Myopic and Astigmatic Observations: political & social commentary

My granddaughter Jennel just posted a spiel on Facebook that at one o’clock in the morning, appeals to me to greatly. Thanks Jennel, for letting me put this on my blog. I WANT THE WHOLE WORLD TO READ THIS!!!!

Oh right, you didn’t give me permission to put this on my blog…. But I know you will. You have the same need I have to communicate what’s important. And interesting. As well as having a whole lot of talent to put your thoughts out in easily digestible language.

From Jennel Harder:

“Over a year ago through the wonders of social media and the cross connected world that we all share, I made a friend.

Our opening conversations were random, sometimes ridiculous but every so often spotted with straight up stark honest questions, which followed by answers regarding our different worlds, culture and beliefs.

He’d ask questions like explaining different slangs in English and everyone’s need to use the F-word every second word (try to translate that) and I’d counter with “do you really poop like that, sitting?!?!??” I’d cry about the struggle with my kids and he’d give me perspective of food, shelter, clothing, education and health of my kids. We’d talk about politics and history, most of which I learned along the way. In any case it was an education in life matters.

It wasn’t long before we turned to the more meaty matters of this world. It couldn’t be avoided after the Paris and San Bernardino Bombings. We would discuss the heart of the world and how sadness plagued mankind. I sat on my comfy warm couch in my safe and non violent country, and he in his base, or tank or resting while on a mission.

There wasn’t a subject or topic that we didn’t discuss. The willingness to step outside our comfort zones and debate the matters of this world, albeit mixed with his wonderment of my absurd personality and grotesquely underestimated sense of humour, followed with times of shock at my bluntness and flat out hyped opinionated flare for drama. I’m sure there have been a few eye rolls.

Most times the conversations were calm and in genuine friendship and then there were times where my pride and indignant pestering poked at the heavy subjects of our cultural differences and fear based prejudices which tested his ever calm response. Yet he persevered and with such tact and dignity.

So why am I writing about him?

Well, he’s taught me a valuable lesson. We are all created equal. We are all created in the image of God and all seek a desire to know and be known. We all have these dark recesses within our heart that define who we’re are. Do we lay claim to them and tuck them away secretly and hide in shame only to have fear shape our world? Or do we ask questions? Do we get to know another’s heart journey only to grow in our own.

If you want to know why you believe something or why you carry foundational truths, engage in friendly conversations with another whose world is juxtaposed to yours. Challenge yourself and get to know how to have those conversations.
Too many people shape their world within the confines of a fear. God is so much bigger than anything in this world, there’s no reason for fear.
Get to know those around you. Be silent and listen. Get to know the depth of yourself by standing up for your truths in conversation but staying soft in love for others.

Firstly, If prayer is a part of your life, I ask that you would pray for my friend. Without going into detail, his life makes our life seem elementary. Otherwise, if prayer is not in your daily routine, keep him in your thoughts.
Secondly, have those conversations with others and gain understanding. Life is much more abundant than when we stand stagnant and unchallenged in our own little world.

Lastly. Stay true to the truths that which define you but do so in gentleness.

You might just make a friend.”


CALL ME OBSESSIVE…. I found the following letter I wrote back in 1980s.

Dear Editor,

For many years the suggestion that my son’s marijuana use contributed to his schizophrenia lurked within the far dark corners of my mind. But the smart people I queried continued to pooh-pooh this possibility until I became convinced of the innocence of the weed in regards to his illness.

In the 1980s I feverishly consumed references about marijuana from old books such as “Sensual Drugs” written by Hardin and Helen Jones, professors at the University of California, who considered its usage to be much more dangerous to the human body and mind than was previously thought. According to the authors every hundred years or so statistics come up with figures linking pot use with brain disorders, etc. The furore ((if any develops at all) soon dies down and users complacently go back to inhaling and exhaling the fumes of their favourite smoke.

In 1894 a commission sponsored by the Indian government came up with a report that “although hemp users were only about 6% of the population, 18 % of [them] became mental patients.” The report concluded that “damage to lungs, brain and liver; suppressed semen production; intestinal disturbances and general debilitation of health from cannabis use is now being substantiated scientifically ….”

Well it’s been more than a hundred years since that report was published but now The Reader’s Digest has come with the latest information linking marijuana use with schizophrenia. In the April 2004 issue there is an article worth reading entitled “Marijuana’s Loss of Innocence” by Gerlof Leistra and Simon Rozendaal. The author’s (Dutch, I think?) say there is definite link between pot use and schizophrenia.

My own personal opinion is that the big problem occurs when the user decides to abandon his habit – cold turkey- which is what my son did after inhaling steadily for about 6 months. According to the book Sensual Drugs (Appendix -page 306) accumulated THC levels are stored in the fatty tissues of the body where it’s held “more tenaciously in the brain tissue. It’s elimination then depends on removing the THC residues from the body as a whole – a matter of many months abstinence for humans.”

I’m wondering if the shock of a sudden withdrawal from the drug, after only six months of heavy use may have resulted in chronically affecting the normal functioning of my son’s brain?

It’s worth a thought before taking that your first drag of happy smoke and before butting out your last. Tapering off might just be the better way to go than quitting cold turkey.

Sincerely, Doris Ray

The following Letter to the Editor was in today’s [Sept.23,2016] Prince George Citizen. It has been a mystery for 25 years about what happened to the Jack family.

Prince George Citizen
September 22, 2016 10:04 PM

How can an entire family go missing? On Aug. 1, 1989, the Jack family, Ronald and Doreen, along with their two children, Ryan and Russell, went missing from Prince George.
The Jacks were a young aboriginal family struggling to get ahead and provide for their two young sons. When a gentlemen in a local bar promised both Ronald and Doreen work in a logging camp and assured them there would be daycare to provide for their two young sons, the Jacks understandably jumped at the opportunity. Ron excitedly phoned his mother to tell her the good news. They were leaving that night.
Sadly that is the last time that she ever talked to her son.
Where are the Jacks? Questions have abounded! Who was this man and what logging camp was this? Where was this camp situated? Why did they have to leave that very night? And how can an entire family go missing for 25 years and no one have any information on what happened to them?
Interestingly, on Jan. 28, 1996, a phone call came in to the local police detachment, stating that the Jack family were buried on a ranch.
The voice was extremely muffled, so much so, that the name of the ranch was not apparent. Specialists were called in to try and clean up the phone message, with the hopes that the name would be revealed. This was not to be.
They were unable to discern the name of the ranch mentioned. Again, the story faded from the news.
Many theories have been discussed.
Was the man who promised a logging camp, instead taking them to a drug operation? Did something go so wrong that these people believed their only option was to murder this family? What happened to the Jack family’s vehicle?
This happened in 1989, long before the missing and murdered aboriginal women, long before the Truth and Reconciliation Movement and long before the most recent movement for aboriginal entitlement. How important was a young, impoverished aboriginal family in 1989? Did the police really do everything they could to find this family?
I wonder how differently this investigation would be carried out today.
We cannot forget the Jack family – Ronald, his wife, Doreen, and their two young sons, Ryan and Russell.
Someone, somewhere knows something. Someone cared enough to make that phone call in 1996.
Hopefully one day, the full story will be revealed and the Jack family will be able to rest in peace.
Hopefully justice will be served.
Darleen O’Neill
Prince George

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

[Written after reading an interview in Prince George Citizen. P. 8. April 28th, 2014]

Post traumatic stress disorder,
A highly-stigmatized condition,
Suicides involving soldiers,
On the Afghanistan mission.

We were taught to hide our pain,
Told to soldier on,
Back home I was too wired,
To let it go…. to stay calm.

I tried to deal with it myself,
Those most rattling memories,
Now I understand the symptoms,
From what happened overseas.

My wife – May God love her,
“You need help,” she said to me,
“You want to go back to being normal,
But you’ve changed to some degree.”

I’ve learned to know the triggers,
To avoid what’s bad for me
But I can’t undo the trauma,
From the invisible injury.

CROWS BY Sandy Shreve

I’ve had a newspaper clipping stuck to my fridge for several years. The yellowing scrap of paper features a poem by Sandy Shreve, entitled “Crows.” I love the poem’s clever wording and the rhythm of its imaging – a fitting tribute for one of our most prolific and intelligent flying creatures.

Sandy Shreve was on CBC radio this morning, talking about a project she helped initiate 20 years ago called “Poetry in Transit.” I wonder if “Crows” was ever posted on a Vancouver bus?

CROWS by Sandy Shreve:
Romans regarded the crow as a symbol of a the future because it cries Cras, cras(Tomorrow, tomorrow) – Barbara G. Walker

Out of all four corners of the world,
these ancients with tomorrow on their tongues
gather one by one,

cackle from whatever throne
they find to occupy –
at the edges of our eyes. the crows’

feet etch our every smile,
as if the only thing that matters
is our laughter.

Creatures of both earth and sky, they do not
care if we believe them evil,
dread them as death’s messengers

or simply scorn them for the mess they make
scavenging through garbage in the park.
Always dressed for funerals,

crows know they are the pallbearers for our souls,
their gift, to find the glitter in what we leave behind.

I just finished reading a wonderful book titled “Ice Bound” by Dr. Jerri Nielsen. The book details Dr Nielsen’s everyday experiences while wintering-over at an American research station at the South Pole. Dr.Nielsen has been hired as the resident doctor. She describes how a group of 41 people develop a special bond in the impossibly cold and totally isolated environment. It has been a warm and joyous experience until she realises she has symptoms of what may be a particularly virulent form of breast cancer. At one point, an oncologist, whom she has consulted on the Internet and who becomes a close friend,  forwards the words to a beautiful and inspiring poem titled “After A While.”

After awhile you learn

the subtle difference between

holding a hand and chaining a soul

and you learn

that love doesn’t mean leaning

and company doesn’t always mean security

And you begin to learn

that kisses aren’t contracts

and presents aren’t promises

and you begin to accept defeats

with your head up and your eyes ahead

with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child

and you learn

to build all your roads on today

because tomorrow’s ground is

too uncertain for plans

and futures have a way of falling down

in mid-flight

After awhile you learn

that even sunshine burns

if you get too much

so you plant your own garden

and decorate your own soul

instead of waiting for someone

to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure,

you really are strong

and you really do have worth

and you learn

and you learn

with every goodbye, you learn…


Friday August 12: Coffeehouse @ Fraser Lake Legion Hall- 165 Chowsunket St. from 6pm – 10pm.

Saturday August 13: The Second Annual Fraser Lake Festival of the Arts will be at the arena /soccer field site alongside Hwy. 16. Opening Ceremonies are at 10am. Displays and workshops featuring artistic creations in oil, acrylic, fiber, quilting, glass, mixed media, literary works, pottery, etc., as well as international culinary cuisine will be inside the arena. Onstage performances by musicians/poets and performing artists will be on the adjacent soccer field. Vendors of handmade products, naturally grown food products etc. will be nearby. Evening festivities will feature musical entertainment by “Deuces Wild” and “The Johnny Walkers” on the bandstand at White Swan Park from 8pm to 10pm.

Schedule of Onstage Activities

10:00AM Opening Ceremonies

Greetings-Richard Cannon
O Canada- Angela Heron
Mayor’s Address-Dwayne Lindstrom
Regional Dist. Rep.- Mark Parker
Arts Council Rep.- Eileen Hutson

10:20 AM *Literary Arts
10:30 AM Jamie Neilson
11:00 AM *Literary Arts

11:10 AM Tamara Ketlo
11-:40 AM *Literary Arts

11:50 AM Ken Maddox
12:20 PM *Literary Arts

12:30 PM Tom Forrest/ Oscar Lewis
1:00 PM *Literary Arts

1:10 PM Mike Ketlo
1:40 PM lntermission

1:50 PM Jerusha White
2:20 PM lntermission

2:30 PM Wendal Unger Family

3:00 PM Lake Babine Drummers/ Dancers

3:30 PM Bob Thon

4::00 PM Doug, Marnie Phair

4:30 PM Peter Ouellette

5:00 PM Sindee Serle

MC: Jamie Neilson. Sound by: Sound Party. Concession: Autumn Services
*Literary Arts includes poetry/short prose readings

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