Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Morning Treat

    Every day after I paint my square and write my blog, I go out to the greenhouse to see how everything is faring.  I have some very prolific cherry tomato plants out there, so half of the pleasure of checking things out in the greenhouse, is eating some of the ripening cherry tomatoes right off the vine.  With the long stretch of warm weather, while slowing down, the greenhouse is still producing tomatoes and chili peppers.

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Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Snow Tires, Now?

    Every year at this time, people who live in mountainous regions of BC have to put snow tires on their vehicles and keep them on until April 1st.   It’s the law.   This year it seems strange to be putting the snow tires on, because the weather has been so warm and summery, but on they will go today.  

    Snow tires not only have deeper tread for moving through the snow, but they also are made with a softer rubber that sticks better to the road than regular tires when the temperature is colder than 7°C (44°F).  

    It is expensive to buy two sets of tires and a bit of a hassle to have to be switching tires twice a year, but if it will keep us safer it is worth it.  Winter driving is very dangerous and we knew people who have been killed doing it.

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Monday, 3 October 2022

The Muskrat Returns

    Okay, I realize that this is a pretty horrible photo, but sometimes you just have to go with what you have.  The muskrat tends to be camera shy.

    The whole reason I built my pond was to create habitat for wildlife.  Muskrats tend to get a bad wrap, but I am happy to see one out there swimming around in the pond.  

    Muskrats are similar to beavers, although smaller.  They are really large aquatic relatives of voles.  Instead of having a flat tail like a beaver they have a rat-like tail that swishes back and forth as they swim.  They don’t build dams or chew down trees (I have always lived in fear that a beaver might come to my pond and start falling all of the trees that grow around it.)  Muskrats eat cattail tubers and the roots of other aquatic plants.  

    The muskrat overwintered in my pond and then disappeared all summer and has now re-appeared to spend another winter.  They don’t store food, or hibernate, instead they just continue to gather food (mostly cattail tubers) under the ice, as they need them.  In the spring when the ice melts, there are always a lot of plants without their roots, floating on the surface of the pond.

    Muskrats do build lodges, but not my muskrat, it  burrows out a place to live in the bank of the pond, underground.  

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Sunday, 2 October 2022

Beautiful Fall Days

     I am always complaining about the weather, but I really can’t complain about the beautiful sunny fall days we are having.  Some of the warm temperatures have broken records.  The days are hanging around 22°C (71°F) which to my mind is perfect.  The trees are turning yellow and leaves are beginning to flutter to the ground.  

    I took this photo yesterday as we walked around the pond.  I am still amazed at that brilliant red color of the Boston Creeper.

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Saturday, 1 October 2022

Friday, 30 September 2022

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

I have always found Steve Martin, the imaginative comedian and author, not only to be a “Wild and Crazy Guy” but also a very clever and entertaining human being, so I was curious as to how his life developed.  Born in 1945 into a family headed with a cold and uncaring father who wanted to be a movie star, in 1950, his father moved the family from Waco, Texas to Hollywood.  His father’s stardom failed to materialize and so he ended up selling real estate.   Steve’s childhood was unexceptional, but when the family again had to move, this time because a highway was planned through their house, they settled in Orange County, and the move changed the direction of Steve’s life.

His new home was very close to Disneyland which had just been built.  A friend told Steve that kids could a job at Disneyland selling guidebooks, so Steve rode his bike over and got a job.   Selling the guidebooks meant that Steve got into Disneyland free and after he was done selling, he would spend the rest of the day exploring the “Magic Kingdom”.    In particular, he spent hours watching and studying one of the comedy acts and also one of the magic acts, until he was thoroughly versed in comedic timing and magic.  He then got a job in a Disneyland magic store selling and demonstrating magic tricks.

At the age of 18, Martin left his employment at Disneyland and took a job at Knott’s Berry Farm, a similar attraction that had been established before Disneyland.  There he was able to live and earn a living as part of a group that showed off their talents and did skits for the audiences.  Later after doing some standup comedian jobs, he was called to do a standup temporary job in Aspen, Colorado after the professional comedian they had hired, broke his leg skiing.  Steve’s comedy acts included a lot of sight jokes, banjo playing, and stupid magic tricks.

Through a girlfriend he become enamored with philosophy and sought a university major in Philosophy during his free time, while he worked as an entertainer.  After switching universities, he took both a beginners course in Advanced Symbolic Logic at the same time he was taking a beginners course in Advanced Symbolic Logic.  Simultaneously taking the two courses, fried his brain and so he switched his major to theater, and began to realized his future was in show business.

Steve met and fell for a girl named Mitzi Trumbo, who turned out to be the daughter of Dalton Trumbo, a famous screen writer, who was one of the Hollywood writers who had been investigated and then black listed from his job during the “Red Scare” of the 1950’s.  Trumbo ended up having to write the screen plays of very famous movies, Spartacus, Hawaii, and Exodus, under fake names.

Steve was often invited to be a part of Mitzi’s liberal family occasions, and was amazed at how warm and stimulating their family life was compared to his own cold upbringing.  I particularly enjoyed this bit about the Trumbos because Dalton Trumbo is someone I have always admired and his novel, Johnny Got His Gun has always been one of my favorites.

Through another girlfriend, Steve got a job as one of the writers for The Smother Brother’s Comedy Hour, one of my favorite political/comedy/music shows, of the late 1960’s.   As a comedy writer, Martin felt out of his depth and at one point, when asked if he could come up with some lines, he tried to act confident and answered, “Sure”, but after spending hours trying to come up with something and getting nowhere, and figuring his job was on the line, in desperation he called a comedic friend and ask if he could use one of his lines.  The friend said sure.  The line he had borrowed was a big success, and later when Martin asked if he had thought it up, he lied and said yes, then felt guilty about lying for years.  

While he eventually became successful as a writer for the Smothers Brothers’ show, inwardly he was very stressed about thinking he couldn’t do it and this led him to have panic attacks at night for years.

When CBS cancelled the Smother’s Brothers show because of political pressure from Nixon, Steve and the other writers lost their jobs.  He and Dave Epstein, who later became famous as “Super Dave” began writing for The Sonny & Cher Show, but eventually, Steve Martin decided he didn’t want to be a comedy writer, but rather, a standup comedian.  

It took years of him doing gigs on afternoon talk shows like Merv Griffin and Steve Allen, practicing routines and perfecting his act, before he eventually he made it to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  This gave him nationwide public recognition and he was able to then play in clubs across North America, but he still only played in smaller venues, whose pay was small and once he had deducted all of his travel and accommodation expenses,his wage was even smaller.  To make more money he started working for the “Gate” money, not a set fee.

After more appearances on the Tonight Show, his status grew and his audience numbers at his gigs started to skyrocket.  He was soon performing for hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands of people during a show.  He became very famous and wealthy.  

As his fame grew, his happiness declined.  He was no longer a private person who could walk down the street or do things anonymously.  Everywhere he went,  people would coming up to him.  He tried to be polite, but there were just too many.  He felt trapped in his house and depressed.  Eventually he quit doing standup comedy.  He wrote and made the successful movie “The Jerk” and wrote several novels.

His father, shortly before his death, did reconcile with Steve, confessing that he wished he would have been more loving toward Steve during his life.  All through Steve Martin’s amazing career, his father never said any thing nice or positive about Steve’s rise to fame and fortune, or his work.

It had been a long time since I had seen anything by Steve Martin and so after reading this autobiography I went to youtube and watched a few of his old sketches.  They are still very  funny and they stand up so well, even decades later.

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Thursday, 29 September 2022

Autumn Is Showing

    The trees are turning.  In the Robson Valley we mostly get yellow leaves.  Do you see the Aspen trees in the photo above, they have no leaves.  Something got to the Aspen this year, I’m not sure if it was an insect or a disease, but a lot of Aspen had leaves that turned brown and fell off during the summer.  

    I had to include the photo below because it shows the intense red of the creeping ivy leaves on our garden fence.

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