Rhymes, Rants & Accolades from North Central BC

Archive for February, 2018

NINE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

1978  Sense and Nonsense

The year we broke a long-standing tradition by not staying home for Christmas. We abandoned the turkey and the tree and set forth to Alberta where most of our children and other relatives reside.

If Christmas had fallen at any other time of year but in the dead of winter, we would cheerfully have driven to our destination. As it was, we decided to take advantage of the most available means of public transportation.

Alarm clock bells, alarm clock bells, (tune of Jingle Bells)
We must be on our way!
Oh what sense is it to ride
A Greyhound bus to-day!

Waiting in the snow,
For a crowded Greyhound bus,
Today the bus is slow,
‘Cause it’s the Christmas rush!

Cars on highways slide,
Headlights shining  bright,
What a drag to rise and ride
A Greyhound bus tonight!

We left Prince George almost three hours behind schedule and with somewhat diluted Christmas spirits. Our bus driver soon revealed exactly where his homing instincts lay. He aimed his bus due East, and by combining a talented foot on the accelerator pedal with an almost fanatic reluctance to stop at the scheduled feeding stations, managed to reach Edmonton only 90 minutes late!

We forgave him our hunger pangs, and he endeared himself to us with his parting announcement, “Merry Christmas to you all, and I hope you have better days than this one!”

My daughter is married to a native son in Edmonton. As he is of Ukrainian descent, she has learned to make, pronounce and possibly even spell, such delicacies as Perogies and Kapooskas (probably spelled that wrong!) These delights balanced nicely with the turkey and salads on her Christmas table.

I once tried my hand at making perogies and failed miserably. The potato-cheese mixture escaped during the boiling process, and I ended up with flattened lumps of dough floating in a pot of potato water.

The one-car dayliner which travels between Edmonton and Calgary, is run on a first-come-first-gets-a-seat basis. The extras can either stand or ride their suitcases. I have noticed that they have recently invented the wheel on some suitcases. Why not a retractable backrest for suitcase sitters? This would also afford a degree of comfort when waiting long hours in a standing room only bus depot!

We managed to visit most of our children and other relatives over the Christmas holidays. Here is my version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” shortened to eight days because of time limitations.

Verses 1 – 7 refer to eighth verse.

Verse 8: On the eighth day of Christmas my true love met with me,
Eight aunts and uncles!
Seven sister’s siblings!
Six kissing cousins!
Five adult offspring!
Four grandkids growing!
Three son-in-laws!
Two brand new babies!
And at every house a Christmas turkey!

On the ninth day of Christmas we arrived home. We have wood heat in our house so we were prepared for a chilly homecoming. Thankfully, some friends had lit a fire the day before. They informed us that on that day the thermometer had read 40 below in our living room. While waiting for the wood to burn and give off heat, they had stood in the kitchen warming themselves in the “balmy” air escaping from the open refrigerator!

MOTHER-IN-LAWS ARE GOOD COOKS?

October 18/79  Sense and Nonsense

Mother-in-laws are notoriously good cooks. Their efforts are often hailed as ultimate examples of culinary excellence. Many a young marriage has been rent asunder because of the of the husband’s addiction to his mother’s cooking.

After slaving all day in the kitchen, the remark “it doesn’t taste like Mother’s used to” can cause a young wife to commit murder or at the very least, divorce! One wife had endured that remark after almost every meal. Whether it was fish, beef or chicken, her beloved appeared not to enjoy the meals she served.

She was at her wit’s one evening when her husband’s supper went up in a cloud of smoke. He took one bite of the charred mess and spoke the words that cheered her up considerably. “That’s the way Mother’s used to taste!”

Being a mother-in-law can sometimes be pretty frustrating. It is hard to provide “an example of culinary excellence” all the time. In fact the first time my efforts in the kitchen were applauded by a son-in-law, I almost cried….

We were hungry when we arrived at my daughter and her new husband’s basement apartment. To mine and my husband’s delight, they had defrosted some of the most beautiful steaks I had ever seen. “Maybe your mother can show you the right way to cook a steak,” suggested my son-in-law, not unkindly to his wife.

My daughter apologized, “I don’t have a broiler on my stove, Mom, but there’s one on the stove upstairs you can use. I’ll panfry a few steaks down here to save time.”

I discovered too late that the broiler upstairs did not have the kilowatts to properly cook a steak. The sad-looking, gray masses floated in their pan of juices. I stammered excuses as I presented the badly mistreated meat to my daughter. Her pan fried steaks were cooked perfectly. She and my husband devoured them, while I and my son-in-law tackled the ones I had cooked.

“What did I tell you, Hon.” My son-in-law spoke enthusiastically. “Your mother sure knows how to cook a steak!” Mother-in-laws are notoriously good cooks, but we mother-in-laws know that culinary excellence is merely a matter of taste.

NATIONAL WOMENS YEAR

Mar.13/75 Sense and Nonsense

This year has been designated National Women’s Year by the Government. Millions of dollars are being spent on this worthy cause. Some people would like to convince us that women are equally as good as men. In my opinion this may be an understatement.

The other day I combed the local stores for my very own “Why Not” button. Much to my disappointment, I was unable to find one. I had to settle for a “Happy Face” button instead.

I am wondering why we women get only one year out of 1,975, so far? Who benefits from the other 1,974 years past? The boy scouts got one year I believe. I seem to recall the R.C.M.P. having a year in their honour not long ago. Centennial year was 1967. That still leaves 1,971 years to be accounted for.

I think women deserve more than one year every second millennium! After all, there have always been a lot of women around. Maybe some of us should to go Ottawa and demand a few more years for our very own.

One year I think we should claim is 1492. After all it was Queen Isabella who financed Columbus’ cruise. All he did was discover America and then he didn’t even recognize it when he saw it. He thought it was India. All he was interested in was spices. I’m sure if his wife had been along she would have recognized a good thing when she saw it.

Someone has suggested that wearing a “Why Not” button could be suggestive. At least as far as men are concerned. Some men may not realize the significance of the slogan “Why Not”. They may not know that it stands for high ideals and the cause of uplifting and improving women’s employment opportunities in the rough, tough world of male domination. These men (obviously not tuned in to CBC radio and TV) may think the words “Why Not” mean submission rather than competition. For those women who fear this misinterpretation I suggest wearing a happy face button instead. Besides they are easier to find and harmonize much better with the spring styles.

For those women and men too who must have their “Why Not” buttons, I suggest writing Mr. Trudeau in Ottawa. I am sure he must have plenty in stock. If you wait a few months they may sell at a tremendous discount. If you wait until near the end of the year you may get them for nothing – possibly gift-wrapped at no extra charge. They may make good Christmas gifts for those hard to buy for people on your list.

Your husband or wife may never forgive you but you could throw in a mink coat and/or a sports car as an added extra……

NATIONAL WOMEN’S YEAR

Mar.13/75 Sense and Nonsense

This year has been designated National Women’s Year by the Government. Millions of dollars are being spent on this worthy cause. Some people would like to convince us that women are equally as good as men. In my opinion this may be an understatement.

The other day I combed the local stores for my very own “Why Not” button. Much to my disappointment, I was unable to find one. I had to settle for a “Happy Face” button instead.

I am wondering why we women get only one year out of 1,975, so far? Who benefits from the other 1,974 years past? The boy scouts got one year I believe. I seem to recall the R.C.M.P. having a year in their honour not long ago. Centennial year was 1967. That still leaves 1,971 years to be accounted for.

I think women deserve more than one year every second millennium! After all, there have always been a lot of women around. Maybe some of us should to go Ottawa and demand a few more years for our very own.

One year I think we should claim is 1492. After all it was Queen Isabella who financed Columbus’ cruise. All he did was discover America and then he didn’t even recognize it when he saw it. He thought it was India. All he was interested in was spices. I’m sure if his wife had been along she would have recognized a good thing when she saw it.

Someone has suggested that wearing a “Why Not” button could be suggestive. At least as far as men are concerned. Some men may not realize the significance of the slogan “Why Not”. They may not know that it stands for high ideals and the cause of uplifting and improving women’s employment opportunities in the rough, tough world of male domination. These men (obviously not tuned in to CBC radio and TV) may think the words “Why Not” mean submission rather than competition. For those women who fear this misinterpretation I suggest wearing a happy face button instead. Besides they are easier to find and harmonize much better with the spring styles.

For those women and men too who must have their “Why Not” buttons, I suggest writing Mr. Trudeau in Ottawa. I am sure he must have plenty in stock. If you wait a few months they may sell at a tremendous discount. If you wait until near the end of the year you may get them for nothing – possibly gift-wrapped at no extra charge. They may make good Christmas gifts for those hard to buy for people on your list.

Your husband or wife may never forgive you but you could throw in a mink coat and/or a sports car as an added extra……

VANCOUVER IN MARCH

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!

HOCKEY

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!

BUS DRIVERS (GREYHOUND)

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.

Tag Cloud