Cakewalk Chronicles – April brought a mixed bag of news

Esther Darlington MacDonald's monthly column of life in the rural Interior.

Green Party candidate John Kidder (foreground) at the Art Show opening last week.

It has been a momentous month

It’s hard to remain with topics within the parochial niche for a month like this one. With young American Chechnyan lads making bombs with pressure cookers seeking to maim and kill and to choose one of America’s most celebrated events, the Boston Marathon. “I do not understand them”, the older brother said, speaking of Americans whom he had been socially engaged with for years. And then  the death and state funeral for former PM Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the grocer’s daughter whose economic policies brought widespread unemployment, deregulation of financial institutions, the war in the Falklands, and the fracture of unions. And the death in old age of comedic genius Jonathan Winters, and the death of our own lyrical songbird, Rita MacNeil, whose performance with the miners’ choir in Kamloops some years back left Sherman and I with tears in our eyes. Yes, it has been a month full of tragedy, pathos and good memories.

The politics in our place

Ashcroft’s Jackie Tegart has focused her sight on a seat in the Provincial government as MLA again.  More power to her.

Well known in the area as a chair of the school board for a number of years, she has served on council in Ashcroft twice I believe. Tried for the Mayor’s seat and lost to Andy Anderson.

Some years back, Jackie ran for Liberal candidacy with John Ranta and Jim Rabbit. She presented her platform well. Jackie is an excellent communicator. But Jim Rabbit took the candidacy. Jim, from Merritt, had been an MLA for the Socred party and had served as a caucus member in Victoria as well. He, too, is an excellent communicator.

Jackie admits that the Provincial political scene will be a whole new ball of wax for her. I guess the learning curve began the day she became a Liberal candidate. Personally, I like to see women running for office in any sphere, provincial or municipal. Good luck to her.

I attended the fundraising dinner at the Central Cafe for Harry Lali. I’ve known Harry for 25 years, – and I was in Merritt when he was elected to be the MLA over veteran Don Olds.

Harry was endorsed by Mike Harcourt then. Anyway, Harry’s career in office has served his constituents well. He’s held Ministries in Victoria and been a member of caucus.

Harry’s talk at the Central, which had a fuller than full house, stayed on the issues, hospital closures, school closures, education budget cutbacks, the partial privatization of Hydro and the loss of revenue of that, the slack to be taken up by the taxpayers.

And I for one appreciated Harry not mentioning the usual, corruption that has plagued the Liberals over the last 12 years. No muckraking. Just straightforward stuff.

And I reminded Harry of our first encounter with the young whipper-snapper who asked to join our table at the Capri Hotel in Kelowna.  Anita Moore and I had just been elected as councillors, as Harry had for Merritt, and the three of us were attending the Newly Elected officials seminars. “You looked about 19,” I told him the other day.  He laughed. “I was 19,” he replied.

He’ll be a hard man to beat. He’s been everywhere in the constituency. Even the cookie and cake debacle with Interior Health, remember? A compromise was the result. We are now wearing hair nets.

It was a good exercise in Democracy

That Wellness brand protest last year. Remember it? Petitions in shops and cafes. I heard several vigorous protests personally with calls and visits. The protest seems to have made the supporters of the brand that much more supportive. One chap who’d been protesting the brand, later became a supporter. The, “if you can’t beat them, join them” brigade.

Okay. Nothing is written in stone, (except the Ten Commandments). Both camps exerted a lot of time and energy on this issue. That was all well and good.

But one thing I have learned (to my dismay and disappointment) over the years is, you can’t change or beat a “fait accompli”. That is, a decision that has already been made by the powers that be and proceeded with, accordingly.

I am reminded of our protest of the garbage landfill in Cache Creek, for example. Mike Harcourt, then Leader of the Opposition was meeting with then Chief Manny Jules in Kamloops, and I asked to see Mike at that time and permission was granted. Jules was very gracious about me barging in to their discussion.

Mike said, “Esther, it is a fait accompli. We can do nothing to stop it. All we can do is monitor and keep our eyes on it.” I took the message back to the anti-landfillers, and you know what happened? They shot the messenger. “I can’t accept that,” one person told me. Well, in the end, we all had to accept it.

Our Tanner is famous

Yes, our little dear’s picture is featured on page 15 of the Knowledge Network Guide for May and June.  Rudy Buttignol, CEO of Knowlege, invited members to send in pics of their pets, and I did so and was duly informed that it had been accepted for the Guide. Tanner in a non characteristic pose (of tranquillity).

He’s an ADD dog. Don’t know where he got that from, do you?

Great grandchildren

My daughter Nadine, who lives on Maui with husband Jon, just sent me the latest album of my latest great grandchild, a son, born to my grandaughter, Nalani. A beautiful baby! His big sister, Lauren Marie,  aged 3, holds her baby brother in her arms. I now have four great grandchildren, and too many grandchildren to count. I was never good at numbers.

The Plant swap in Ashcroft

Took place on Sunday, the 21st, and I’ve got a wonderful array of plants to fill in the spaces arranged by Albert Drinkwater in the frontage at #46 Mesa Vista Court. People are so kind. Took pity on this crippled old lady who hobbled her way down to the parking lot at Heritage Park and carried the trays back to my car for me.

Can hardly wait for a day kind enough to let me put these hardy perennials into the nice soil.

The Ashcroft Annual Art Show

It was a grand turnout for the Opening last Friday and I went early this year and found just the right painting in watercolor by Sharon Rennie, titled, Waiting. A small, two figure study that has all the mood of the title. And the price was right.

Three of our politicos were there: John Kidder, handsome and looking suitably Green, and Jackie Tegart, and Harry Lali. And they mingled with the crowd.

And the table of finger food was very tempting. But wisely, I ate before I arrived.

I was impressed by two portraits by a former long ago pupil of one of my Art classes in Williams Lake, Margot Landells. So simple in form, and the color, solid, and just right in tone and depth. Every years, the quality of the work exhibited gets better and better.

Winnipeg Rye bread

What, truly, is a loaf of Winnipeg rye bread? I mean, we have several rye loafs purporting to be “Winnipeg style” rye. But are they?

I think I can say (without bias, of course) that the best and only true loaf of Winnipeg rye was baked by Gunn’s Bakery on Selkirk Avenue in North Winnipeg. It has a tender golden crust that is not soft, and a sour rather spongy centre. It is not sweet.

Once upon a time in Safety Mart, there were two male bakers and we became friends. Over wine one evening, I told them that I did not think that B.C. made a good rye loaf. Intrigued, they asked what a Winnipeg rye was like in texture and taste and I told them.

Some time later, these two fellows left Ashcroft and I was told they were employed by McGavin’s Bakery. And, not long after that, McGavin’s was producing “Winnipeg style rye”. It has become a popular loaf. I buy it all the time. It is not a bad replica.

But I can tell you, it doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing.

About Survival

Two good books in Ashcroft Library about survival. Fantastic women who did fantastic things.

A Brit named Josephine Baker (no relation to the black musician), who became Winston Churchill’s spy in France, and gave he and his military priceless information about the conditions of the military and the social fabric of the towns, etc., inside inside France. The other rather extraordinary woman came from Nova Scotia.

A Canadian from Wolfville, a socialite, married a Dutch man millionaire. They sheltered airmen who had been bombed out of the sky. Eventually, both were jailed. Mona Parsons had a military father, and a stage career in New York, before her marriage. Mona was awarded with several medals in appreciation for her work in the war. She lived, despite four years in a Nazi jail, to old age and died in Wolfville. Baker also lived a long life, mostly in France.

Esther Darlington MacDonald

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