Rhymes, Rants & Accolades from North Central BC

RAFE MAIR

In the fall of 1999 I was on a book tour set up by my publisher Cynthia Wilson of Caitlin Press. As publisher Cynthia knew everyone of any journalistic significance in British Columbia. My book “The Ghosts Behind Him” was about my son Bruce’s battle with the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Cynthia knew Rafe Mair and was in on a secret that very few others were privy to. The loud, gruff, often confrontational CKNW radio talk show host suffered from clinical depression. During my interview with him he confided that if he didn’t take his antidepressant medication he would dissolve into tears in a very short time.

Rafe Mair passed away yesterday. Today I’m remembering when my cousin Florence drove me to the large building in New Westminster where he ruled in his glass and chrome domain. Florence and I sat all alone in the waiting area listening to Rafe’s angry rasping voice in a telephone interview with a politician named Moe Sihota who was part of the NDP government of the time. Moe seemed to be holding his own in the conversation but I was pretty intimidated. When it was my turn to enter Rafe’s glass enclosed cage I expected to be eaten alive in a lion’s den.

I was surprised to meet this friendly, soft-spoken gentleman who appeared to be far more of a pussycat than a lion. And Rafe was an excellent interviewer. He admitted that he hadn’t read the book but his queries and gentle comments drew the devastating story out from my heart and soul.

From my perspective Rafe Mair was a class act. And he went out of his way to let his audience know about the book signing I was to do in Langley that evening.

GUNS: tools or weapons?

I thought I’d put out my own personal perspective about the use of guns. Being a Canadian I will try to be polite.

I’ve been a part of the gun culture in rural British Columbia for most of  my life. As a child living in the bush with very litle money coming in, our family very often subsisted on moose meat and venison. I still have no qualms whatever about accepting the good healthful food that nature has to offer. My main concern has only been that the hunter’s rifle be properly sighted in, and that he aim precisely – not wounding the animal and causing it to live in pain and possible impairment. The rifle is a tool.  It needs to be a good one and be in skilled hands. That way the dying part will occur quickly; possibly quicker than what happens in meat processing plants.

I understand that in the States “the right to bear arms” is significant, dating back to centuries-old confrontations. People who are being shot at are given the inalienable right to shoot back. And everyone- even sweet little old ladies- are permitted to store derringers in their handbags.

One such lady from Montana stopped by our tourist information center during the last American election. She said, “If Hillary gets in, I’m moving to Canada.  You know what? She wants to take away our guns!”

If I kept a gun in my handbag I’d be dangerous. Weapons of any kind make me paranoid. I used to ride a bicycle through our rural neighborhood. On one occasion I was attacked by a dog soon after disembarking from my bike.  Using my bicycle as a shield, I managed to repel the beast until its owner saved me from being lunch. Even so, I was traumatized for weeks.

I had read that postmen sometimes carried an umbrella as a weapon to repel dogs when they made their rounds. Dogs were apparently intimidated by the sight of an umbrella opening up before their eyes. I tucked one in the basket for when I went bike-riding. If I spotted a dog I would clutch the umbrella, preparing to scare off any large, middle-sized and even little-bitty dogs I encountered. It got so bad that my “fight-flight” primal instincts lit up no matter how friendly the dog turned out to be.

After I began leaving my weapon at home I found I was no longer paranoid. Dogs and humans are alike in that there’s very few that actually need an umbrella in the face.

 

Do You Wanna Get Religion?

I am a lucky woman in that I have friends and relatives of all genders, cultures, personal choices,  disabilities, personalities, races and religions.  And probably a few other things I don’t know or care about.

I spent much of my life not really worrying about religion.  My friends and relatives were mostly atheists or agnostics and I sort of categorized myself as being one of the latter. But sometimes things happen in life where you want a bit of enlightment.  Anyway in my decling years I have come to a few conclusions about how to make life easier for myself.

The best part of joining a religious faith is that it empowers you to believe in God. In my younger years I’d sometimes  surmised, “It would be so nice if there really were a god but there is no real evidence that there is one.”  It wasn’t until a situation came up in my life that I found myself reaching out for some spiritual assistance. I discovered that I no longer had to fight battles that I could not win; that I could call out “Please!” to the universe and wait upon the expectation of saying of “Thank you.” I had finally got religion and for me it was a good thing.

 

 

 

 

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Fraser Lake Legion Updates

FRASER LAKE LEGION EVENTS

The Fraser Lake & District community spirit was alive and well this past Friday evening!  Thirty-nine beautifully painted chairs by a variety of artists and “out of the closet” artists were auctioned off to assist a family who’d suffered a devastating blow because of a workplace accident. Over 5000 dollars will be donated to the MacLeod family with another 500 dollars raised from a 50-50 raffle. Kudos to the Fraser Lake Arts Council, together with The Fraser Lake Royal Canadian Legion Branch 274 for sponsoring this worthwhile endeavor!

The Fraser Lake Legion has for many years been in partnership with the Fraser Lake Seniors Sports Group (specifically the carpet bowlers) and more recently, with the Fraser Lake Arts Council. Anyone 50 years or older is welcome to join in the carpet bowling games on Monday and Thursday afternoons. The Arts Council arranges events such as artist’s workshops, fundraisers and exhibitions; poetry and drama sessions; coffeehouses and other musical entertainment; including the ever-popular Home Routes Concert series.

The Legion has created a cosy, intimate area in the building with couches and comfortable chairs to create a homey atmosphere for some events. Also new dart boards are up and competitions will soon resume. Special sporting events can be viewed on the large TV screens.

The Senior Meals Program is available from the Legion, with hot supper meals being delivered by volunteers to seniors and handicapped residing in their homes and Silver Birch Lodge. ( We are looking for more volunteer drivers)

The Legion Cafe is open on weekdays from 8am until 4pm. On Wednesdays (wings) Thursdays (thirds) and Fridays (fish ‘n chips) the menu is extended until 8pm. The bar is also open on those evenings until 11pm (12pm on Fridays) Minors are welcome until the kitchen closes at 8pm.

Minors accompanied by parents are permitted to attend certain Legion events while the bar is open, but ONLY while the kitchen is also open.

The Home Routes Concert on Saturday, September 30 is to be held at the  home of Shaula Foote on the North Shore . Come and listen to a well known blues musician. I’m a country music fan from way back, but lately have developed a liking for blues and jazz. Guess you’re never too old for change!

THE BURNING SEASON

My house is not mine anymore
It is a dwelling place for flames
My dreams are not mine anymore
They turn to ashes
and smoke
We took all we could take
with us;  a photo album
Father’s Gibson guitar –a few
books –a suitcase full
of clothes –we drove our
station wagon out of town

I ask you; “Does the Devil
have a heart? Does he piss out
fire and brimstone?”
On one side of the highway
green grass –on the other
side -a dark wall of desolation
rising up from the
violated land

All we have left is family
We bind together the chains
Of the people
How we gather our sorrows
breathing in the dust
chased by death that falls
from the sky
The life-giving lightning
deals in destruction
and pain -the burning season
is upon us all

I think of the apocalypse:
how the fiery breath from
God’s lips is moving through
the dry wooden trees
We feel betrayed by the years
we used to love
We used to drink and dance
We used to hear
the laughter of children
Now a wild wind carries
the seed of the holocaust
and throws it down
on our backs
What are we to do but
drive into the setting sun?

Forty thousand
without homes –they follow
the highway down the
spine of the land
to the shining towns of
the South
They go to the North –they are taken
into people’s homes
and given sanctuary

In the evening the camps
are full of firefighters
their skin black and shiny
drinking coffee
In the morning
They return to their work
moving the machinery
digging ditches  -taking axes
and shovels in hand
cutting through the bushes
Above the sky is full of
planes and helicopters
bringing water
Faces covered with scarves
The air is ripe and heavy
with corruption

Once the lakes and forests
were for hunting and fishing
The waters were clear and cold
The fields were full of
strawberries –dandelions grew
on the side of hills
The woods hid secrets
where grouse and small mice
lived –where the owl took
his meal
Now the trees that remain
look like skeleton bones
The trees that remain
sing a funereal song
:A black mass in a church
no man has inhabited

Oh, where will we go?
Where is the rain to wash
Away these memories?
When we return
what will we find?
When the burning season
is over we will feel that
same dream
We will forget and forgive
until after the winter snows
and the spring floods
and it begins again

 

Poem by Lorna Crozier

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thesundayedition/july-16-2017-the-sunday-edition-1.4201674/the-gods-didn-t-warn-us-a-poem-about-the-b-c-wildfires-1.4201678

This morning when I turned my radio on I heard  one of my favorite Canadian authors, Lorna Crozier, read her poem about wildfires. Later today someone read the poem during our Poetry and Pie session at the legion. We listened to Lorna’s frightening depiction of the relentless force of nature that is presently desecrating huge portions of our province.

During the late nineteen-eighties and early-nineties folks in the Fraser Lake area radiated an optimistic and even a joyous attitude. The earth was revolving around the sun, just as it should, and both the sawmill and the mine were spewing out raw materials to be distributed to corporations and consumers around the world.

The Fraser Lake Writer’s group was busy. We writers participated in monthly creative writing exercises, and somewhere along the line, we’d picked up some funding to publish an anthology entitled “Seasonings” (Some people assumed it was a cookbook but the word-processor on the cover should have belied that assumption. Although the salt and pepper shakers, seemingly spewing out letters of the alphabet into the word processor, may have added to the confusion…)

I’m sure Elaine, my friend and fellow writer, remembers the time consuming process of setting up the manuscript, printing, collating, cutting, folding, stapling etc. Her entire family (including the dog) had to put up with piles of paper meticulously stacked and stored on her living room furniture for weeks at a time.

Anyway, the following poem is one of my favorite writings published in our anthology. Joyce Fraser was (and still is) missed by many people in the community. She passed away shortly after moving to Prince George in the late nineteen-nineties.

POEM BY MY DEAR FRIEND JOYCE FRASER- WRITTEN FOR FRASER LAKE WRITERS GROUP IN 1990

TWO SIDES OF A COIN
PART 1

You nurture him so carefully
Provide the best of food,
Make sure his home surroundings
Reflect a happy mood.

Some pre-school education
And lots of care and love
And take him off to Sunday School
To learn of “Him” above.

You see he does his homework,
Rejoice at every “A”
Give him certain chores to do
And also time to play.

He is liked by all his colleagues,
And considered a good sport
Sometimes you get a word of praise
For the way he has been taught

In water sports he soon excelled.
Dives from the highest plank,
Now when his future seems assured
He goes and robs a bank.

PART 2
His childhood was pathetic,
Not even basic care,
His personal environment
Was emotionally bare.

His father was a criminal,
With no apparent skill,
His mother embraced alcohol
And frequently was “ill.”

He learned at quite an early age,
Weakness invited scorn,
And developed ways of coping,
Thus, an angry youth was born.

Although he was intelligent,
He couldn’t fit in school
And acted out frustrations
By breaking every rule.

Along with other misfits,
Delinquents and the like,
He hung around and heard the songs
From the crowd around the mike.

Deep down beneath that hardened shell
A rhythm struck a chord,
And somewhere in that misfit’s heart
His first ambition soared.

“Hey man, just show me how that’s done,
I’ll come and sit nearby
If I could only play like that,
I’d really get a high.”

With addictive zeal he practiced,
And soon his very name
Was immediately synonymous
With talent and with fame.

But the hard times were remembered,
They could not be erased,
And so, among philanthropists,
His name was highly placed.

By now a famous Rock Star
With wealth beyond his dreams,
He proved that what a person is,
Is not always what he seems.

He never knew why life turned round,
Could find no one to thank,
But he always put up bail
For a youth who robbed a bank.

[Note: this poem always makes me cry]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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