Rhymes, Rants & Accolades from North Central BC


October 1976 Sense and Nonsense

Weddings are fun. They are also a big hassle for almost everyone involved. I know one mother who sewed every stitch for the girls in her daughter’s wedding party. She was still sewing madly a few hours before the wedding was supposed to begin. When I commented that she was working herself into a nervous breakdown, she answered,

“No, I just haven’t got the time”. “I may have one tomorrow though”, she added hopefully.

Weddings are also a time of last minute calamities. No wedding is complete without one. At one wedding the little boy who was supposed to be the ring bearer, refused to go down the aisle. Later the little fellow admitted he thought he had to be a ring “bear” and he didn’t like bears at all.

I have always had trouble arriving at a wedding on time. Even if the church happens to be across the street, something always comes up to delay our departure. I have often considered renting a pew for a week or so before the big day.

Recently we attended a wedding in Calgary. We left home with the idea of shopping and visiting in Edmonton with plenty of time left over to leisurely drive the rest of the way on the day of the wedding. It didn’t happen that way at all. The first thing we discovered was that a tourist town which does a thriving gas pump business in the summer months is very reluctant to sell that same gas this time of year. It can be disconcerting when your gas gauge reads “empty” to drive past dozens of unlighted service stations. It can be even more disconcerting to find yourself twenty miles down the highway still looking for that mythical gas station. Contrary to rumours, Alberta does have hills steep enough to coast down, but we were unable to find any. We finally found a motel with a set of gas pumps which sold that precious fuel but only during daylight hours. We managed to catch some unexpected sleep.

Only half a day behind schedule we arrived in Edmonton, where we shopped, visited, ate and slept almost simultaneously. The next day, clad in blue jeans and hair-rollers with only a street address for directions we set off for Calgary. We got as far as the car. It was set solidly on only three good tires. A flat tire in B.C. in the country is a relatively simple thing. In Alberta in the city it is a different matter, especially if you have to buy a new one. Every tire store must sell a different size. The people who live there know exactly where to go and that is usually miles away across town.

Two hours later, we sped south breaking even the excessive speed limits allowed out there. A quick phone call from a service station assured us of a pilot car on the outskirts of Calgary. We also changed in the rest rooms which were only slightly larger than the phone booth. Needless to say we and our kindly guide arrived five seconds before confetti throwing time.

When the confetti had settled everyone left for the reception hall which was located on the other side of town. We were left with no guide to follow in an unfamiliar town. The town became less unfamiliar as time went by. We discovered where all the one-way streets were located. They all led in the opposite direction from where we wanted to go.

By a process of elimination, we found a route which finally led us to the reception hall. I have stayed awake nights dreaming up original but useful wedding gifts. They have always been duplicated and this time was no exception. No matter what gizmo we gift-wrap, at least one other person has had the same idea, sometimes even to the gift wrapping paper.

For the next wedding we are going to give money, which may not be original but is always useful. I have often wondered how to gift wrap money. This morning, the idea came to me – buy a childs’ piggy bank and fill it up with quarters. The piggy bank can later be given to the baby, which often happens as a direct result of the wedding.

Weddings are fun. However, I have yet to attend one where everything happens on schedule and all the guests arrive on time. I am sure it is the unexpected that helps make them so memorable!



April 5, 1979  Sense and Nonsense

To visit Vancouver and then return to the snow covered Central Interior during the month of March, should be the ultimate in masochistic experiences. Warm sunshine, green grass, daffodils, birds, buds and even bumblebees – Why does anyone have to live anywhere else! This time we travelled by air, a new experience for me. After leaving Prince George, we barely had time to finish our breakfasts before the mountainous terrain below flattened out and we were skimming over the Fraser Valley. I mentally thumbed my nose at every Greyhound bus, train and automobile I have ever known!

Visiting my mother is always a healthful experience for me. She usually lives in a building where cigarette smoking is not permitted. Last time I visited her, she lived in a basement suite and I had smoking privileges, but only in the back yard. This was fine until evening approached- the time when I usually indulge in my number one bad habit. Three locked doors, one with a sturdy chain attached, separated me from the great outdoors. Alter unlocking three doors, one has the feeling that there must be muggers, rapists and murderers lurking behind every shrub in the semi-darkness.

Needless to say, I never got past the second puff before scurrying back indoors!

My mother now lives in an apartment suite next door to a church. Each evening I strolled past the church to the bus stop bench to enjoy my cigarette. Nobody would mug me in front of the First Baptist church, would they??

I never received an answer to a riddle I composed while riding on the B.C. Hydro buses. How many busers can squeeze into a bus after the bus is full?

I had to admire the composure of the drivers and in particularly, one who regularly drove the Fraser St. bus. We heard a loud noise as the bus was making a sharp turn and then it rolled to a stop. Apparently it had “slipped its wire”. This happened “9 times out of 10″ according to one seasoned passenger. Our driver, calmly chewing his gum, stepped out and climbed up to re-hook his bus to the transit wire. Next day as we were driving through rush hour traffic, we noticed a bus stalled in a particularly heavy traffic area. The driver was our gum-chewing friend and he was re-hooking the same bus to an overhead wire. The serene expression on his face was unbelievable in the midst of a sea of frantic, horn-honking commuter cars!

At Stanley Park we spent a lot of time visiting the fish in the Aquarium. We watched the whales go through their routines at feeding time, and as usual I ran out of film before Skana did her really big trick. Someday I will paste together all the pictures I have taken of the various parts of her huge anatomy

Back home we enthusiastically regaled my husband with tales of birds, flowers and green grass. For proof our four-year-old handed her dad an envelope filled with grass plucked from “Grandma’s lawn in Vancouver”.

“We have green grass here, too,” he smiled. “And the robins and bluebirds are back.”

Robins! Bluebirds! Green grass! Sure enough, between patches of crumbly snow were some strands of green grass … last year’s crop to be sure, but green grass just the same. Who needs Vancouver, anyway!


November 21, 1974 Sense and Nonsense

Hockey was once described to me as “Canada’s national disease”. The person who made this statement did so in a very low voice and was gazing furtively in every direction. He realized that hockey fans are everywhere, and one can’t be too careful when making discriminating remarks against the game. To dislike hockey is to dislike the whole Canadian way of life. It is akin to casting a slur on motherhood, apple pie, and Wayne and Shuster.

One can drape themselves from head to foot in the Canadian flag, make friends with beavers and refer to our leader and his wife as “Pierre and Maggie” but that is not enough. To be a real Canadian one must know and love at least something about hockey. The first thing I learned when my son joined minor hockey was that it is expensive. All those weird looking things that they lace, zip and belt onto various parts of the body are lined with purest gold. They are essential though, to keep the kids out of the hospital.

The only part of the body that is not protected is the eyes. I am hoping that they will soon come out with something to protect them as well. The kids may not be able to see where they are going on the ice, but that is better than losing an eye. They could take their eye-guards off for the most important part of the game anyway: buying goodies at the concession booth.

Kids do enjoy playing hockey. They seem to have fun even when they lose a game. One kid was even smiling after his team lost 11-1. He philosophized that they would have won if it wasn’t for the opposing teams’ goalie….seems that his team had more shots on goal!

His parents weren’t smiling though. The coffee wasn’t very strong that morning but I noticed them chewing vigorously as they drank. Come to think of it, it could have been the plastic cups it came in, that they were eating. It was a before-breakfast game and we were all very hungry. I wish they would make those cups out of more palatable material. Mine tasted terrible.

I have watched quite a few minor hockey games and most of the Canada-Russia series on T.V. but I am still baffled at some of the terminology. Icing the puck is a no-no I have learned. It seems to me that there is no way they can keep that puck from getting iced up when the surface that they play on is ice. The trick, I suppose, is to keep batting the thing around so the friction keeps it warm and ice-free.

A face-off sounds disfiguring but the players involved seem more interested in the puck than in maiming their opponents. I was told that an offside is where the player beats the puck across one of the lines which are painted on the ice. He must be a pretty good man to do that. I understand that a puck travels very fast and has been clocked at up to 121 miles per hour. Of course if the puck has a lot of ice on it, it probably travels much slower.

I wonder why the only player to wear a mask is the goalie. Could it be that he has been maimed to the point of disfigurement in past games and is now so ugly he is no longer a crowd pleaser? I would like to suggest that I am sure he is not that bad and those masks look like something out of a Boris Karloff horror movie.

Someone suggested that the goalie is not always a guy but sometimes is a girl in disguise. Hockey is supposed to be a male-only game. Women’s Lib could easily install a few members behind the nets as a start to dissolving this male chauvinistic stronghold.

If Bernie Parent turned out to be a woman, a lot of people would be surprised!

circa 1976  Sense and Nonsense

Of all the job positions that I wouldn’t like to have, Bus Driver has to be near the top of the list. I have noticed cross-country bus drivers seem to be large or mean or sometimes both. Mean may be an occupational hazard but large is definitely an asset when it comes to dealing with some passengers.

From a passenger’s viewpoint of the back of his head and shoulders the driver may sometimes appear to be an easygoing little fellow. The sitting down position can be deceptive. On one bus trip two navy types sat a few seats behind me. I guessed that they were sailors partly from their loud, colourful reminiscences and partly because it was over-proof rum they were drinking.

Our driver ignored their sometimes abusive remarks. The only indication that he heard them at all was a slight reddening between cap and collar-line from time to time.

At our next scheduled stop, our driver slowly rose to his feet. He must have weighed 250 pounds! Like the Incredible Hulk he advanced down the aisle. I waited for the crash followed by at least one dull thud… instead I heard a polite voice suggesting that perhaps the “gentlemen” would prefer to patronize one of the town’s drinking establishments rather than continue their journey on the bus.

He departed with what was left of their bottle and the ensuing silence lasted for miles.

It is not always the rough, rowdy characters that aggravate the drivers. One southbound bus driver appeared to be extremely confused after leaving Quesnel, BC. In broken English he stubbornly insisted that “somebody” should have gotten off in that town. He interrogated those of us with children as to whether or not our “kid had a ticket.”

Finally, he stopped the bus and announced that he wanted to have a look at each and every ticket. The nice well-dressed young fellow up front was one of the first to present his. Our driver took one look and berated him with, “I don’t speak English that good but I sure as h….. can read it! This ticket says Quesnel – not Vancouver!”

His revenge was complete when after leaving the young man at a roadside service station, we met the northbound bus pulling in. “if that fellow wants a ride back to Quesnel. don’t give him one,” he growled at the other driver.

Riding a bus can be aggravating but between buses it can become downright boring. I recently spent two unscheduled hours wedged against the wall under the “No Loitering” sign in the Prince George depot. The place was a seething mass of humanity, suitcases, cardboard boxes and knapsacks awaiting mostly overdue buses to travel in all four directions.

Prince George is like a giant magnet. It attracts all manner of transportation but is often reluctant to let go. I have noticed Via Rail spends a lot of time in its tracks in that city as well.

No wonder the city is the fastest growing center in BC. No doubt some residents are still waiting for their bus or train to leave town!

To really appreciate buses one should ride the train from time to time.

On our last Via Rail experience from Edmonton I was unable to get reservations for sleeping accommodations and was told I was “lucky” to secure day coach seats. As it turned out, “lucky” was not an accurate description. I discovered that Day Coach is definitely a no-frills proposition. They wouldn’t even allow us to line up for the diner until 11o’clock that night.

The only luck we had was that we were travelling west rather than east. We passed the eastbound as it sad immobilized on a remote siding. Apparently, it had hit a bear and was six hours behind schedule. The children waved at us through the coach windows but their parents didn’t even smile. They eyed us wistfully as our train sped past in the direction from whence they had come.

Unlike bus drivers, trainmen seem to be a happy lot. I overheard some of them speculating about the damage the bear had done. One laughingly expressed amazement because as he said, there is no problem when you hit a moose. “There is just a thump and you are away!”

Perhaps, if they butchered out all the moose they hit, Via Rail could sell the meat in the dining cars and lessen their financial difficulties.

Meanwhile, I think I prefer to ride the buses. If the drivers are large and mean, at least I can understand why.


When my son was diagnosed with schizophrenia after smoking marijuana heavily for some months, I began researching at our local library as to whether or not there could possibly be a link between the devastating disease and what is now being referred to as a “recreational” drug. I found an old copy of the book Sensual Drugs in the library which had been written by Dr Hardin Jones, a professor at Berkley University in California.
What lodged itself deeply into my psyche after reading Dr Jones’ book was a quote taken from research into the use of “hemp” way back in 1894 by the government of India. The research had concluded that a significantly higher proportion of those in asylums for the insane were users of hemp,  in proportion to those who were not.
KIRKUS REVIEW [of the book which has been reprinted in recent years]

Hardin Jones is Professor of Medical Physics and Physiology at UC, Berkeley, where for several years he has given a popular course in drug abuse. This volume, edited by his wife, is a distillation of the course with additional material based on interviews with 1,900 addicts, travel to drug-rich parts of the world, and a survey of rehabilitation centers. By the author’s definition, “”sensual”” drugs are “”those that the body has no need for, but that give the user a strong sense of pleasure.”” His position is that the more the individual is educated about the physiological effects of drugs, the less likely he or she will risk taking them. Recognizing the strong association between drugs and sexual pleasure, he points out that many drugs first titillate erotic sensations but eventually numb feelings. Indeed the drug abuser ultimately becomes sensually deprived–in all senses. Heroin, cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, LSD, and amphetamines are different in their effects, of course, and Hardin reviews current medical lore for each separately. In general, continued use of a sensual drug upsets hormone or enzyme balances at best and destroys tissue at worst. Hardin’s approach to withdrawal and rehabilitation is equally no-nonsense: the addict must be motivated. One way is to convince him that full sexual potency and pleasures as well as other bodily delights can be restored. Hardin advocates programs aimed at rendering the addict drug-free and operating at a better level on all fronts. HIS last chapter is a strong admonition against liberalizing marijuana use; along with other authorities, he feels that the drug’s effects are insidious and long-lasting. A sane and sensible book, full of information and free of preaching.


June 1979  Sense and Nonsense

Proud parents perusing through baby books searching for appropriate names for their offspring are often unaware of two things. No matter what label is attached to the child, he will probably hate it; and half the people he is destined to meet in later life will probably forget it!

A girl I knew, once answered very reluctantly to the Christian name of “Clara”. At a tender age she had learned to live with “Clara-belle, the cow” a nickname most Claras are undoubtedly familiar with.

Clara told me the story of an incident which had completely dispelled all vestiges of her childhood hang-up. It was at a social gathering where she had met a friendly, personable, young man. They exchanged amenities and he expressed a desire to see her again.

“I have a terrible memory.” he confessed. “I’m afraid I’ll forget your name before the evening is over.”

“Just think of the cow,” she answered helpfully. She wryly explained the connection between the comic book character and her given name. Later, at the close of the evening, she noticed her new friend waving at her amidst the departing crowd. “Good night!” he called. “See you again soon, Elsie!” [Elsie, the Borden Cow]

I am anxiously awaiting the birth of my newest grandchild. It was supposed to be a May baby but it is now too late for that. Statistics indicate that newborn babies are bigger than they used to be. Possibly that is because they are older than they used to be. The nine-month pregnancy may someday be a thing of the past!

I am curious as to whether or not my grandchild will pass the “Draino Test.”  The Draino “turned blue” which is supposed to indicate the baby will be a boy. My daughter’s doctor does not believe in Draino (except for unclogging kitchen sinks) His favourite line is, “Another Draino Baby – wrong again!”

The Draino test reminds me of the old “wedding ring on a thread” method of determining the sex of an unborn child. My pregnant daughter had failed that test miserably – she was supposed to be a boy!

Babies are usually surprises in one way or another. If you don’t like surprises it is apparently now scientifically possible to “Clone” yourself. The process involves using an egg from a woman’s ovary, but all the traits of the mother are removed. The egg is fertilized and contains only genes from the father.

There are rumours afloat that a baby boy has been born in the United States who is a clone of his millionaire father. The little guy, if he exists, cannot help but be a “chip off the old block”. One scientific theory suggests that the fertilization process can be skipped completely. All that is necessary is a single cell from the father, who can be either living or dead (but not too dead!)

I can almost see it all now:

“You have seen it on T.V.
How to build a family!
With matching eyes
And matching hair.
They even come
With underwear
The latest offer from K-Tel
Each kit complete
Just add a cell.
Guaranteed for 90 days.
Never ceases to amaze!
Only fourteen, ninety-four,
Available, now at this store!”

I don’t care whether or not my grandchild passes the “Draino Test.” He or she will be an original child. I believe babies are supposed to be surprise!

circa 1975 Sense and Nonsense

Tomorrow is the first day of hunting season. The rifles have been sighted in, the regulations deciphered and there is anticipation in the heart of the hunter.

There is anticipation in the heart of the hunter’s wife, too, as she cleans the home freezer of last year’s crop of Swiss chard and the freezer-burned bear ribs that someone told her make “wonderful sweet and sours”.

There are two schools of thought regarding bear meat. Some say, “Throw away the meat and keep the fat.” Others consider the fat superfluous and insist that the meat is a delicacy.

Someday (when I’m hungry enough) I may venture an unbiased opinion on the subject.

I read a very funny article in an Outdoor Life magazine entitled “Let’s go Deer Hunting, Honey.” It was written by a wife whose husband had magnanimously decided to invite her along on one of his hunting expeditions. It was her contention that some men (her husband included) “consider the days between Jan. 1st and Nov.1st as numbered squares put on the calendar solely for the purpose of separating one deer season from the next.”

No wonder the Ray family calendar has so few pages… and I thought September 15th was New Years Day!

Some hunters will swear on a stack of “Outdoor Life” magazines that moose and deer can read and write. I doubt very much if they can write, but have often wondered whether they can read. Before and after hunting season, these animals are often visible and flaunt themselves fearlessly near human habitation. At dawn on the morn of hunting season, they pull the disappearing act.

If these animals can read they must also possess superb eyesight and super-human deciphering abilities. Last year’s set of hunting regulations was so complicated as to discourage the most fervent hunter. In Region 7 moose hunters were restricted to antlered bulls with “two tines or less.” In other regions they were not.

A large well-antlered bull was spotted, browsing contentedly somewhere near an invisible dividing line separating Regions 6 and 7. Nearby, a hunter was seen scanning a copy of the hunting regulations and frantically peering at tiny maps. I wonder if the fellow ever determined whether the multi-antlered animal was legal or not!

Last fall my cousin, whose husband is a biologist, wrote that the college where he teaches was suffering from a severe shortage of “moose teeth” for studies. The only teeth in our house were firmly embedded in human jaws, so I contacted the local Fisheries and Wildlife office.

I received a gracious reply assuring me that they would send their surplus teeth to the college after they had enough for their “own aging.”

My mind travels in peculiar circles (so I’ve been told) An incongruous picture of a group of game biologists worrying about dental problems in their declining years flashed through my mind.

Our resident hunter filled me in. Moose teeth grow in layers similar to the way trees grow. “Aging” describes the process of cutting a tooth and counting these layers to determine the age of the animal.

I understand the BC Minister of the Environment had recently approved an 18,000 dollar programme to collect and study moose droppings. The government plans on asking help from the public and will pay for collected specimens.

Maybe I’ll accompany my husband on his hunting expeditions…. while he’s searching for a moose I’ll gather up some profitable evidence of where it’s been!





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