Rhymes, Rants & Accolades from North Central BC

Archive for December, 2017

TURKEYS ARE STRANGE BIRDS

Mar 6,1975  Sense and Nonsense

Turkeys are strange birds. They remind me of one of Al Capp’s creatures in the cartoon strip Lil’ Abner. This little animal was called a shmoo. In appearance it looked exactly like the nogoodniks, which dwelt in the land of Lower Slobbovia. But the shmoos were much more obliging than the nogoodniks and far tastier. They loved to die and did so, happily, whenever anyone looked at them with a hungry eye.

Turkeys love to die too. However, they are usually very selfish about it. We had some baby turkeys at our place last spring. We kept them in a shed with numerous heat lamps to keep them warm and cosy. They had comfortable beds and special kitchen and plumbing facilities, complete with maid service at least twice a day. Still they insisted on dying.

One turkey somehow swallowed a three inch stick. The stick took up all the space needed for food swallowing, and other important things. My husband poked and probed at the turkey’s gullet to encourage the stick back up its throat. He managed to do this and get hold of the end of the stick. The turkey was quite surprised when he removed the uncomfortable object. Its glazed little eyeballs lit up and it immediately started eating, pecking at the food double-time. It ate so fast and so much that we were afraid it might overdo it and die anyway.

One day when the turkeys were only a few weeks old, the power went off. We immediately gathered up all the shivering little balls of fluff and distributed them in cardboard boxes in front of the kitchen propane stove. When we realized the power would be off for some time, we had to think about water for the thirsty birds. We put some water in a soup bowl with a rock in it for weight, and placed it in one of the boxes with the turkeys. They instantly crowded towards it and then into it, piling on top of one another. When we separated them there was one poor little guy at the bottom of the pile. He was soppy wet, bedraggled and completely prepared to die. We picked him up and placed him in a solitary nest on the oven door. He immediately turned over on his back with his little feet in the air. The look in his eyes was of one whose earthly cares were almost over. His eyelids drooped and soon were completely closed. We agreed with him that he was fated to die young and would never grace a holiday table.

However, the heat from the oven soon dried his little feathers and penetrated his tiny turkey heart. Before long his eyelids began to quiver. I’m sure he thought he was in turkey heaven and was a bit reluctant to see what it was all about. Finally he opened his eyes, blinked a few times as if he couldn’t believe it was only us he saw, and flipped over onto his feet. After a few shakes, he was completely back to normal again.

I have noticed one thing about turkeys that have had a close shave with death. They don’t seem overjoyed and overwhelmed with thankfulness at the prospect of facing life again. They seem to have a ‘comme ci comme ca’ attitude about the whole thing. Could it be they know that their ultimate destination is the oven? Throughout history their forefathers have all had a similar fate. Chickens at least have a period of egg-laying before they become roast-pan or stew-pot material. At least many female chickens do.

Turkey eggs have never enjoyed the popularity chicken eggs have had – possibly because their eggs are too big to fit the recipes. Now that we are switching to the metric system of weights and measures, a lot of new cook books are being written. Maybe some of these cook books will contain recipes using turkey eggs. I certainly hope so. This may lead to giving the turkeys of the future a whole new will to live.

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SCIENCE FICTION OR?

Feb 27, 1975  Sense and Nonsense

I used to be a Science Fiction nut. At the time I believed these books to be way out imaginings of the writers and in no way predictions of the future. Now I am beginning to wonder if some of the authors weren’t clairvoyant. One book I recall reading years ago was called Brave New World. It was written in the thirties by Aldous Huxley. It concerned the world of the future, a world in which people were hatched in bottles and graded like chicken eggs. “Mother” “father” and “parent” were obscene words.

Everyone was divided into groups. The working class groups looked a lot like one another. They were created by a process of egg-splitting which resulted in dozens of identical twins from one egg. The top groups were carefully selected and bred so that they would have high intelligence. People had no choice in their way of life and actually were content with their lot because of constant hypnotic conditioning. Naturally there were one or two rebels to make the story interesting. They did the unheard of thing of falling in love. However, there was no way they could buck the system so both the hero and the heroine died in the end.

On TV the other night they had an interesting documentary concerning cows. Some high class cows are being turned into breeding machines. The cows selected are fed fertility pills so that they are capable of having 8-14 calves. Eight days after the eggs are artificially fertilized by a bull, they remove the embryos from the cows’ uterus. They then plant them in the uteruses of other cows. These other cows, which are not necessarily pedigreed, bear these superior calves, little knowing that they are foster mothers to their own offspring. I suppose they sometimes wonder why junior resembles neither themselves nor papa but true mother-love overlooks such curiosity.

Apparently some scientists would like to try this with people. The trouble is people are not cows. They can read and write and protest a lot. The idea is to get people who are extremely intelligent to have numerous progeny supposedly as smart as they are. Brains are supposed to be hereditary. The trouble is they sometimes skip a generation if there is even one small dumb gene to gum up the works. They are like curly hair. My mother has curly hair but she was very selfish with it. My brother got a bit of a wave but as for me, my hair is so straight you could draw inches on it and use it for a ruler.

It would be terrible to have 8 – 14 children and find they were all less intelligent than you. Especially if none of them had curly hair. Of course if other people bore them for you, they would probably want to keep them. If it was me I would be very curious about them anyway. I would want to know how many were girls, how many were boys, and if they ever became mathematical geniuses or whatever.

If they became mathematical geniuses, it would not be because of my genes. Math was always my poorest subject in school. Luckily Brave New World will not come to pass in my generation, I’m afraid I would be selected as a host mother. I would hate to have kids spouting algebraic equations at two years old and balancing my cheque book at three. On second thought this may not be a bad idea. Our cheque book is always a mess so I usually place complete faith in the girls who work at the bank in hopes that their arithmetic is better than mine. If we had a real bright child he could also do our income tax returns. That would be a big step forward for modern science.

MUSICAL INCLINATIONS

June 26, 1975  Sense and Nonsense

Many people that you meet at house-parties seem to be musically inclined, A few are more inclined than musical but most can play a musical instrument to an extent or else are able to sing on key. At some house-parties there seems to be more musical instruments than people. Most of these are guitars although there are always a few rugged individuals who play a banjo, mandolin, or accordion. As the party progresses, brand new talents emerge. Some people raid the hostesses’ cutlery, not to steal the spoons but to play them. They place the spoons back to back, holding them chopstick fashion between the fingers. I tried it once and discovered it is not easy to do. The best spoon players must practice a lot in their spare time – probably after every meal.

I am sure there must be an easier instrument to learn to play than a guitar. One must not only learn where to place their fingers and how to strum, but also to do both at once. I found it is a lot like patting your head while rubbing your tummy. During my one and only guitar lesson I found myself becoming confused and having to fight the urge to strum with my fret fingering fingers and fret finger with my strumming fingers. This may have been psychological because of the pain. All the fingers on my left hand became sore very quickly. Why can’t they make guitar strings out of some softer material than they do? I understand that this is part of the test of whether you will make the grade as a guitar player or not. If there were no pain involved there would probably be a lot more guitar players than there already are.

Another problem is that one cannot have long fingernails on their left hand, although they are an advantage on the strumming hand. The fingernails save the necessity of using a pick. If you see someone with short fingernails on one hand and long ones on the other it is a safe bet that they play guitar.

I have always loved to sing. I discovered at a tender age that people prefer to hear you sing on key. When I was a child I used to diligently learn all the words to a song and I would learn the tune, too. I was fine until I opened my mouth. The words would come out alright but the tune would stay inside. This didn’t bother me too much at that time, I would sing anyway in a very loud voice. I sang all the time. I sang in the house, in the barn and on the way to school. I even sang in school sometimes. Other kids had to sit in the corner for chewing gum. I had to sit in the corner for singing.

One day the teacher handed me a brand new package of gum and told me I could chew gum in school anytime I wanted to. The other kids thought this made me teacher’s pet but I knew differently. My feelings were badly hurt. I never sang out loud when there was anyone around from that day forth. Instead I would sing mentally. I still have this habit at times. I guess it must be a trifle disconcerting to see someone with a glazed look in their eye, tapping their foot and snapping their fingers when there is no audible music in the house at all.

My husband would like me to learn to play bass guitar. He insists that it is easy to play and if I learned he and I could play together on long winter nights, instead of playing crib or watching T.V. He taught me one tune and he was right. It is easy or at least easier than regular guitar. I had “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” down pat until we plugged the instrument into the amplifier. Instantly my mind went blank and my fingers immobilized.

The instrument that can express my talents has to be much quieter than the bass. Until I find a painless quiet musical instrument to learn to play, I am afraid I shall have to continue singing mentally

LOTTERY TICKETS

May 29, 1975  Sense and Nonsense

Almost everyone is buying lottery tickets these days. They all believe it is their turn to win and many have special rituals they perform to influence their luck. My turn has not come because I have yet to buy a ticket. There is nothing so depressing to watch than a lottery draw on TV when one knows that not one of the tickets in the pile has their name on it. I always vow fervently to buy one before the next draw. When I do win I shall nail not only the snowshoes to the wall, but all the skates and winter boots as well – pointy sides up of course.

The only thing I can remember winning at all was an alarm clock. I was quite angry though, when it arrived in the mail. I was expecting my watch which I had left at the jewellers’ weeks before. When this large thing arrived, with no explanation whatever, I assumed they had confused things and sent me somebody’s clock and that somebody had my watch. I missed my watch dreadfully. My wrist itched and my eyes ached from glancing at the bare spot where it normally reposed. The next day my watch arrived along with the good news that the clock was the door prize for the day. My watch ticked beautifully for one week. The clock ticked for 6 1/2 years.

My husband was the lucky winner of two (live) roosters at a Halloween dance one year. They could have been the beginnings of a successful chicken ranch if we had had the facilities. As it was we lived in town and eggs were cheap at the time. Being roosters there was no way they could ever lay eggs anyway. Luckily our cousins had a small but chicken-less farm not far away and kindly volunteered to fatten them up until such time as we had occasion for a chicken dinner.

At 2:00 a.m. we deposited them in the only building which had any room for them – the pig pen. The pigs who resided there became extremely frightened and probably lost a lot of weight before the roosters left – by air. Two hours later, at daybreak, our sleeping cousins were rudely awakened by two roosters renting the quiet air with their raucous cock-a-doodling. They had flown into the attic of the house and like roosters everywhere were early risers.

For the next week the roosters continued the cycle they had started on Saturday night. They would disappear during the day and at night would fly up into the attic to roost. At 4:00 a.m. they would announce their presence to the world. The house was unfinished at the time and there was no ceiling in the bedroom. All that separated the roosters upstairs from our cousins downstairs was strips of insulation loosely tacked to the beams. There was always a danger that the roosters would fall through during their enthusiastic gymnastics which accompanied their early morning sing-songs.

Apparently one morning this was what happened. We were never told the full story and have never dared ask. Our cousin arrived at the door one morning, clothed mostly in a dark scowl, with two dead roosters in his hands. I timidly mentioned that supper would be at 6:00 that evening before he drove away. We cleaned and plucked the roosters and discovered that without their feathers, insides and cock-a-doodle-doos there was very little left. I put the remains in a pot with a lot of vegetables and boiled them the better part of the day. When our cousins arrived I added dumplings, The broth and the dumplings were delicious. The vegetables were over-done of course but the strings of what we took to be chicken were still tough.

My husband has just informed me that he has bought a lottery ticket. We are now the proud owners of a piece of paper which in three months time may be worth a quarter of a million dollars. If we do “Win the West” the first thing I would like to do is invite our cousins to another chicken dinner. This time I plan on inviting Colonel Sanders as well, providing he does the cooking and providing he brings his own chickens, dead and suitably dressed for the occasion.

KNOCK KNOCK JOKES

1974-76  Sense and Nonsense

Knock, Knock Jokes, are being revived by the younger set. Who can forget the classic routines of an earlier generation of children. “Knock, Knock” had to be answered by “Who’s there?” The answer sometimes was “Jimmy”. The punch-line for that one, accompanied by appropriate giggles, was, “Jimmy a little kiss.”

Hysterical….? I thought so, although I was a parent and supposedly immune to childish humour.

The other day I heard a re-run of my favorite Knock, Knock joke. “Knock, knock. Who’s there?” was answered by “Dwayne”. “Dwayne who?” was followed by “Dwayne the bathtub! I’m dwowning!!” The 10-13 year olds involved in reincarnating this tale had obviously heard it before as well. None of them laughed, they merely smiled. Me? I almost fell off by chair.

Not long ago some other mothers and myself were openly eavesdropping on our off-springs’ conversation. Knock, Knock jokes were being told in a frenzied fashion. Some of them we had never heard before because the children were inventing them on the spot. We wiped the tears from our eyes and managed to control ourselves before casting about mentally to invent our own adult Knock, Knock joke. One mother, spying a planter suspended from the ceiling by a braided rope cried, “Macramé!”

“Macramé who?” someone asked. She stammered a little before replying “Macramé—but then again, she may not!”

Luckily the children were in the other room and did not overhear this slightly risqué version of their very own Knock, Knock jokes. They would have suspected their maternal parents of spiking their coffee with something stronger than cream and sugar.

Since that day, I have found myself idly trying to fit names into Knock, Knock routines. I have Knock, Knocked while doing dishes, sweeping floors and making beds. I have even Knock, Knocked while watching TV. My spirits soared while watching an old Mary Tyler Moore show. Ted Baxter invented a very successful Knock, Knock joke, although it took him the whole show to do it.

For the benefit of those who somehow missed this hilarious story, Ted based his joke on the name “Anna Marie Albergetti”. He eventually cajoled Mary into querying “Anna Marie Albergetti who?” He then burst into song with the first line of Dark Town Strutter’s Ball:   “Albergetti in a taxi, honey…”

I thought, “If Ted Baxter can invent a Knock, Knock joke, so can I. I frantically Knock, Knocked on every name I knew. I even Knock, Knocked through a list in an old baby book. I eventually became ethnical (a word not yet in Webster’s dictionary meaning “concerning an ethnic group..” – or some such thing.)

Anyway, here are my Knock, Knock” jokes. A Cockney English pilot named “Edwin”. “Edwin, who?” you ask. “An Edwin ‘ampers ‘elicopter ‘andling”.

A Swedish sailboat captain named “Mervin”. “Mervin who?”  “Mervin iss vanted on the vater”.

A Ukranian named “Wadchuck” “Wadchuck who?” “Wadchuck wood if a wadchuck could chuck wood”.

Pretty bad, eh? I think I’d better leave the Knock, Knock” jokes to the younger set.

ELECTRICITY IS SCARY

1974 – 76  Sense and Nonsense

Electricity bewilders and confuses me. It also scares me silly if I allow myself to think about it. The fact that all that energy is zigzagging throughout my house all day, every day, harnessed only by very small wires is something I’d rather not think about. I have been told the stuff is safe. However, some primitive part of me is awed by something I cannot see, but which magically supplies heat, light, refrigeration, radio and TV, all at the same time.

In school we learned a little about electricity. I remember the little fellows called “electrons” which were negative and the little fellows called “protons” which were positive. Only the electrons could move and they formed the electric current. The protons just sat there and did nothing. The electric current was measured in units called “amps” and the force pushing it was measured in units called “volts”. When you multiplied an amp by a volt you came up with a “watt” – which was exactly what I said when the teacher was explaining the subject.

Another thing I learned in school concerning electricity was never to trust a fellow classmate. I was the only girl in a class full of boys. A favorite pastime was reaching for my hand – while 6 volts of electricity zoomed through their bodies. They had a battery rigged up especially for that purpose. When a good looking boy grasps a girl by the hand she naturally expects to feel a jolt, but the jolts I received had nothing to do with sex appeal!

I am one of those people who are super-sensitive to electric shocks. I did not know this until a few years ago. I planned on washing clothes at a neighbour’s house as she had more room than I had. We had moved my washing machine over to where both of us could use it.

As I placed my clothes in the water I felt the first jolt. “It must be in your mind,” I thought. “This machine has never shocked you before….?”

I tried to put the clothes through the wringer and almost crawled through with them! The machine hated me! It gave me shock after shock. My neighbour tentatively touched my clothes and then smiled. She received no shock at all. She eventually did all my wash for me while I sat miserably on a chair watching her.

“Your cowardice has finally caught up with you” I thought, “Everything you have ever feared is about to turn on you!”

My neurotic musings ceased during the final wash-load when my neighbour received her first shock. I wasn’t crazy at all! Later my husband explained that the receptacle we had used was inadequate. To safely use that plug-in we should have had a three-pronged-plug instead of the one attached to the machine.

Not long ago I had occasion to visit a lady who owned a radar [microwave] oven. She poured me a cup of cold coffee and placed it in her oven for a few seconds. The coffee became piping hot while the cup remained cold. She informed me she often cooked bacon on a paper towel in her oven. She also cooked whole meals by placing the food raw on the plates she later served them in. She insisted her oven would cook the food while the paper and porcelain stayed cold.

The other night I had a dreadful dream. I had somehow become trapped in a gigantic radar oven. Millions of little men who called themselves “electrons” were stabbing me with tiny forks while other little men whom I assumed to be protons were standing back laughing. My dream faded out as dreams often do and I found myself an invisible witness to my own demise. My family were searching for me and finally opened the oven which had shrunk to normal size. They discovered a tiny pile of ashes beneath my clothing which was neatly folded and unharmed on a rack. My family did not seem overly concerned. They merely shook their heads and muttered “Well it was her fault. She should have used a three pronged plug!”

THE VIRUS REIGNS SUPREME

 

February 6, 1975  Sense and Nonsense

This is the time of the year when the virus reigns supreme. Even six-foot-plus people are being struck down by the flu and cold bugs. In fact everyone you meet strikes up their conversation with a cough, a sneeze or at the very least a sniffle. Some people seem to have a combination of one or more viruses and are in the almost enviable position of being unable to get out of bed at all. The rest of us drag around all day looking for sympathy from equally miserable friends and relatives. Our shopping lists are headed by aspirin and tissue paper, followed by chest rub, cough-syrup, camphorated oil and antihistamines. Vitamin C pills are best sellers, as well as the delicious drink stuff advertised for colds.

How can you tell a common cold from the flu? Apparently the symptoms are very similar. One sure way to find out is to have a really bad case of it so that you have to visit the doctor. He will give you a prescription and if it does no good at all then it is probably the flu. They do have antibiotics that will fight certain flu viruses. The problem is that every year a different type of flu is going around than the type that made the rounds the year before. The doctors are usually a year behind. Even if you are lucky enough to catch last year’s variety they have a terrible time telling it from the flu bug of five years ago. Maybe if they had powerful enough microscopes they could count their tiny teeth.

I am a firm believer in steaming a cold. We have a little vaporizer which I plug in whenever the baby sniffles in her sleep. You are supposed to put salt in the water to control the amount of steam wanted. Ours starts out just fine, but in the middle of the night it begins to rumble loudly. This is probably because it has reached the salt crystals at the bottom of the bowl. The first night it did this we awoke mystified as to the origin of this sound which caused the whole house to vibrate. We concluded that it had to be a sawmill or a train.

As the sawmill is supposed to be across the lake and the trains are supposed to be on their tracks miles away, we soon realized this couldn’t be. It took a bit of sleuthing before we tracked the noise down to the very small innocent looking steamer.

What with everyone constantly exercising the coughing and sneezing muscles, the laughing muscles are becoming sadly neglected. However, once in a while a little humour creeps into the situation. The other day I was beginning to sound like a real hypochondriac. I mentioned lo a member of the family that I was probably getting ear infection as I couldn’t hear out of my left ear. This person expressed concern and suggested I should pour some warm “castrated” oil in my ear.

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