)

4 cups saskatoons
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons corn starch
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 dessertspoon lemon juice
Cook until thick. (For huckleberries omit the water, almond extract and lemon juice. You will probably need more corn starch and sugar.)

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