Cakewalk Chronicles – Potting sheds and Winter’s wonder

Esther Darlington MacDonald's monthly meanderings of living in a small interior town.

The play’s the thing

Or so it’s said. Rehearsals for A Midsummer Night’s Mid Term are in full throttle. It’s been a very interesting experience, and I feel privileged to watch our director, Mavourneen Varcoe Ryan, at work. She is everywhere.  Outside and inside every character and seeing the stage from every angle.

The performances are Thursday, Nov. 15, Friday the 16th, and two performances on Sat., Nov. 17, one a matinee and the other in the evening.

Production meetings plan for set design, props, backdrops, costuming. It is amazing to see so much energy, mental and physical being contributed. I attended a production meeting quite by accident and I’m glad I did. The collaborative energy, the exchange of ideas is spontaneous and impressive. The cast is large. Twenty-five, I believe. That alone would be a challenge for the director and producer. Any play is an ambitious undertaking. To have so much talent available in one small area like ours is rather remarkable. Wouldn’t you say?

One person from Kelowna now living in Ashcroft told me she had seen a play in Kelowna and didn’t think it half so good as Swamp Pirate Zombies played here.

Potting sheds ‘n stuff

When the world seems to be in turmoil in specific areas of the Middle East,  where turmoil seems as on-going and relentless as the wars between city states in the Middle Ages, it is undoubtedly frivolous to speak of potting sheds.  But I venture into the frivolous in sheer retaliation to the world “out there”. I have wanted a potting shed for years. And finally achieved my heart’s desire. Dave has made a roomy windowless shed that fits neatly into the front corner of our home. Shelves bear the pots, and there are nails to hang the rakes, shovels, and other garden tools on. The yard has been cleared of garden detritis. We are more or less ready for winter.

The first snow hung over the mountains and high brown hills above Ashcroft and Cache Creek. The carpet of white accentuated the contours of mountain and mesas. The stuff that painters paint. It all came to pass above the valleys this week, while the valleys were drenched with much needed rain.

It is almost Hallowe’en. Pumpkins abound. At Desert Hills Ranch, there is a veritable symphony of pumpkins arrayed around the produce stand. And the spooks are alive and well in the haunted barn. What a great sight met our eyes in the nursery this year, with gourds and corn stalks and pumpkins and all the colors of autumn. A visit to the ranch is a must. You will never see so much color and design so skillfully put together indoors. Soon the goblins and witches will be upon us ringing doorbells and knocking knocking knocking.  What a fun time is Hallowe’en!

Gold Country brochure to feature artists

Gold Country is producing a brochure featuring the work of area artists. I was delighted to learn that three of my paintings will be in the new publication.  Gold Country has been producing some very high calibre brochures. I was impressed with them when I volunteered at the Information stop in downtown Ashcroft earlier this year.

The professionalism is first rate. Again, some very fine production skills are at work here. Watch for the brochures when they emerge next year. My new work will be featured at the Sidewalk Gallery on Railway St. in April. I’m working on abstract landscapes. Kind of prehistory of this incredibly unique area of gorges, gaps, mesas and mountains. This areas geographical history was a series of cataclysmic explosions. We can’t imagine the forces that created what we see around us today.

About food

Some time back I wrote about the food that is being served at Long Term Care facility. I noted that the food is being brought by van from Vernon, reheated (steamed) in the Long Term Care area. I had heard complaints about the quality of the food, and questions about the steaming which must surely eradicate any vestige of vitamin content that the food might have originally contained.

I have been informed that I was wrong when I mentioned that the kitchen in the Health Care Unit has been closed. Apparently, it has not been closed. It has “always” been functioning. One wonders then, why food is still coming from Vernon?. Apparently, soup and such items as lasagna are considered “labor intensive” by Interior Health. One is given to question how soup, so easily made in a slow cooker could be considered labor intensive? You chop some vegetables, pour in a can or two of broth, and let it cook for several hours on low heat. I do it all the time. Because it’s so easy. Only takes a few minutes. And voila!

I was also informed that there are residents in Long Term that cannot eat whole food and must eat pureed. And that for some, food must be cut up in small pieces. I am quite aware of the latter as I do it all the time for Sherman who has partial paralysis in his throat. On the other hand, I am told barbecues are held fairly regularly and there is a monthly pub night in Long Term, where beer and wine are served. So, I hope I have clarified somewhat about food in Long Term Care. But I still wonder about food in transit and the steaming that goes with it. Of necessity. I suppose.

Technology, bless its complicated heart

I recently switched to Telus. It has become another portion of the learning curve that has been somewhat steep for this Octogenarian.

Kids for the last couple of generations have been raised on cyber tech. My twenty-ish grandchildren have mastered the medium and do incredible graphic art with it. A shame, they say, they do not live closer to grandma, so that they can help her over the cobbled slippery slopes.

They play chess too. And can check mate me in the time it takes to poach a couple of eggs. I recall my son George Petel, teaching him to play chess. He mastered it in quick time and was soon trouncing both Ross and I – to the point that we refused to play with him again. Our egos quite shaken by this 9 year old. George also mastered the Rubik’s cube in quick time.  Do you recall those devilish things? He is now a practicing civil lawyer in Calgary, negotiating mergers in the oil and gas industry and such. Travels the world.

We have a number of kids in the Play who are able to memorize their lines and act them out very capably. So, I say to those oldsters who worry about how the world will be governed by these young people who do not, many of them, seem capable of getting out of bed in time for school, – stop worrying. They know more about the world, especially the technology and the pyrotechnics of life than we do.

Power outages

We suffered three power outages in Mesa Vista court recently. Two in one day. You don’t realize how dependent you are on hydro until you don’t have it. Out came the candles. But where were the matches? My neighbor worried about heating the baby forumla. What to eat for supper? Turns out. Peanut butter sandwiches. Chips from the bag. UGH.

The fault was finally discovered. A loose wire or something in the area around the former recreation centre. Finally, the soothing hum of the fridge, and the furnace kicking in, and the blink blink of the stove clock unblinked. But $7 worth of cod fillet had to be garbaged. Five hours or more without hydro brought us right back to the early 20th century. Not a place I want to live in. But am happy enough to write about.

Mining our history

It’s time for us to consider this kind of mining. History is big business. In fact, in many areas, it is the biggest part of the economy. It’s not a moldy oldie tiresome. It’s viable and promising option.

History and Art have long been used by political figures to promote their causes. In much of Europe, history is what attracts visitors by the millions. After the second world war, for example, whole sections of cities had to be rebuilt. Poland’s Warsaw was literally gutted by the German armies. But you’d never know it today. Buildings were rebuilt as they had been before the war. London is another example. You can’t go anywhere in London without being aware of history. Architecturally, and in its museums. Buildings are continually being restored, as they looked before the war.

We in the Cariboo have a uniquely colorful history which tourists all over the world come to get a glimpse and feel of. I was co-ordinator of history at Historical Hat Creek Ranch for three years in the 1990’s. I can assure you that bus loads of tourists from Britain and Germany, France and Switzerland and Spain were fascinated by the stage coach, horse drawn transportation era.  Wanted to know all about it. Couldn’t get enough of it.

And here’s little old Ashcroft sitting on its little old gold mine of history. My question is, – can’t we do more to promote what we have?

The movie industry has discovered Ashcroft. Many movies have been made in and around Ashcroft and area. Stars such as Goldie Hawn, Jennifer Lopez, Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, Charlie Sheen, to name just a few, have spent a good deal of time here filming.

Why aren’t we advertising this? Put up signs on the highway calling Ashcroft the “Movie Capital of the Cariboo”?

Time for us to consider a whole new approach. What say you? (After the style of William Shakespeare).

Esther Darlington MacDonald