The Tale Spinner

Vol. XXIII, No. 5

February 4, 2017


  • Barbara Wear concludes her story about travelling in the west
  • Burke Dykes writes about his experience with meat guns
  • Paul French remembers his favourite dog, Ozzie
  • Catherine Green sends winning alternate definitions
  • Irene Harvalias forwards a story about an assistant doctor
  • Betty Audet sends some unusual jokes about grammar and punctuation
  • Sites are suggested by Barbara Wear, Shirley Coutts, and Tom Telfer

Barbara Wear concludes her story of a tour of


We left Chris and Becky’s around 10:00 a.m. and drove north. We made it through Seattle without much traffic and stopped in Burlington for lunch at the Red Robin. Clara had baby back ribs and I had a mushroom burger and we shared our meal.

Since we do not have Target stores in our area, we decided to do some shopping. I needed another panorama camera and so we were off on a shopping tour for about an hour. Clara spent more than I did, but she got some good bargains, especially on some dark green sheets.

We stopped in Bellingham and filled the gas tank, as we knew gas prices would be much higher once we crossed into Canada. At the border we drove through the Peace Arch again and I snapped a picture of the Canadian Maple Leaf flag which was made of flowers, like the American flag when we drove south.

Suddenly the Vancouver skyline came into view and we drove through the city and across the Lions Gate Bridge and into North Vancouver. We were surrounded by fjords on the left and mountains on the right and that is all we saw for many miles.

After travelling for about an hour north of Vancouver, we encountered some small stands on the right side of the road. Most were operated by Native Canadians and they were selling jewelry and sun catchers and other hand-made items. We didn’t buy anything but now I wished I had bought a pair of earrings I was admiring. We had some café latte (coffee with milk) and then left the area. We arrived in the Whistle-Blackcomb area around 5:00 p.m.

We inquired at the Le Chemois Hotel about rates and were told the cost for a night was $119 Canadian.  We decided to take the room and were pleasantly surprised when we opened the door to find a suite.  The room on the left had a king-size bed, TV, and shower. The room on the right had a pull-down full- size bed, couch, table and chairs, microwave, refrigerator, TV, dishes and pots and pans. The suite also had four telephones. We felt as if we had found our Shangri-La.   That evening we went to Monk’s Restaurant and had prawns and scallops over rice. I can taste it now.  It was that delicious. We had a leisurely dinner, and then took a walk along the street doing some window shopping. That night we sat in my room with the curtains open and stared up at the mountains.  From time to time we would see a flicker of lights, so presumed people were camping on the mountains.  We stayed awake long enough to see the moon come up over those same mountains.

Day 6: We ate breakfast outdoors and then walked over to the lower village and took the gondola up to nearly the top of Mt. Whistler. On our gondola was a mother and daughter from New Brunswick and a girl from Sydney, Australia, who was working at the restaurant on top of the mountain. The ride took a half hour.

Once at the top we had the most panorama view of mountains and glaciers. We were above the tree line. I thought it would be cold as we were in shorts and T-shirts, but it was quite comfortable. The bugs liked to nibble too much though.  

From the gondola terminal, we climbed the rocky roads to the base of the glacier and played in the snow. Since it was August, there was not a lot of snow, but I managed to get enough to make a snowball and Clara captured a picture of me holding it just before I tossed it at her. Children and adults were captivated by the snow and were walking and sliding in it. The ground was quite rocky but with a winter snowfall, it can drop as much as 12 feet (3.66 meters) to cover the rocks for skiers. There was a sign shaped like a measuring stick stuck in the ground that recorded the depth and a record was set in April, 1995.

On our descent of the mountain, our gondola stopped. Clara was not fond of heights and so since she didn’t want to panic, she sat on the floor of the gondola. We were accompanied by a young man from Calgary, Alberta, who kept chatting with us to help pass the time. While it seemed like an eternity (10 minutes), the gondola started, only to stop again, and then start, and finally we made it safely to the bottom. A black bear had been sighted and that was the reason for the start and stop of the gondola, but we but we never saw it.

Once down off the mountain, we went to the Whistler Square and got a cup of coffee and watched a juggler perform. Every day performers are in that square. They do it to earn money.   That night we went back to the Monk’s Restaurant and I had the same meal of prawns and scallops over rice and Clara had ribs in a peach gravy. We enjoyed sharing our meals and both were delicious.

Day 7:  Wednesday morning, after we had breakfast, we left Whistler Village and drove north into the Lillooet Mountain Range, where all we saw for hours and hours were pine trees of all shapes and sizes, a cool bubbling stream, and beautiful mountains.  When we arrived in Lillooet it was time for lunch so we stopped in one of the local restaurants. Lillooet is a Native Canadian town nestled in the mountains.

After lunch we drove south along the rushing Frazer River far below and through tunnels and hair-raising cliffs for several hours before we finally reached the Trans-Canada Highway. We encountered a lot of traffic on route to Vancouver and were glad when we finally reached our destination.

Clara fortunately had friends in Vancouver and when we arrived at Jan and Dan Phelps' it was 7:00 p.m. Jan surprised us with a delicious salmon dinner, and since she loves to serve her company healthy meals, the table was displayed with many dishes to choose from which of course we really enjoyed. They live in what I call a “doll house” - typical of Vancouver homes. Fortunately for us, they had a two-room apartment in their basement that was vacant and so we called those two rooms ”home” for the next few days.

Day 8: Jan offered to take us to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. We packed salmon sandwiches and drove to the ferry for the 1½-hour trip to Victoria. The view was beautiful through the Gulf Islands and we arrived on Vancouver Island around 1:00 p.m. Jan paid for the tour of the homes around Victoria with their plush gardens and landscapes. It rains a lot in this area and is a rain forest to all the plants and shrubs. Each home was as beautiful as their neighbors'. . When we reached downtown Victoria, we parked in the Empress Hotel garage and walked to the lobby. It was a grand hotel, with a side that looks out toward the harbor. Captain Cook was the first to reach Vancouver Island, and a statue to honor him is across from the hotel. We also toured the museum while there.

Just before we left Victoria, we toured the Craigderroch Castle (pronounced Craig Derek,) which was built long before other homes were built in Victoria. It sits on a hill overlooking the harbor. It has been passed on to one generation after the other.   The ferry ride back to Vancouver was quite special under the darkened skies. We saw the sun set over Victoria, which I captured on film and is one of the prettiest of my pictures.

Day 9: On Friday, Jan took us down to Gastown, which is a tourist area of Vancouver. Both Dan and Jan had made plans for that day so Clara and I went off on our own. We decided to take a trolley ride around Vancouver to see the city. This turned into a worthwhile trip. We went through Stanley Park, which is also a rain forest. It had beautiful lush greenery which makes up most of the park. While in Stanley Park we could see the inner harbor, and the cruise ship that had docked that morning was the ship on which we had originally been scheduled to sail. At the same time, Clara and I looked at each other and realized at that moment that we were glad we had not taken the cruise. Our “Plan B” was extremely wonderful and we couldn’t believe how much we had seen and how much fun we had had.

We exited the trolley in an area of the city near the beach and had some Greek food for lunch. We boarded another trolley which took us to the north of the city and then back to Gastown. I bought a T-shirt as a souvenir, and then we called Jan to pick us up.

When Jan came to get us she had plans for us. She took us to her office and gave us both a massage. Jan is a nurse and also a licensed massage therapist. It was a wonderful relaxing way to end our day in Vancouver.

As a finale to our trip, Clara and I took Jan and Dan to a Thai restaurant, where we all enjoyed some great cuisine.

Day 10: We left the Phelps' home fairly early in the morning to catch our plane back to Boston. We had one change over in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. We had just enough time to walk from one terminal to the other, and grab a café latte before boarding our plane for Boston. Frank, my son, met us at the airport for our trip home.


Burke Dykes writes: Irene Harvalias’article about the chicken cannon brought back some memories:

Years ago I was fortunate to land a job at the Boeing Company in Seattle. Within a year, I was assigned to work with a group known as the “bird gunners.” Their task was to fling anesthetized birds (large birds) at the pilots’ windscreens of simulated cockpits. My main job was to devise the electronics to record the speed of the birds leaving the pneumatic “gun.”

The birds were soon replaced by rolled pork or beef roasts once our activities became more widely known. Although the bird gunning took place in a somewhat remote industrial section of Seattle, the rats attracted by the “splatter” of the meat soon drew unwelcome attention to our activities. Finally, the whole operation was moved to a remote part of the Tukwila Reservation 40 miles north of Seattle.

We did realize that our projectiles had to be properly thawed.

Paul French writes about his dog,


Ozzie came to us in the summer of 2000. He was a purebred German Shepherd with excellent blood lines that had been fixed by mistake. He could look scary to someone seeing him for the first time, but if you looked at his face, you would see he was a harmless playful puppy, and he stayed that way all his life. I loved dogs, but I didn’t think it was the right time to get a dog; things were too busy for us. He soon won me over.

He was my son Coleman’s dog and named after the crazy rock star Ozzie Osborn. It was a fitting name in many ways because Ozzie loved cars - riding in them, chasing them, and watching them being washed. Mike, our neighbour across the street, had five cars and he washed two of them in his driveway most weekends. If Ozzie saw Mike washing a car, he would beg to go out, and then he’d sit and watch Mike the way we would watch sports on TV. As soon as Mike finished, Ozzie would happily return home. The funny thing was Mike didn’t like dogs, but he liked Ozzie.

Ozzie also liked other animals: horses, cats, and my daughter Halina’s guinea pig was his best friend. He checked on the guinea pig a few times a day and tell us if the water or food was low.  When Halina let the guinea pig run free, the two of them snuggled together. This monster-size dog and the small guinea pig had a wonderful bond.

Then on a beautiful sunny day not long before we moved, Ozzie was in the back yard and heard Mike preparing to wash the car. Ozzie dashed into the street and scared the police chief, who was out for a jog. The police chief thought Ozzie was attacking him and he peed his pants. Ozzie was just going to watch the car being washed. With everyone watching and not knowing what to do, the police chief got one of my other neighbours to drive him home.

Two days later we received a letter in the mail that said there was a shoot-on-sight order against Ozzie and he had 48 hours to get out of town or be killed. When I asked around, this was a real thing, and police officers could be fired for failing to carry out such an order. We learned that there was a kennel just outside the city limits that was there for this exact reason. We took Ozzie there immediately.

The kennel was a nice place but it was jail for Ozzie. He couldn’t understand why he’d been left there, and he was extremely depressed and wasn’t eating. Then we brought the guinea pig to the kennel and Ozzie was fine. We visited daily, but Ozzie was a different dog with his friend with him.

This continued for five or six weeks until we moved. At that time we had to call the police and let them know we were moving Ozzie through town, and we were given three hours to complete the journey through town.

This is when we were moving back to Canada, and we were all in our thirty-foot RV with Ozzie and the guinea pig. We were also pulling a horse trailer with our two horses. When Ozzie went out when we stopped, he always checked on the horses and talked to them, as if to say that everything would be all right. Of course it was all right for Ozzie - he and his guinea pig had just broken out of jail.

Ozzie loved our new horse farm and soon was the boss of four, then five, and finally seven horses. He also had more new friends in the barn cats. When the mother and siblings of one of the barn kittens were killed by a raccoon, we brought Zane up to live in the house. It took a long time for Zane to like Ozzie, whereas Ozzie protected Zane from day one. Soon more kittens came to live at the house. Around that time, Jill, one of the other barn cats, started to bond with Ozzie. It was as if big old Ozzie was her mother. Then Jill started to follow Ozzie everywhere and spent all of her time up at the house. She wasn’t allowed inside because my wife didn’t like Jill.

When workers came to put up a satellite dish or to deliver propane, they were always greeted by Ozzie, and even the ones who didn’t like dogs would be his friend before they left.

Sadly, the guinea pig died, and Ozzie was devastated. We gave the guinea pig a funeral, but Ozzie dug him up. He wanted to be with his friend. It was heartbreaking to watch Ozzie, and we had to move the cage into storage because he kept looking for his friend. Jill became now Ozzie’s best friend until she came to live with me not long after Nadine and I split up.

A few years after that Nadine had Ozzie put down, not because he was sick or anything like that, but because he would pay attention to me or Coleman whenever we would visit. She could be fickle that way.

I still miss my friend and think about him often as I’m getting into a car. Ozzie always liked to ride shotgun.

Catherine Green forwards these


The Washington Post published the winning submissions to a contest in which readers were asked to supply alternate meanings for common words. The winners were:

1. Coffee, n.: The person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted, adj.: Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

3. Abdicate, v:. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade, v.: To attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly, adj.: Impotent.

6. Negligent, adj.: Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

7. Lymph, v.: To walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle, n.: Olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence, n.: Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash, n.: A rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle n.: A humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude, n.: The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. Pokemon, n.: A Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster, n.: A person who sprinkles his conversation with yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism, n.: The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent, n.: An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Irene Harvalias sends this joke about


A doctor in Duluth, Minnesota wants to get off work and go hunting, so he approaches his assistant.

He says to Ole: "Ole, I am goin' huntin' tomorrow and don't want to close the clinic. I want you to take care of the clinic and take care of all my patients."

"Yes, sir!" answers Ole.

The doctor goes hunting and returns the following day and asks: "So, Ole, how was your day?"

Ole tells him that he took care of three patients. "The first one had a headache, so I gave him Tylenol."

"Bravo, mate. And the second one?" asks the doctor.

"The second one had stomach burning, and I gave him Maalox, sir," says Ole.

"Bravo, bravo! You're good at this. And what about the third one?" asks the doctor.

"Sir, I was sitting here and suddenly the door opens and a woman enters. Like a flame, she undresses herself,  taking off everything, including her panties,and lies down on the table and shouts: 'Help me! I haven't seen a man in over two years!'"

"Tunderin' Lard Yeezus, Ole, what did you do?" asks the doctor.

"I put drops in her eyes!"

Betty Audet forwards these jokes by Eric K. Auld:


A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink then leaves.

A dangling modifier walks into a bar. After finishing a drink, the bartender asks it to leave.

A question mark walks into a bar?

Two quotation marks "walk into" a bar.

A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to drink.

The bar was walked into by the passive voice.

Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They drink. They leave.


Barbara Wear sends the URL for photos from the New York Times of the women's march in cities around the world after the inauguration of Donal Trump:

Barbara also forwards this link to photos of old model cars in Cuba, where they have not had access to car parts for over 50 years,. Their mechanics were forced to keep their old models running by making new parts:

Shirley Coutts forwards this link to a video showing the many uses of coconut oil:

Tom Telfer sends the URL for a video of Kyle Franklin performing his Wingtip Dragging Comedy act in a Super Cub airplane:

Tom also forwards this link to the best videos of awesome people in January:

From the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, here are suggestions on how to prevent identity theft online:

Norway wants to give Finland a mountain peak for its 100th birthday:

More info at link

In this TED talk, Ray Anderson claims that business and industry are the major culprits in environmental destruction, and tells how he shifted his company from being a plunderer to being the greenest:

After the first big snowstorm of the season in central BC, an empty grain train plows through fallen trees on its way eastbound into the Canadian Rockies:

In this video, Matthew Frehilch, one of a group of Toronto students who are trying to develop things to help refugees, speaks about how logs made from used coffee grounds can be used as a substitute for firewood:

Here are seven tips on how to make a secure password:

Climate scientist Alan Robock claims that global warming theory is based on solid evidence:


If a football field were a timeline of cosmic history, cavemen to now spans the thickness of a blade of grass in the end zone.

- Neil deGrasse Tyson


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