Sunday, December 23, 2007

BC Christmas Memories

Micki wrote:

Months before I wrote my 1,000 dollar Christmas check to Ann and Alex, I spent most of my summer vacation on their land in the Chilcotin area of British Columbia. What an experience! My sister and I thought we had died and gone to heaven. We rode horseback everyday. We carded the wool to make horse blankets. We picked berries by the gallons. We went into the woods with Ann, who was a better hunter than her husband Alex, in search of enough meat to see them through the winter. Ann toted the gun, not us for god's sakes. We looked the other way and cringed when she raised the rifle to her shoulder. We knew what was coming, even though we had no clue there was a deer within sight. Ann knew.

Ann was from the Chilcotin tribe and Alex from the Bella Coola. Long before they met, maybe fell in love, and married, the Chilcotins and the Bella Coolas and the Shuswaps battled each other over -- what else? -- territory. But, that's not my story....

We learned a lot from Ann and Alex. I'll make this short. We adored them. They had really interesting friends. The game warden was all spit and polish. There was the guy who bought the bull for breeding that couldn't swim. The bull drowned before he got him to his ranch. There was Slim (yes, that was his name!) who bathed in Spain Lake, but not often we could tell when he'd come close. He rubbed his back on the tree trunks when he came out of the lake. We spied on him. There was the British fellow with the limp who ran the roadhouse at Alexis Creek. He put us up for couple of nights when Ann and Alex forgot they had a couple of charges to look after and went off to what they did in town when we had all gone into Williams Lake for supplies. The game warden took us to Jack-with-the-limp, and said "keep these girls until Ann and Alex come back through."

Jack said okay. The first night we were there while Jack was figuring out what to do with us, we were scared out of our minds. In the "licensed premises" (where legally, we weren't allowed), he told us to "sit over there and don't pay any attention to anyone." So, we did. After a while, we had to go to the bathroom. What we took to be the bathrooms said "Pointers" and "Setters" -- my sister, who was older, thought the pointers were the women because "they point out what has to be done." I wasn't sure about that. Finally, a guy got up from the bar and shuffled into the "pointers" and we knew the answer. What a relief!

We had many adventures. Too many to relate in this Christmas story.

Christmas, that year, I took a check from my mother's checkbook and wrote a $1,000 check to Ann and Alex. This was pre-electronic banking, bar codes, etc.

On the check, in that small but very consequential area stating the purpose of the check, I wrote, "1,000 CHRISTMAS WISHES AND 1,000 WISHES FOR A HAPPY NEW YEAR." Put it into an envelope, stamped it, and put it in the mail. Boy! Wouldn't they get a kick out of this, I thought. Pretty clever, Mick!

Well, they deposited the check into their account at the Royal Bank of Canada! I never thought they'd think a 12-YO would have the means to write a REAL $1,000 check! Some time later, after Ann and Alex had thought they had died and gone to heaven, my dad got a phone call from his bank. Stuff hit the fan, I'll tell you! I was in capital-T trouble.

That day our family got a Christmas card and a thank you note from Ann and Alex. Alex said the money made it possible for them to travel to see his mother for the first time in years. They just hadn't had the money. His mother was old and sick.

My dad softened and told me, "Well, you made them happy and gave them a great Christmas. Christmas is about giving. But, you are going to be working this off for months!"



DEN said...

Great story Micki!

Generosity is a wonderful thing,

Merry Northwest Christmas!!

Anonymous said...

That was a fabulous story. I loved it.

This year I have to admit going to be slow going. We are having storms keeping my sister in Duluth. I am exhausted from having my husband divorce me and me doing all the work. (I'm near the end of that little adventure and I am officially and decidedly happily divorced).

Thank all of you bloggers for thinking of me and sending me emails. I've read them all. I keep thinking of all the men who are good to me in my life so I don't get warped and bitter. You guys at the blog are some of the guys I think about.

Funny thing is, I'm already thinking about Spring. I can feel it.

Everyone...enjoy your holidays. Enjoy enjoy enjoy.


Carey said...


What can I say? Just a wonderful sister story too. Positively delightful and what a learning experience!!! A true pioneer-type story, you get to see how they live.


What a brave, brave soul. Especially trying to do all of this in frozen Minnesota, huh Den? I kind of know what you mean abou getting a little angry about doing all the Christmas work yourself. It's like that with everything, I know. It's exhausting. That's why I gave up heavy reading for a while. Too tired.

I hear the same complaint from other women in similar situations.

Carey said...

Wouldn't you know our dear Micki would come up with a wonderful story, Den?

I have stories, but not all stuff you want to hear, really.

Carey said...

I realized that this year when Den first asked for stories. I would have to dig through some of the parental alcohol-fests to find a time my sister wasn't fighting with my mom or dad.

See what I mean? That does not mean I don't like Christmas. But quaint little memories, they're blurred. Really, though, all of my Christmases have been wonderful, except one in Mexico. My sister and I were separated and I discovered that wasn't right at Christmas.

Carey said...

Downerville. Brandon woke up with a sore throat.

Serious downer. He keeps getting sick. Now, he must tell me stories, (that's what he does, he's a writer) in order to make himself feel better.

Toodles. I'm off to Brandon's fantasyland. I'll be back!

micki said...

Thanks everyone. Glad you enjoyed the story. I wrote that story last night after Bill and I returned to Bellingham on our aborted holiday trip to San Francisco, where our daughters and son-in-law and we were going to gather. I guess I wrote it as a distraction.

I won't go into all the details, as all's well that end's well or whatever that cliche is, but Bill had an "event" that took him to the ER in Everett on our way to SEA-TAC. He was pumped full of IV drugs to get his really chaotic heart back into sinus rhythm without the electroshock thingie. Anyway....Dr. B...we made a much smaller carbon footprint by not flying this holiday. :-) But, what a way to do it!

We count the many things in life that bring us good cheer and happiness. They are abundant. For me, all of you are part of that goodwill. Cheers, friends!

micki said...


Heat up that chicken soup! Brandon is facing a new experience this Christmas -- the sore throat might be a manifestaton of that.

Sending healing energy his way...

Maybe he'll tell you a story that will be perfect for sharing with us.

micki said...

Jeanne! I love your attitude. It's inspirational, in fact.

micki said...

Den, I really like the title you put on my story!

BC, in this case, works better than CE. :-))

DEN said...

Micki, geez is Bill OK? Better get him to a cardiac specialist ASAP, holiday or no. Ticker issues are not to be taken lightly ya know.

Carey, the stories do not need to be real, I know my X-mas past has not been that good either being an only child. Kinda lonely, make something up that you wish happened. X-mas Aliens? Whatever.

OK health tip for the day, use Hydrogen Peroxide for sore throats and scratchy ones too. Tip back about a shots worth and let it fizz in your throat, tip head back,(don't swallow it) ,repeat 3 to 4 times until fizzing slows down, rinse with warm water.

Guaranteed to stop sore throats in their tracks and prevent colds from getting a start. I have not been sick with flu or colds in years.

Tastes funky but the reward is worth it.

Carey said...

Oh, Micki. That could be it perhaps, the new experience for Brandon. I don't know, though. He's been getting sick alot for the last two years. I think his immune system needs major overhaul work.

At any rate, people are where they'll be for Christmas now. We're all settled in. It's snowed heavily in Michigan, and then stopped. That's what I hear from Carol. Already giving her fits, the Michigan winter. She's happy, though, and all ready for the big party.

Carey said...

Den, hon, you're a doll for the tip on sore throats. But can you see me trying to get this big boomer boy to put hydrogen peroxide in his mouth?

There is no way on the planet.

DEN said...

Carey, just tell him Den said to do it. When he feels better he will thank me. Tastes like crap works great!

Ya wanna be sick Brandon?...NOT!

DEN said...

Has anyone seen this one yet:

We are lawyers in the United States of America. As such, we have all taken an oath obligating us to defend the Constitution and the rule of law…. We believe the Bush administration has committed numerous offenses against the Constitution and may have violated federal laws…. Moreover, the administration has blatantly defied congressional subpoenas, obstructing constitutional oversight …. Thus, we call on House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy to launch hearings into the possibility that crimes have been committed by this administration in violation of the Constitution…. We call for the investigations to go where they must, including into the offices of the President and the Vice President. -- American Lawyers Defending the Constitution

@ The Nation

Wonder if will do any good? If anyone needed impeaching........

Gerald said...

A Christmas Story

Dear Posters:

Here is my Christmas story. I was 7 or 8 years old. We went over to see Santa Claus at an aunt and uncle’s home. I was very excited because Santa Claus would be coming.

In those days Christmas was about one or two gifts, like a shirt and pair of pants. No big gifts because the money was not there.

About two hours into the evening at my aunt and uncle’s home Santa Claus came knocking on the door. I was very excited. A real Santa Claus was making a personal visit to see us. How!

Santa Claus came in and he sat down with his bag of gifts and he was reading out the names so we could come up for our gifts. He called my name and I was excited to receive my shirt and pants. As Santa Claus was leaving, I sized him up from his head to his shoes. Santa Claus left.

Well, about fifteen minutes later my uncle Joe came over and for some reason I sized him up from his head to his shoes. You know his shoes were just like Santa Claus’ shoes. I said to my uncle that he was Santa Claus. Of course, he would not say if I was right. But, from that day forward I came to realize that there was no really Santa Claus.

I cannot exactly say how I felt. I could not say if I was happy or sad. Never again would I believe in Santa Claus!


David B. Benson said...

My Christmas story is about this Christmas.

It snowed a little yesterday and its snowing again right now. The weather prediction is that it will snow again on Tuesday.

A white Christmas is rather rare in these parts, but this year we'll have one.

DEN said...

Gerald, when we are kids we get suckered into all kinds of stuff, including the phony Santa thing.

More disappointment and misery to follow that revelation with many of our child ideas being dashed on the rocks of time.

Valuing stuff more than anything else is a bad habit anyway.

Focus on the food goodies, now there is something to believe in.


David B. Benson said...

I once drove from Williams Lake to Bella Coola, and then back again two days later. Saw three (adult) black bears and four cubs. The cinnamon phase mother bear had an unusual three cubs. It was obvious that neither mother bear nor any of her cubs had ever seen an automobile before.

Chilcotin, BC

Be sure to fill the tank with gas at every opportunity. All two or three of them...

Carey said...

Like that Carl's Jr. commercial. Don't bother Den, he's eating.

I love the stories. David, I'm happy for you I suppose. Although we know what unusual weather really means.

Micki, has it snowed up there?

I told you guys about the Celtic Woman Christmas special on PBS. It's just lovely.

Chicken soup heating up for lunch.

Carey said...

Drinking not alcohol, but Airborne to avoid Brandy' cold.

Carey said...

We only like snuggled all up last night to watch a movie.

Oh yeah, I'll get his Christmas cold. What's a mother for?

Carey said...

A black bear tale, I have a couple of those! From Yosemite on the High Sierra trails.

My girlfriend and I (we were 17 or something) were hiking the mountain camps and, one evening, ran right smack dab into a she-bear. That bear was on a mission I tell you.

Nancy and I had just finished smoking a joint, unusual when you're hiking heavily and need all the oxygen you can get. We looked up and the bear stopped cold and stared at us. We did the same.

We stood there just staring. Suddenly she moved past us quickly. We realized the scout master that had just run by us was high tailing it away from the bear and that bear was not to be interrupted in the chase. She wanted the scout master.

He did something and she was just mad as hell.

She wasn't looking at us in that manner, after all. Whew!

Oh, the relief of knowing it wasn't us she was mad at.

DEN said...

Carey, mama bear probably thought you were 'cub' scouts!

David B. Benson said...

Here is a map of the infamous route 20:

Lake Williams to Bella Coola

After Tatla Lake it was gravel all the way until in the Bella Coola valley.

What the map doesn't show is the one in five grade down the mountain into that valley. What a drive!

DEN said...

That place looks like too much fun.

I especially like the barber shop.

David B. Benson said...

Go in June if you want to meet the bears.

David B. Benson said...

Scroll about halfway down for a photo of The Hill.

Bella Coola

It is steeper than it looks. No photo can do it justice.

DEN said...

For you map moguls

DEN said...

Coldplay sends holiday greetings

DEN said...

There was a movie about a place like that up in BC where it was mostly Indians populating the area and a very very small town setting, neat flick but the name escapes me at the moment, hmmmm

micki said...

Den, this probably isn't the movie, but it looks interesting

micki said...

Go in June from Williams Lake and then take the BC Ferry from Bella Coola to Port Hardy and beyond!

Alexis Creek looks downright "citified" compared to the days when Jack-with-the-limp ran the roadhouse.

That road to Bella Coola -- Hiway 20 -- didn't go all the way through until sometime in the middle 50s. Progress!

David B. Benson said...

Grass Beyond the Mountains

This is what it was like before highway 20 went down the mountain to Bella Coola.

And no, this is not northern British Columbia. Lake Williams is only about one-third of the way north of the US/Canada border.

Hajji said...


great story...a thousand smiles to you!


David B. Benson said...

The book is a wonderous read, highly recommended by me.

And the Chilcotin is the most romantic countryside it has ever been my privilege to drive through. Beats runner-up places such as Switzerland, Australia and Norway.

Well, just edges those places out.

David B. Benson said...

Richard Hobson wrote two other books about his life on his four million acre ranch in the Chilcotin. Here is a link for the last one:

The Rancher Takes a Wife

Carey said...

Cheesecake in oven. Dryer out. I have a whole load of just washed and wet laundry.

Hang it out, even in winter, if you're in San Diego!

David B. Benson said...

Actually this

Nothing Too Good for a Cowboy

was the last to be published.

carol said...

Thanks for the story, Micki. Velly interesting.

Gosh, I hope Bill is back to normal! That story isn't the kind any of us want to hear. :(

Hajji said...


We wish Bill our best, too.

Too many folks get sick with the hustle, bustle, change in weather, change in diet and locations, this time of year.

If he's got a history, I'm sure he's got a cardiologist or two in his pocket.

San Fran's not going anywhere, but I'm sure you'll somehow connect with the family.

I gotta work the '25 and '26...I'm trying to tell Jill not to wait for me and head on up to IN to greet the new addition. I'll catch up with her this weekend after a brief stop to hang with Mom and the sisters, brothers and THEIR kids and grandkids in Kentucky, on the way.

Who knows, maybe a New Year greeted, on the way home...Cumberland Falls is nice, but the full moon and the "Moonbow" it creates will be gone by then.


micki said...

Hajji -- Spot on. Bill is in good hands. We're both comfortable that everything that needed to happen to get him back into sinus rhythm and good shape was done. ER folks are heroes and heroines. Thanks, also, about my story. You'd love it up there in BC! Take the donkeys.

Carol -- I'll tell you more about it soon. Hope all is well in Stockbridge! Is the snow up to the eaves?

Dr. B -- Did you fall in love in the Chilcotin? I think you must have. I read "Grass Beyond the Mountains" but have not thought about that wonderful book in years. I'm going to the library! I think we both were impressed with the indomitable spirit of the characters in the book -- they had no imagination for the impossible! They were all about doing.

micki said...

Crey -- Bear smoking a joint

micki said...

ooops -- I was disjointed and misspelled Carey

DEN said...

Smokey the 'far out' rasta-bear!

Alan said...

Awesome story Micki! You, and Hajji as well, have a wonderful way with words.
I'm glad Bill is ok. Tell him we said "hey".