Friday, August 17, 2018

Maeverson Park

Why am I posting? It probably just comes down to the fact that I just feel like ranting about something.  I'm blaming it on being smoked in with all the neighbouring forest fires. Our city looks apocalyptic.

We live across the street from a city park. As kids become more and more plugged into electronics and involved in organized sports and scheduled into 'play dates', community parks are being utilized less and less.

Last year our city announced that many of the seldom used parks would have their equipment removed and they'd become empty lots. Most of the parks that were still viable would have their equipment replaced.  Ours was included in the "viable" group.  I'm sure this was due in part to the heavy use it got from the successful Daycare/Preschool that was in a house next door. The daycare has since sold the house and taken over the entire Child Development Centre.

Demolition of the park started a few weeks ago and my 9 and 6 year old grandkidlets and I were quite excited about what the "New Park" would look like.

For all of Maeve's six years she has referred to "Sanderson Park" as "Xanderson Park" because with a brother named Xander, that was only natural sounding to her wee ears and vocal ability.

When demolition began she demonstrated her unique little sense of humour and wit and said to me, "Granny, I hope when they redo the park they name it "Maeverson Park'." I'm a bit biased, but she is a witty little girl. And the park will forevermore be known as Maeverson Park around here.

Well, today around noon in a cloud of heavy smoke from all the neighbouring forest fires, Maeverson Park opened its gates to the public.  While Xander and Maeve weren't here at the time, we happen to have Beatrice and Daphne, ages 4 and 14 months, here for the week.

Off to the park we toddled.  And toddled is the right word to use here.

I've never actually heard the term "Toddler Park' before. But apparently it's a thing.

Begin rant...

What in the actual funk??!!?

Who the heck makes decisions like this? Let's rip out this lovely well used park that has a swinging bridge made of tires, a zip line, swings, twirly tunnel slide and other fun and entertaining items and replace them with a toddler park. A TODDLER PARK??/!!! WTF! Why?

I feel conflicted about bitching here, because I'm truly grateful that the city is investing money in upgrading its parks, but...

I'm trying not to entertain the idea that the decision was based on the fact that there was a daycare next door because, well, it was a private daycare and if the city created a tax-funded park for a private daycare.. well... don't get me started...

Now, on a positive note, it's cute little get-up and it is lime green and bright blue which nicely matches my newly renovated kitchen/living space colour scheme.


The park itself is a good size. The equipment is wee. It would look great in someone's backyard or even a large rec room. But for a city park it qualifies as ridiculous.

It even posted a sign saying it was intended for 2 to 5 year-olds. But a lot of the stuff was too small for our 4-year-old. She looked ridiculous on the tube slide where her head was poking out the top and her feet could be seen at the bottom of the slide. Seriously. The slide is no more than 24 inches long. It's cute. But it's ridiculous.

Even the swings hang on an 8-foot frame. There's one baby swing seat and one regular swing. The regular swing is really high off the ground. This makes it convenient for a parent to push a wee one they've lifted onto the swing, but impossible for a child to get themselves onto without adult assistance. And with the short height of the swing frame and the high height of the swing seat, it makes for a very short chain and thus a less-than-exciting ride for anyone over the age of 5. Understandable, I guess, for a "toddler park." But sorely disappointing for the hundreds of kids over the age of 5 who used to frequent this park, for which the swing is THE ONLY piece of equipment they actually physically fit on in this 'new park'.

The park is certainly big enough that some sort apparatus could have been added so that all children could be included, and the park might become a destination for families with kids of all ages. But as it is, it's a lovely space for the very young, but even our 4-year-old was too large for most of the equipment.

Overall, a big 2-thumbs-down from this Granny to the city of Prince George for the super cute but super useless new park.

***End Rant***

They are pretty straight up honest about who the park is intended for. I just wish they had posted these intentions 2 years ago so the users of the park actually had some input into the production. 
Super cute little 14-month-old enjoys the equipment that her 4-year-old sister is too big for. 

It's a great funky little bench for parents... IF parents of the children of appropriate size were actually able to sit on a bench while their wee ones played on the equipment

It is bloody cute and stylish, even if useless, to most families who used to frequent the park. 

Fabulous for the 14-month old
The 4-year-old had to tuck herself to go down the 24-inch slide.  

I didn't get a great photo of the 4-year-old with her head poking out the top of the slide and her feet hanging out the  bottom. If it wasn't so sad it would be comical. 
Once again, it was lovely for the baby. 

Not so lovely for the 4-year-old. I can't imagine the disappointment my 9 and 6-year-olds will experience when they get to realize their excitement for the "New and Improved" Maeverson Park.  

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Woman's Perspective

Keefers 1974.  

I have to say I just loved the history session on Saturday evening at the Keefers 50 Year Reunion. It was great to get the different perspectives. However, I heard a bit of murmuring that there should have been a woman’s point of view.  

Had I known beforehand that Uncle Red was going to drag me up to the mic to talk about collecting photos, I may just have squeezed in a small speech on behalf of women. But speaking off-the-cuff with no preparation just ain’t in my wheelhouse. (Frankly, I don’t even know what a wheelhouse is, but speaking isn’t in mine) 

Writing, on the other hand, is something I do. And here’s what I would have written that evening, had I taken the time:

My name is Liana and I am the eldest daughter of Ed (you may have known him as Ted) & Jean deBalinhard. I don’t really qualify for giving a “woman’s perspective” of Keefers, since I was only 3 years old when our family arrived in that first group coming from Barkley Valley in 1968. Yeah, yeah, I’ll do the math for you – I’m 53 today :) 

We actually lived in Keefers at three different times and in 6 different houses which included: the Front of the Trading Post, Ed’s Cabin (I think this may be known as Harry Lafferty’s place) The cabin Davey, Chris Adams and my Dad built, which is in the yard where Ted and Elaine live, the main house of the Trading Post, a short time at “Lures” place down by the river, and finally in Brook’s House (aka the ‘red house’) We left for the final time in 1974. I was 9 years old. So I don’t really have a woman’s perspective.  
While many things have changed over the 50 years, enough remains the same that I am flooded with childhood memories anytime I visit. 

I really feel like I had a great childhood where every day was an adventure. 

I remember our first winter in Ed’s cabin, dad had made a sleigh from the hood of an old car and our pony would pull us down the trail along the flume whenever Mom and Dad decided to venture out with 4-snotty nosed toddlers. (Our youngest sister was yet to be born)

We loved playing in the old vehicles that were left parked wherever they had died in years previous to us arriving. The smell of rotten oil and old rubber to this day takes me back to Keefers in my mind.  

One day my brother Ted and I were playing with our pet chicken, Henny Penny, and pretending to give her a haircut with a large butcher knife. Cuz don’t all 4 and 5 year olds play with butcher knives?? Anyway, we literally scared the poor chicken to death. She had a heart attack right there in our hands. We ate her for dinner. 

When we were about 7 and 8, Ted and I were tasked with sending a batch of kittens off to kitty heaven by way of the Fraser River. “Be sure to tie the bag shut after adding a large rock,” we were instructed. And off we went to the river packing 3 kittens and a gunny sack. 

We somehow neglected to heed the “tie the bag shut” portion of the instructions. The burlap bag hit the water and the rock took it to the bottom of the river. The kitties floated to the top. I like to think they managed to make it to shore and some kind soul downstream gave them a good life. 

These things were all just a part of our lives. I honestly had no idea that the rest of the world didn’t live like this, without electricity, phones or running water. No idea that .22 rifles weren’t toys. No idea that most people got their chickens from a grocery store, they didn’t select one from the coop and chop its head off. No idea that other 6 year olds didn’t light the wood stove in the morning using kerosene as fire starter. 

Visiting Keefers fills my head with amazing childhood memories. But being there as an adult causes me to imagine the situation through a mama’s heart. And Oh.Em.Gee…

At first glance at our lifestyle one would think the women were meek, weak, submissive and even oppressed. And certainly religious legalism played into that, however, I have come to realize that my mother, and the other women, were anything but weak. 

I cannot even begin to imagine the hours of back breaking labour it took just to cook and clean for a large family using wood heat, even if it was 30 degrees. Hauling water. Pooping in outhouses that were NOTHING like Elaine’s. Cloth diapering babies. Canning everything because there was no refrigeration. That was after you planted, watered and weeded it for months. And all while trying to homeschool your large brood, hoping they’d turn out smart enough to forge out a better life for themselves. 

Yes, the women were anything but weak. 

I can totally envision myself in my mother’s position, handing the kids a .22 rifle and saying, “Here, go play in the Fraser River.” 

Sunday, July 1, 2018


If you've followed my sporadic 11-year blogging venture or friended me on Facebook, you probably know I hate politics. And as a general rule I refuse to participate in debates and mudslinging and even gentle banter in regards to such.

But sometimes political scenes arise and take over social media. Frequently I just have to shake my head.  Often I unfollow people but keep them as friends.  Occasionally I actually resort to un-friending people.

But I usually remain silent.

And then every once in a while I feel compelled to comment. But that comment becomes longer than a status update. And kind of morphs into a blog. A blog that resembles folklore, legend, a parable, fiction. Call it what you will...


There once was a big family who loved each other and lived peaceably amongst their neighbours.

One day they heard very loud barking coming from the yard of their neighbour across the back fence. The family began to dispute among themselves what ferocious breed of dog it sounded like.

They yelled, argued, fought and said hurtful things to each other (the very people they loved the most) while they tried to determine just how dangerous this dog was. They had violently differing opinions on whether they felt the neighbours were protecting, versus endangering, their own young children by owning such a ferocious sounding dog.

They spent many hours in their backyard that day damaging their own family relationships, while trying to peer through the neighbour's fence to determine the breed of dog and safety of the neighbour's children. And the sad truth was, the reality of neither factors would be changed at all, even if it were possible to beat each other into a consensus.

Later that day they went back inside their house to realize that while they had been so distracted by the rightness and wrongness of their neighbour's decisions to protect their own family, they had left their own front door open and someone came in and robbed them blind.


Don't be so distracted by things you have no control over, and zero influence on, that you ruin your own relationships with people you love, and turn a blind eye to what's happening to your own property. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Something's Not Right Here

Spoiler Alert: The temperature is in the 30's and I just spent the last two hours cleaning cat sh!t out of my sand box. I'm tired and grouchy.

I'm sure there are responsible cat owners everywhere. Even in my own neighbourhood. But not in my house.

We are not pet owners because we pre-know that we just aren't the responsible pet owner type. I don't like sh!t. Not the look, the smell, the feel of picking it up... nothing about it. But with pets comes sh!t.      

Don't get me wrong, I think cats are the cutest little shedding sh!tting fur balls ever.  All of my children live with cats; I see the joy they can bring.  And when we lived on acreage with mice, I also had a cat. A spayed one with an indoor litter box and vast acreage outdoors to sh!t in without filling the neighbour's flowerbeds and children's sandboxes.

I know it's only natural and I really don't have an answer for cat owners on how to keep your cat sh!t contained to your own yard. But surely if you are a city dweller your cat can be an indoor cat or you could make it some sort of outdoor enclosure if it really must bird watch and catch butterflies. Or keep it on a leash. At the very least, buy it it's own sandbox to be kept in your own backyard so the poor creature doesn't have to wander about weaving traffic looking for someone who does indeed have a sandbox. A sandbox intended for children to play in.

As I alluded to, I have just spent 2 hours, on the hottest day of the year, raking, re-raking, and then fine-tooth combing with my gloved hands, ridiculous amounts of cat sh!it out of my sandbox. I then liberally dusted the entire area with hot tub chlorine and proceeded to wash the sand. Yes, that's right. I washed dirt.

Oh, I partially blame myself. A couple of years ago I bought fresh sand for the 3' x 12' strip along the back of the house that sits under the cover of the fabulous roof my hubby built over our back deck.  Yes. I BOUGHT sand. Even though we live in a neighbourhood built on a sandhill. Well, it's more like an anthill, but it's comprised of sand.

The sandbox had been pooped in too many times so I replaced it with lovely grainy sand I purchased at Superstore on clearance-clearance at the end of the season.

For the first couple of winters I was faithful to cover it up with landscape fabric, knowing full-well that a sandbox with a roof over it will not get the protection of 3 feet of snow to save it from sh!tting cats. I think I was too focussed on going to Maui last October to remember to winterize the sand. Never again!

So while I am partly angry at myself, I can't help but take on a bit of victim mentality here. I am the victim here. It's my sand. In my own yard. I responsibly don't own pets because I know I'm not responsible.  Yet here I am having to clean sh!t and wash dirt in stifling heat while I try to think of creative ways to protect myself from future abuse.  Something's not right here.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Verdict is In...

I’m sure you’ve seen the posts on social media this year about a recipe claiming to be an effective mosquito repellant that you spray around the yard and it will ward off the pesky buggers for 80-90 days.
I’m a skeptic by nature, so I didn’t immediately jump on board – partially because for years I’ve been taking 100mg of vitamin B1 daily when I’m going to spend time at the cabin or in other infested areas. And for me, it really works. I rarely get bitten by mosquitoes. However, they still drive me crazy when they are buzzing around the cabin in the night, so I thought I’d give this 90-day remedy a try. (90 days is pretty much the entire summer here in the north.) 

I was especially willing to try it after I read comments from people who heard it on Paul Harvey decades ago and claim they’ve been doing it ever since. If you are too young to immediately know who Paul Harvey is, google “The Rest of the Story” and you’ll see why he sets the standard for news stories that aren’t “Fake News.” 

So I headed to the lake last week after gathering all the supplies: A spray bottle, 3 cups of Epsom salts, 1 litre of cheap blue mouthwash and 3 cans of stale beer. I’m not sure what constitutes “stale” beer, but I opened it and let it sit in a jug for 2 days. 

It took me a couple of days to figure out what the smell reminded me of. I actually really liked it – it was a memory smell for me, and it took me back to my childhood bathroom. I was thinking maybe it smelled of the Poli-dent that my Mama used to clean her removable teeth. But I think it actually smells like a blue powdered toilet bowl cleaner we used in my youth. I can totally picture it in its shaker can, but I can’t recall the name of it. But that’s irrelevant. The point is, this alleged magical compound smells pretty darn good despite its contents. 

I sprayed all around the cabin property, concentrating around the cabin door, windows and the deck. I soaked down our chairs by the fire pit and showered the trees, planters (apparently it’s not harmful to plants) and the picnic table.

We didn’t spend the night but we sat lakeside for a few hours. We really didn’t see any bugs at all. But it was pretty windy, and that usually keeps the bugs at bay, so my skeptic self gave credit to the wind and my hopeful self resisted the urge to shout far and wide the merits of my new found use for beer.

We left town for a few days and it was about a week later when we returned to the cabin for the real test. 

I wasn’t expecting to head out to the lake quite as soon as we did, and in my haste to get ready, I forgot to take my vitamin B. But, in the back of my mind, I was thinking, “Ahh well, with my magical Paul Harvey solution I may never have to pee fluorescent yellow again.” (This is a side effect of taking 100mg of vitamin B) 

It had rained a bit while we were away and I still had ½ a spray bottle of magic, so I gave the backs and bottoms of our chairs another sprinkling as added protection. 

We did some puttering around, thinned out some dead bushes and other assorted cabin-life tasks before pouring a glass of wine to sit by the fire and gaze out at the lake and bask in the blessings of our peaceful corner of paradise. 

And suddenly it was as if a helicopter was taking off from our site, with an almost deafening sound of buzzing and the air swirling violently, due both to flying insect activity and our arms flailing around in attempt to swat away the swarms of mosquitoes, no-see-ums and fish flies. 

I have.never.seen so many bugs at the lake in the six years we have had the cabin. Seriously. 

It was a beautiful windless evening, and yet by 8:30 we were hunkered down in the cabin inhaling 2 burning mosquito coils and watching the sunset through the window. 

So yeah, the verdict is in. 

I’ll be going home to freshen my breath, fill my bathtub and drink the last 3 cans of beer from the 6-pack, while I soak in Epsom salts to try get some relief from these mosquito bites, and contemplate how to get rid of the layer of white salty residue that now graces everything I own at the cabin. 

And now you know the rest of the story.  


Friday, March 23, 2018

Words. The most powerful source known to humanity.

I love words. I love to write them. I love to know their meanings. I love to know their origins. But speaking them - not so much.  You can't edit and delete spoken words. You can't eat them and take them back. 

Tomorrow my beautiful little five-year-old turns six.

On one hand I can hardly remember life without my little Maeve Liliana, on the other hand it seems only weeks ago I played the role of midwife as her mother delivered her at home on the floor in the back hall.

And tomorrow her mom will read her the story of her birth (Granny Has a Midwife Crisis)  as she does each year on her birthday.

Her party is tomorrow and Mommy has been sick most of the week so I went over there tonight to help in whatever way I could.  This included giving the birthday girl a bath, braiding her hair and doing her nails.

During her bath our conversation included her telling me (for the umpteenth time and as if I didn't know the story) about the sad day that her her mom's mom, Grandma Alma, passed away from a heart attack. (which was about six years before her birth)

"Granny, if she was still alive, she would spoil me rotten. Well... not rotten as in rotten. She would just spoil me with love and toys."

"Yes, Maevey. She would spoil you. And even though you can't see her, she knows all about you and she is so very proud of you. So proud that her only granddaughter is so kind, and beautiful and smart. And she'd so pleased that you are such a friendly loving little girl."

"I'm a big girl, Granny."

"Yes, Maevey, yes you are."

"And Mommy's sister, Aunty Angela would also spoil me with toys if she didn't pass away too. And she would totally love to come to my birthday tomorrow."

"Oh yes, Maeve. Aunty Ang would be here for your birthday if she could. It would be one of her favourite days of the year."

Granny's heart simultaneously breaks and bursts with pride for her granddaughter who has always seemed wise beyond her years.

After her bath, as I was doing her hair, mommy came in the room and said, "Thank you so much, Granny, for coming over. I really didn't have the energy to help her bath and do her hair tonight."

I continued braiding Maeve's hair as I responded, more to her than to Mommy, "Oh, I was totally excited to come spend the last day with my favourite five year old."

The room falls silent. Miss Maevey's eyes filled with tears. "Granny, is this really the last time you are ever going to see me?"! "No! No! Maevey Mouse, it's just the last time I will see you as a five year old. Tomorrow you will be my favourite six year old!"

Relief washes over her face and I am stabbed with the reality of the power and force simple spoken words carry.

No matter the intended meaning, or the casualness with which we speak, we really have no idea how forcefully our words are capable of affecting those around us. Especially our wee ones.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

May I interest you in a beaver butt breakfast bun?

I'm a carnivore. I have no problem salivating over a steak or mowing (this sounds like "mau, as in "Maui" ing, not mow, as in cutting-the-grass, ing.) down on chicken parts or pig ribs. Meat is a big part of our diet.

However, there are certain animal consumption scenarios I am not comfortable with: I wouldn't eat a cat. You probably couldn't pay me enough to consume moose liver. And you won't find me dining on sheep's eyeballs anytime soon. (These are all things some people across our world will joyfully consume.) 

But what about the secretions from beaver anal glands? Now doesn't that sound like an excursion in yumminess? 

When it comes to eating candy, I always savour 'red' flavours - raspberry, strawberry, cherry and even watermelon. And what about vanilla? Mmmm yum. Vanilla flavoured anything, even scented items that aren't actually eaten are simply divine. Or are they? 

Let's digress for a second here...

Do you ever buy blueberry muffins or bagels? 

I don't know the reasoning here - be it cost, preservability, taste or whatever-  but about 99% of the time, if you actually read the labelling, it will say "simulated blueberry flavour" or something like that. 
 That's because those 'chunks of blueberry goodness' aren't actually blueberries. Or anything in the fruit and vegetable world actually. They are coloured chunks of beaver anal gland secretions. Yup. read that again. Congealed beaver anal gland secretions. 

My apologies if you thought you were vegan, yet eat anything store-bought that is blueberry, raspberry or vanilla flavoured. Ingredient listings will say "natural flavours." And truly, the anal glands of beavers are pretty much as natural as you can get. But vegan they are not. 

You can google or Snopes this if you think this is just too far fetched to be real. 

Castoreum can be defined as the yellowish brown  unctuous slime substance with a strong, penetrating odour which beavers secrete from castor sacs located in skin cavities between the pelvis and the base of the tail, and spray when scent marking their territory. (The location of the beaver's castor sacs means that castoreum also often includes a mixture of anal gland secretions an urine as well.)

Castoreum is so favourably fragrant, that we've been using it to flavour ice cream, gum, pudding, candy and brownies - and basically anything that could use vanilla, raspberry, blueberry, or strawberry substitute, for nearly a century. 

Gag if you must. But you cannot deny eating this in your lifetime.

My obvious first question is ... who the hell discovered this? Seriously??!! Who was the first person to think, "Let's eat this beaver's anal glands to see if we can market it as candy, pudding and simulated vegan flavouring in muffins and bagels."? 

Bagel anyone? 

Maeverson Park

Why am I posting? It probably just comes down to the fact that I just feel like ranting about something.  I'm blaming it on being smoked...