Rhymes, Rants & Accolades from North Central BC

Archive for January, 2018

IF IT MOVES FEED IT –  IF IT DOESN’T DUST IT

Sept 15 1977 Sense and Nonsense

I am finally completing my spring cleaning. I scrubbed half the walls in our living room last May. The clean part looked so good I decided to leave the rest dirty for a few hours, just to feast my eyes on the obvious results of my efforts. That was a mistake. I can’t remember whether the cow calved, (we don’t have a cow) the cat kittened, or the bunnies bunnied. However something drastic must have happened to postpone my spring cleaning for so long. Suddenly the calendar said it was September, and just as suddenly I decided I was tired of people commenting on how well the two shades of wall panelling harmonized–they are supposed to be one color.

I once read a book concerning people like myself. We are called random housekeepers. I don’t remember the book that well but the authors’ opening advice: “If it moves, feed it. If it doesn’t dust it” was very helpful.

Random housekeepers are not necessarily lazy people, just inconsistent. We need a rule of thumb to clean by. The author also mentioned that people may not notice a randomly tidied house if the phone is clean and shiny. She said it was very important to always have a clean telephone. Well, I hope everyone who visits us notices that my phone is free from dust, grease and bread dough, most of the time. For some reason, whenever I have my hands knuckle-deep in bread dough, the phone invariably rings. I know from experience, that if I take time to scrape and wash the gummy stuff from my hands, my caller will hang up.

I am thinking of writing the phone company, and suggest they invent a phone with a receiver than can be unhooked and immersed in dishwater. On second thought, I suppose the little holes would fill with soap bubbles, distorting the tone of future conversations. I shall just have to learn to pick up the phone with my toes or teeth. (How do you talk on a phone, if your teeth are full of it?)

I have invented a few rules of my own to clean by. Two jobs I despise are cleaning the oven and defrosting the fridge. I find it very easy to ignore my oven, but impossible to ignore my fridge. When the freezer compartment of my refrigerator becomes iced up, the little door refuses to stay shut. (A weak spring on one side falls off) When this happens I automatically buy a can of oven cleaner.

My hard and fast rule is: Never defrost the fridge without cleaning the oven on the same day. Rassling with the door to the freezing compartment 20 times a day is too irritating to live with for long. If the spring on the door was ever replaced, I would have the dirtiest oven in town. Another rule I have is to wash and wax the kitchen floor whenever I wash my hair. I invented a similar rule when our 3-year-old was a baby. I washed the floor every day after I bathed the baby (I had to). As she grew older and no longer required daily baths in the kitchen, the floor had fewer scrubbings. In our house the rule is; the smaller the baby, the cleaner the floor.

I am thinking of inventing some more rules–such as whenever the vacuum cleaner bag needs replacing, I should shampoo the rug. Another job I always put off is washing the windows. I usually wait until the landscape looks blurry before cleaning them. I think I shall make a rule, that every time I have to scrape bread dough off the phone, I also have to wash the windows.

Last year I got my spring cleaning done months before the leaves turned color. We tentatively planned on selling the old homestead, I scrubbed, painted and polished until the place gleamed. It looked so good that before the first prospective buyer phoned, we had changed our minds about selling. That was a drastic way of getting the spring cleaning done on time, but maybe we should advertise the place again, next spring. Possibly next year I shall finish my spring cleaning before September.

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I’M GLAD I’M NOT SPORTS’ NUT

Oct 27, 1977  Sense and Nonsense  [Nechako Chronicle]

This time of year I am glad I am not a sports’ nut. How does one follow the baseball finals, the football finals, as well as the first few games of the hockey season? The other day baseball was on one television channel and hockey was on the other. At the same time, a football game was droning on a local radio station. All my favorite T.V. shows were pre-empted! The male persons in our household happily agreed to watch baseball. (The youngest prefers hockey, but he was outnumbered.)

I sulkily retired to the kitchen and listened to the football game on the radio. I dislike football intensely. However once in a while I force myself to listen to one, to try to decipher what there is to it that lures people to pay outrageous prices just to sit and watch it in the pouring rain and/or icy wind. I have finally decided that it must be a variation of the “hammer on the head” syndrome  (it feels so good when it’s over and you can go home to your nice warm bed!)

Hockey is a game that requires an adequate knowledge of the rules to enjoy watching. I have watched quite a few minor hockey games, but the only thing I am absolutely sure of is that if the puck gets past the big kid in front of the net, who is wearing a different coloured sweater from the one your kid is wearing, there is cause for jubilation.

The one spectator sport that I have a certain knowledge of the rules, is baseball. The rules are similar to softball, a game we used to play in school. At recess time, two kids would appoint themselves captains, and choose their teams. As it was a small school, it was necessary for every kid to participate in order to play a proper game. Sometimes the captains would fight over me. As I had trouble hitting the ball, throwing the ball, and also catching the ball, I knew it was a dubious distinction.

One captain would say, “You can have her!” The other would argue. “No. you can have her. I had her last lime!” In later years, after I started wearing glasses. I discovered that being able to see the ball improved my ability to play the game somewhat.

I understand that there are people in this world who cannot bear to miss a televised sport. I can just picture such an addict, sitting equal distance from two television sets, one turned to a baseball game, the other to a hockey game. Possibly, he also has a radio tuned to a football game.

Catfish Hunter winds up for the pitch…It’s on the centre line…The ball is out of bounds…A line drive to center field…and icing is called …It’s a forward pass on the fifteen yard line…and it’s now in Canadian territory… There’s a double play, and the runner on second is out…He is tackled in the end-zone … and a penalty is called for high-sticking!…Esposito fires the puck at the boards….Strike one!… The ball is on the 45 yard line…It’s a foul ball! …Robinson passes it to LaFleur. He shoots!… It’s a touchdown!!….The Dodgers win 5 to 1!!!…Drink Pepsi!.. In your Pontiac car, wearing your new 18-hour bra

WAY UP NORTH – 1977

June 30 1977.  Sense and Nonsense

A few weeks ago we went on a camping trip up the Alaska Highway and into the Yukon Territories. On returning home we took the Stewart – Cassiar route to Hazelton, B.C. First of all I must insist that we had a good lime despite the weather. The reason I am emphasizing our enjoyment is because of the difficulty we had in convincing other people of this. I had written a day to day account of our travels and recently read this journal aloud to some friends.

One person remarked “Sounds like you had a great time, glad I wasn’t there.” He added “You should have left mailing addresses along the way. Then we could have sent you postcards from home reading, ‘Having wonderful time. Wish you were here!'”

As it was we were unlucky weather-wise in the Yukon. We camped near the Rancheria River for three days while the weather gradually worsened. A tent can be very comfortable in the rain with the proper use of plastic tarps and a little heat. However when the rain is combined with a multi-kilometer-per-hour wind gusting off the snow covered mountains it is a different story. Still I cannot understand why our friends misinterpreted the mood of my journal. On pages 1, 2 and 3 and again on page 14, I mentioned the sunshine. I also described the spectacular scenery, the wildlife and the interesting things we saw and did.

On every page I pointed out exactly where my husband tried to catch a fish. On the final page I devoted a whole paragraph to the scene where he finally did catch a fish. That this fish dwelt in waters quite close to home should have been incidental.

I would like to relate some excerpts from my journal which drew chuckles (mostly sympathetic) from our friends. “We camped just south of Chetwynd last night. We were starving and yesterdays’ stew sure tasted good. We used the gas lamp for heat in the tent. However it ran dry before 3:00 A.M. when Fern (our small daughter) decided to throw up (too much pop & ice – cream). It was at this time that I remembered where I had left the flashlight – at home naturally.”

“The road to Ft. Nelson was rough, rough, rough and it rained steadily. This morning Leon discovered his power-saw was nearly floating in the plywood box on top of the car. We stopped and he drilled a small hole and let out about 15 gallons of water.

“Last night we camped at Muncho Lake, a lovely, blue-green lake surrounded by snow covered mountains. A little wind during the night woke me up. It was stirring the plastic tarp on the tent. I suppose the ancient bear turd we noticed earlier prompted the dream I was having. The rattle of the plastic scared me half to death.”

Note : Some people have hinted that we were a trifle foolhardy to go on an extended camping trip with merely a tent between us and the bears at night. We decided not to invite the bears to our home-away-from-home for a midnight snack. We methodically wrapped every particle of food and any dirty dishes. Before retiring we placed it all in the trunk of the car. I refused to succumb to the urge to throw food particles and pour grease on the campfire at night. We gift-wrapped the garbage and deposited it in a far off garbage can. I hopefully believed that the hissing of the gas-lamp which burned all night (except the first night) was repellant to our furry friends. As an added precaution my husband kept his “bear tranquilizer” (an axe) handy.

“Yesterday we had our first car trouble. The signal lights quit flashing and Leon was fiddling under the hood trying to locate the trouble. All of a sudden I noticed smoke rising from the steering column. I switched off the key, grabbed Fern from the back seat, yelled “Fire” and hit the pavement in my bare feet. As it turned out it was no catastrophe. The signal lights had burned out and who needs signal lights up here.

At Laird hot-springs: “We hiked up through the woods, past the second pool to the first pool. The water in this pool bubbled up like a gigantic witches’ cauldron. A sign proclaimed that this water ‘may be injurious to your health.’ I suppose being parboiled would be “injurious to your health” as even the second pool was plenty hot – especially on the one end (It was nice after we got used to it.)

“At Watson Lake we heard the news of the outside world – that Pierre and Maggie have split up. The radio reception up here has been intermittent – mostly not. All along the Alaska Highway there are liquid outlets at regular intervals – gas for your car and booze for the driver. You can’t always buy food but there is no way you have to stay sober.

“At Rancheria they insisted that bait was not necessary to attract an arctic grayling. They told us a naked lure was all we needed. I bought a can of shrimp anyway (we ate it later) I also bought hamburgers to go (plain $2.25) a dozen Yukon eggs (the same eggs Robert Service wrote the poem about) and a pound of coffee. The coffee was only $2.50 a pound, a pre-inflation price for pre-inflation coffee. (We just used twice as much).

“The fish would not bite – bait or no bait. This morning we both had the same idea – let’s leave! It poured rain all night and the icy wind threatened to blow our Yukon based canvas home back to B.C. We have seen at least three motor – homes towing smaller vehicles. These vehicles are a mess. Smashed headlights, mud-splattered and rock pitted. This morning Leon noticed one big outfit with trail bikes strapped on the back. At least he thought they were trail bikes – completely mud encrusted with mud stalagmites hanging down.

“At Cassiar we could find no motels or hotels or even a laundromat. There were no stores to speak of at all. The 1500 people who live there must have their food and clothing handed out on payday. We finally found a gas station a few miles out of town.

“Well we did it! We said we could probably sleep in the car if we had to. Leon in the front seat and Fern and I in the back. Aside from the fact that my rear end kept going to sleep (Fern hogged the bed) and Leon was about a foot too long for the width of the car, we managed about 4 hours of sleep.

“At Tattogga Lake we found a small laundromat. Clean clothes! I don’t know if I can stand it!  Thought about a shower too. However, I had had a sponge hath at our breakfast – stop lake this morning. Decided that and clean clothes were enough shock to the system for one day.”

Near Stewart. B.C: “Fern could hardly believe her eyes when she saw a Volkswagen “bug ” caught up in a tree. Don’t know how long it had been there, but it was nestled up there quite snugly. Not far from there we passed an enormous piece of ice which extended down the mountain almost to the road. The sign said “Active Avalanche. Don’t Stop.” We didn’t.

“The Kitwanga Country grows the most enormous cottonwood trees. Every swamp contained huge prolific skunk cabbages. Also lots of mosquitoes and blackflies. Our B.C. mosquitoes are only ½ the size of the Yukon ones but they are much quicker. The size of the Yukon variety makes them more awkward and therefore easier to catch unawares.”

[Note 2018] My neighbor recently filled me in on the history of the Volkswagon in the tree. On a long ago road trip my neighbour’s daughter and her young friends had hoisted the “bug” up into the branches after its motor died. [So much for my theory that it had been caught up in an avalanche]

PYRAMID POWER

May 13, 1976  Sense and Nonsense

Power seems to be a word everyone is using these days. People seem to be searching for non-mechanical sources of energy. Some groups of people have formed organizations using the term “power.” We have had “black power” – also red, white and yellow power. We have also had “flower power.”

The newest kind of power is “pyramid power”. Thanks to Red Kelly and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ hockey team, pyramid power has become very popular. In one hockey game in Toronto, the Maple Leafs clobbered the mighty Philadelphia Flyers with the help of this new kind of power. Mr. Kelly tucked tiny plastic pyramids under the Toronto bench. Some of the players placed these pyramids on their heads during intermissions.

The results seemed to be spectacular. The Maple Leafs scored goal after goal. That they lost the next game in Philadelphia was almost incidental. After all as someone pointed out, the Philadelphia stadium is in itself shaped like a pyramid. This probably neutralized the power of the smaller pyramids within. Besides it was rumoured the Philadelphia team were armed with some “pyramid power” of their own.

The ancient Egyptians were great believers in pyramids. They built huge structures in that peculiar shape throughout the land. Their dead, who were often treated better than their live counterparts, were entombed in these large stone buildings. They were buried with plenty of food, jewels, weapons and servants (who were also dead) to make their afterlife as comfortable as possible. Why they chose the pyramid shape for this purpose instead of the easier to build square or rectangular, nobody knows for sure.

Some people believe pyramids have supernatural properties. I have been told that if you place a glass of milk under a pyramid it will stay fresh for days. A friend told us of an experiment someone made with a banana. He peeled it and placed half of it under a pyramid. He left the other half just outside the strange looking little structure. The banana half that was under the pyramid remained appetizingly white and firm. The other half very shortly turned brown and sticky.

I have decided to go into the pyramid business. I shall call it Pyramids Unlimited. After all, if thousands of people paid $3.98 for pet rocks last Christmas how much will they pay for this much handier item? I will shortly have for sale custom made pyramids in the newest spring shades to complement anyone’s wardrobe. These pyramids will be designed to be worn as a hat on one’s head. Some will be equipped with cleverly concealed shelves to store your milk and bananas. These last I would recommend should not be worn at all but instead placed in the kitchen to replace the old fashioned refrigerator.

P.S. I am too late: Eatons and some other stores are already selling pyramids. The pyramids sell for $3.49 which has to be a bargain. I shall have to start a new business. How about Squares Unlimited? A square has special powers too. Just add glass and it’s a window, add wood and it can be a table, chair or even a house (if you have enough squares).

Add eyes, a nose, mouth and a body and it is a certain kind of person – someone who insists there is no such thing as pyramid power!

JANUARY IS NOT A GOOD MONTH

Jan, 1975  Sense and Nonsense  [Nechako Chroncle]

January is not a good month. It is cold, snowy and generally miserable throughout. The biggest thing wrong with January, however, is that it is too long. February hasn’t that much going for it either but at least it is short, especially on non-leapyears. After you get past Valentine’s Day it seems to be downhill all the way into March. But then I never cared all that much for March either. In this country it seems to have many more lionish lionish qualities than lambish ones and like January it is too long. As a matter of fact most of the bad months are longer than the good ones.

Some of the best months of the year only contain thirty days. For instance, April, when things are definitely showing the promise of Spring, is a relatively short month. June is another good month. Its thirty days are crammed full of sunshine, flowers and weddings. In some towns couples have to book ahead many months to have a June wedding. A lot of them have to settle for July, as the churches are too busy in June.

September is my favorite month of the year. The Fall foliage is gorgeous, the weather is still warm and the bugs have mostly disappeared. In no time at all September  is over though, and and crummy, windy, dull October looms ahead with its vast expanse on the calendar.

I am considering writing a cabinet minister. I am not sure which one, and inform him of my suggestions for revising and improving the calendar. I am sure most Canadians would welcome my ideas especially the one concerning January.

I think January short be shortened dractistically, if not outlawed entirely. Twenty-one days is long enough for the coldest month of the year. The ten days left over could be added onto June which would lengthen our summers considerably. I would also suggest shortening March and adding the extra days to April. This would shorten the period known as “break-up.” It would also speed up the grass, leaves, birds, and other phenomena which indicate Spring.

My personal opinion is that October should be shortened also. Some people would probably disagree with me, especially the witches, goblins and ghosts who have had the last day of October to themselves for many years. I see no reason why they can’t change Halloween from the the 31st to the 21st of October. The ten days difference could be divided equally between August and September.

There would be one little problem, however, in this new calendar. The poem which has always been a reliable way to remember which month has how many days, would no longer be useful. Maybe we could try to revise it to fit.

Thirty-six days hath September, also August but not November. It hath thirty. All the rest have thirty-one… Except Jan., Mar., April, June and October. And then of course, there is February….On second thought, let’s leave the calendar the way it is.

 

 

 

KEEPING ON TIME

Mar 29, 1976  Sense and Nonsense

We once had a friend who collected clocks for a hobby He had clocks of every description in his home. Most of his clocks were not your ordinary straight tick-tocking variety. They did extraordinary things every hour and some of them every half-hour. Birds would pop out and make very un-birdlike but loud noises. Bells would clang, at times incessantly. Little men and little women would leap out of the clockworks announcing the time of day in various audible ways. To visit his house at noon was an experience not unlike having a front row seat at a rock music festival.

I believe that clocks should be seen but not heard. The raucous ring of an alarm clock must be one of the most infuriating sounds known to mankind. I have often envied the man, who upon retirement purchased six shiny new alarm clocks. He set them all to go off at the usual early morning hour on the first day of his retirement. Upon being awakened by the deafening din of all these clocks, he quickly collected them and took them outside. He lined them up and with his rifle proceeded to ruin the six clocks with as many accurately aimed shots. The man calmly hung up his gun, went back to bed and slept the sleep of one who was well satisfied with his life.

One sure way to cultivate insomnia is to have two clocks ticking within earshot in bed at night. I listened to this stereophonic tick-tocking for awhile one night and I discovered one thing. Clocks do not tick the same. One will tick while the other will tock. Just when I was getting used to the crazy rythme, one clock skipped a beat. Before I went completely bananas, I managed to locate one of the clocks and hide it in a faraway corner of the house.

I have had bad luck with watches all my life. My watches lied a lot. I used to spend good money on them, getting them cleaned and adjusted. Still they would tell the wrong time. Maybe it was because I would periodically immerse them in water. I have never owned a water proof watch, although some of them were “water resistant”. A “water resistant” watch compares to the “shrink resistant” label one lady found on a pair of socks in a department store. When she asked the clerk what the label meant, she was told “The socks do shrink, but they don’t want to”. I suppose my watches didn’t want to get wet either.

One time on an automobile trip to Alberta I had occasion to wish we had packed an alarm clock. We checked into a motel in Jasper at about midnight. We decided we had to rise at 5:00 a.m. in order to arrive at our destination on time. The girl in the office had no clocks available and there was no way they would awaken us at that early hour. Both I and my husband were dead tired and I was worried that we would sleep in. Hubby was unconcerned, although noncommital. He went into the bathroom and drank two large glasses of water. “The clock is set” he assured me as we crawled into bed. Sure enough at exactly five o’clock I awakened to the sound of the toilet flushing. I suppose if one experimented with this trick they could awaken at any hour they chose. If they had good reliable kidneys they need never bother with an alarm clock again

AN EXPLODING TURKEY & OTHER CALAMITIES

Jan 16/75  Sense and Nonsense [Nechako Chronicle]

Now that the holiday season is all over I have decided to compile a list of “nots” for next year. This list is composed from various irritating, miserable and downright awful experiences of Christmases past and recent past

First of all do not place any Xmas baking in a green plastic garbage bag unless you use a different coloured bag for the garbage. This can result in an extra special treat for the animals who reside at the village dump.

Secondly, do not forget to buy lots of various sized clear foil bags. According to the handy booklet enclosed with these bags (which I found on Boxing Day) they are great pot savers. You put your vegetables in the smaller bags and place them in a pot of boiling water. When the vegetables are done you transfer the bags into bowls and your pot is still clean.

Thirdly, if you use clear foil around your turkey, be sure to poke holes in it before you roast it. I had a turkey explode on me once and it was a mess. Luckily it was a small turkey. An exploding twenty-seven pound Christmas turkey could be dangerous as well as disastrous.

Fourthly, I have discovered that during the holiday season more woman-hours are spent doing dishes, especially glasses, than any other chore. On about the twentieth of December buy about two hundred plastic foam cups. You can serve anything from Xmas cheer to ice-cream in these. If you have any Scottish or Dutch blood in your veins, do not succumb to the urge to wash and re-use these cups. Even if your guests drank only water from un-lipsticked lips, never allow these cups to be immersed in dishwater. If the Prime Minister and his Cabinet happen to drop by you could condescend to serve them drinks in your good glasses. However, only if they promise (in writing) to reduce unemployment, cut taxes and combat inflation.

Fifthly, if you must send out Xmas cards, do so before the big rush. For the past three years I have made resolutions not to send out cards. However, this involves more strength of character than I can find; besides its fun to receive cards even if it is such a bore addressing and stamping your own. Why can’t we buy cards with the envelopes already stamped? The Post Office people would probably appreciate this too. One year the little post office where we lived had run out of six-cent stamps a week before Christmas. We had to use six one-cent stamps on every envelope. My tongue was so sticky after all that licking that I felt like a frog. Luckily the black fly season was long past.

Sixthly (now where did I put my teeth?) do not send out any plain Christmas cards. There is always a letdown when opening a card and finding it is merely signed by the sender with no message at all other than the printed verse on the inside. This year I vowed not to send out any plain cards. I bought only eight-cent stamps thinking that I would send pictures or letters with every card. As it was I ran out of pictures and developed writer’s cramp halfway through the job. I ended up sending out a bunch of plain cards with sealed envelopes. I hope these people noticed that they at least rated an eight-cent stamp.

There are many other “nots” which I would like to remember for next year. However, if nothing worse happens than having a batch of baking go out to the dump I am sure next year will once again be a darn good Christmas.

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