Thursday 31 January 2013

Enough, Already

    Today seemed like a good time to do my annual snow measure.  If you look at the numbers along the left hand side of the ruler, you can see that it measures 25.5 inches ( 65 cm) of snow on the ground, out on my pasture, where I usually do the measuring.  I had to do the trail on snowshoes.  Below is a shot how high the snow comes up my leg when I don’t wear snowshoes.

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Wednesday 30 January 2013

A Foot of New Snow

For two days now, the weather report was giving us a severe snow warning, and not much happened.  Today, the warning was gone, and we got a foot (30cm) of fresh powdery snow on the ground.  The bulk of it fell last night, so when I woke up and looked outside, I knew I would not be keeping to my normal schedule today.
    So, instead of painting my square and taking our walk on the trail, I was pushing snow to clear the driveway.  It took me 2.5 hours to do it.  If you look closely at the photo, you might say, I didn’t do a very good job of it, but the tire tracks you see were made in the 3 inches of snow that fell after I finished the job.
    I wanted to get the drive shoveled, because I got a call from the Sears Outlet in McBride, that informed us that our new freezer had arrived, and I knew I was going into town to pick it up.  The freezer is now unpacked and installed in our laundry room, and I am finally getting around to doing this blog, 4.5 hours later than normal.   The pressure is off as far as needing the cold temperatures to keep all our frozen food, that I put outside, frozen. 
    I hope we don’t get any more snow because the piles beside our driveway are getting increasing high, and it is getting harder and harder to put fresh snow on top of it.  I am still pretty whacked from shoveling all the snow from the driveway, so I think I will forgo our usual afternoon walk too. 

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Tuesday 29 January 2013

Grass Pile

     When I had a herd of angora goats, the grass in the paddock area stayed pretty short, as the goats grazed on it.  Since I no longer have the goats, the grass grows really long, so each summer I cut it down a couple of times, using my lawn trimmer.  I always hate to see anything go to waste, so I usually, rake up the long cut grass, which turns into hay, after it dries in the sun.  I then piled it into a small haystack.
    Last year, when the hay was supposed to be drying, it got rained on several times.  This causes mold in the hay, but that didn’t bother me much because I was not going to feed it to the animals, but instead, just use it for mulch in the garden.  During the winter, the three foot high pile was completely covered with snow.
    I noticed the other day, that the deer, had broken through the blanket of snow to eat the hay.  I usually think the deer around here have it pretty good, with all their visits to my compost pile, the peanut butter log and bird feeder, and the fresh willow twigs from the branch I cut down, but, I guess, if they are digging into my old hay pile, they are still fairly hungry.  Now I feel bad and wish the hay in there was of better quality if they want to eat it.

To read older blogs and to view my paintings go to:

Monday 28 January 2013

My Camera

    I quite often hear about people being addicted to technology.  Usually it revolves around the cell phone or internet, and I must admit, I am probably one of those addicted to the net.  The several times that our internet service has gone down, both Joan and I found ourselves pacing back and forth in the house, worrying about how long it is going to be off.
    Yesterday, I discovered that I also have a real dependency on my camera.  I use it everyday for my blog, and I take it with me most everywhere that I go.
    Yesterday, I had another opportunity to play some music with the people I jammed with, a couple of weeks ago.  We were going to play at a house in Dunster, which is a small hamlet, about 24 miles (38 km) east of McBride.
    Along with my guitar and mandolin, I took my camera.   I caught a ride with Brad, who is the musician, who told me about the first jam session.  Once there I hung my jacket and camera on the back of a chair.  
    The jam included the same people that played at the curling lounge.  Again, I had a really enjoyable time, trying to keep up to the chord changes on unfamiliar songs, and leading the way on some of the songs I knew.  We broke up around 2:45 in the afternoon, I discovered that someone, had hung my jacket on a coat hook on the wall, I put it on, grabbed my guitar and mandolin cases, went out to Brad’s car.  Brad drove me back to my truck, which I had parked in McBride.  As soon as I transferred my instruments into my truck, I realized that I had left my camera at Lelani’s place, back in Dunster.
    What an awful feeling suddenly overtook me.  I hadn’t realized what a powerful dependency I had on the camera.  I felt lost without it.  I drove back to my house, then I called Lelani, and she discovered my camera right away.  It was also hung up on a coat hook.   I immediately, jumped into the car and drove the 24 miles back to Dunster to get it.
    What relief I felt, when it was back in my hands.  I will have to keep better track of it when I lay it down, I certainly don’t want to go through all that anguish again. 

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Sunday 27 January 2013

My Hair-Brained Idea Worked

        Shortly after we bought our house in McBride, about 35 years ago, we planted a few willow trees around the house.  They have grown tremendously since then.  We have enjoyed the shade they provide during the summer, but lately I have been noticing how some of the big branches have grown over the house.
    The limbs are getting really thick, and I have been worrying that as they continue to grow, eventually they will break and crash onto the house.  I have been studying them for months, trying to figure out how I could get them down without damaging the house.  It seemed like an impossible task, but I did finally come up with an idea.  
    I figured if I could get a rope tied high on the branch, then if I could string it through a crotch on another branch and run it out to the driveway and hooked it onto the truck, I might be able to cut the offending branch until it started to lower, then by driving the truck forward, I could slowly lower the branch onto the roof of the house, where I could cut it up.  I wanted to do this when there was a lot of snow on the roof, so that it would sort of protect our tin roof from damage.
    Yesterday, I put my idea to the test, and amazingly, it all worked out.  I had quite a time trying to get the rope tied high on the branch.  I tried throwing a spear, hooked on to the rope, but I couldn’t get it high enough.  I then tried throwing a ball of heavy twine over the branch, but it kept getting hung up on the bark.   I finally succeeded by standing on the roof, rigging up a wire which held the ball of string onto an extension pole tree trimmer, and tipping it over the branch.  I then pulled a rope over with the twine and looped it around the branch.  
    I was full of fear that the branch might be too heavy for the nylon rope, but the rope held, and I was able to slowly lower the branch onto the roof with the truck.
    Once I had the branch all bucked up (the start of next year’s firewood), I dragged the smaller branches off to a brush pile I have in the woods.  I remembered that the deer really like to eat the willow twigs, so I spread them around on the snow.  It didn’t take but five minutes, before the deer were out there eating them.

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Saturday 26 January 2013

Back in the Groove

    I just spent 3 days up in Prince George.  I have been having trouble with my hip/pelvis/back and when I went to the chiropractor in Nov, he said that it might take 3 consecutive days of manipulation to fix the problem.  
    The thought of spending 3 whole days in Prince George triggered my defense mechanisms, and I manage to put off the trip for a month or so, but finally, the pressure to do something to ease the pain made me capitulate, and so up to Prince George we went.
    Sadly, after my three days at the chiropractor, my hip/pelvis/back is still the same.  We did manage to spend a whack of money, to help the Prince George economy, while we were there.  We took our truck so we could buy and haul back a new freezer, and a new mattress for me.    
    We bought both items, but didn’t need the truck because neither was in stock, and they will have to be delivered to McBride.  Meanwhile, our frozen food is still outside, relying on cold temperatures to remain in the solid state.  There were some above freezing temperatures during the day while we were gone, but it dipped below freezing at night, and I think everything is still fairly frozen.
   I was able to post a few blogs on this site during my stay in PG.  I was happy that I could use my camera, iPad, and a motel wifi network to do it.  It’s nice to know I have that option if I travel.
    It is really nice to be back home into my old routine.  I ate my usual breakfast, we walked the trail, I painted my square, and now I am doing the blog.  It is all very comforting.

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Friday 25 January 2013

Pillow Talk

I am a pretty basic kind of guy. I don't usually see the need for a lot of fancy decoration. One of the things I have never really understood is the business of covering the surface of a bed with rows and stacks of pillows. The other day when we were in Sears, I saw a bed on display that was so covered with pillows, that there was hardly room to sit on the corner of the bed. It was so over the top, I wished that I would have taken a photo of it.
The bed in our motel room in Prince George was modest in comparison. It only had two rows of pillows and a log-like pillow thing thrown in for good measure. (See photo) So as soon as we were going to lay down on the bed, two pillows and the log-like thing were thrown on the floor to get them out of the way.
Once I was on the bed I noticed another disconcerting thing, the pillow, I had allowed to stay in place was so thick, solid, and firm, it was uncomfortable to use. When lying on my back, it forced my neck into an "L" shaped configuration.
The result was a very uncomfortable night, most of which I spent trying to sleep with no pillow at all. So much for the fancy pillow display on the bed.
Yesterday, while we were out shopping, we came upon a sale of cheap, thin, pillows for $3.99. I think it must have been fate that made me walk close to the pillow display. Joan and I each bought one and walked them through the motel lobby to our room. When we were asked about the pillows we were carrying, by the clerk in the lobby, I explained that the ones in the room were just too firm and thick.
I was a lot more comfortable with my new wimpy pillows. The bottom photo shows the bed with our newly purchased pillows.

Thursday 24 January 2013

Piles of Snow

These photos are mostly for those who live in more southern climes. Those who live in the interior of BC have seen it all before. Because McBride is a small village we don't have any really large parting lots that need to be cleared of snow, and when we do go up to Prince George in the winter, I am always a little surprised at how high snow piles are. How do they get them piled so high?
I parked my truck in front of the one pile so you could get a sense of the scale.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Lucky Ravens

I spotted these Ravens in the Costco parking lot. It looks like some unfortunate shopper accidentally spilled their carton of blueberries. Their loss was the raven's gain.

Monday 21 January 2013

Yumm, Peanut Butter

    The small log I have hanging from the birch tree, that I keep slathered with peanut butter is the most popular spot in the yard.  I put the peanut butter out to feed the birds, but it also attracts deer and the greedy squirrel that tries to cover the peanut butter with lichen.  I caught this doe smacking her lips after tonguing the peanut butter from the holes in the log.

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Sunday 20 January 2013

Hole in the Ice

    It’s really amazing, how new discoveries pop up in everyday living.  I have had my pond for probably 20 years now, and have been pretty observant of it throughout the years and seasons.  A couple of days ago, as Joan and I were walking along the trail that borders the pond, I noticed a hole in the ice.  It was out in the middle of the pond.  I immediately recognized this as strange occurrence, one that I had never seen before.
    Yesterday, I walked out to the hole to take a closer look.  I wasn’t too worried about falling through the ice, because I knew the ice must be at least 6 inches (15 cm) thick.  Once I got to the hole it looked like the ice was more like 8 inches (20 cm) thick,  but there was an actual hole all the way through the ice to the pond water below, because I saw two very tiny fish,  about as thick as a pencil lead, dart away when I got close.
    I can only assume that there is a spring under my pond that is pumping out warmish water.  That water rises to the top, slowly causing the ice to melt through.  This is something I had never seen on the pond before, and I don’t know if it is just a new development because of a change in subsurface hydrology, or if there was just something different about this year’s weather, that made it noticeable.  What ever the reason, I think it is an extremely interesting development.   

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Saturday 19 January 2013

"I've Got Blisters on My Fingers"

    Some of the best fun I have had in my life, has been playing music with people.  Unfortunately, it is now something I rarely have an opportunity to do.  In high school, I sang and played a banjo in a folk group.  At university, I did vocals and played rhythm guitar in a rock group that concentrated on the music of the  Beatles, and the Byrds. 
    There for a while during the 80’s and early 90’s, a lot of my friends who lived in McBride were musicians, so there was a lot of playing during our get togethers, but after they all moved away, my guitar has led a pretty lonely life.   Once a year,  I got to jam with people at a New Year’s Eve party, but even that came to an end.
    On Thursday night, I attended a meeting for the Whistle Stop Gallery.  Across from me sat a new resident of McBride, who was a musician, who had just made an album, which I had read about in the newspaper.  As I was leaving the meeting, I passed him talking to someone on the sidewalk, and I picked up enough of the conversation to conclude that he was looking for people to play music with.  I jumped into the conversation and told him I was really interested in doing music, and he invited me to a “jam” to be held Friday night at the curling lounge starting at 7:00.
    Just as a bit of an explanation to those who don’t know, curling is a strange sport played on ice.  A heavy round object with a handle called the rock, is glided toward a bullseye on the far end of the ice.  People with brooms frantically sweep in front of the rock, trying to maneuver it so that it stops close to the center of the target.  The curling lounge is where curlers all hang out socializing.
    I was excited all day long in anticipation of playing music.  Yesterday afternoon, I took my acoustic guitar off of the wall where it hangs, and gave it a strum.  I was shocked by how loud it sounded, having only been playing my tiny ukelele for a month.  I tuned it up, and then got my mandolin out and gave it a tuning.
    In my mind, I had imagined that Brad Strang, the musician I had met the night before, had made some kind of arrangement to use the lounge, and there would just be a few fellow musicians there, but at 7:00, when I walked through the doors of the curling lounge, there were no musicians there, just curlers, sitting around talking.  I realized that things were not going to unfold  the way I had imagined.
    Luckily, most of the curlers were folks I knew, and a huge percentage of them were people I used to work with for years at the Forest Service, so I waited around and joined into the conversations.  Eventually, a couple of people came in with some instruments, so I began to feel a little more secure about the “jam” actually happening.
    After all these years of living in McBride, I am still not used to “McBride time”.  If someone states a time that something is going to happen, it really means that it will happen 30-60 minutes after the given time.  Joan and I are always the first people at an event, because for some reason, we still show up at the given time.
    Anyway, around 8:00, the four of us who had come to play, opened our cases, and withdrew our instruments.  I was quite surprised to see 2 dobros in the mix.  In all the time I have been playing with people, I have never seen anyone bring a dobro, and here two people had brought them.  There were also three guitars, one of which was a 12 string, and I had my mandolin.  
    I had just met Brad Strang the night before, he was the main player, who initiated most of the music.  He played guitar and banjo.   I had never met Bob Matchett, who was the dobro player.  Lelani Arris had the 12 string and the other dobro, which she was trying to learn.  I played mostly the mandolin, which is not my main instrument, but is easy for me to play as long as the songs were in the key of G, and most of them were.
    The main problem with jamming with unfamiliar musicians, is finding common or easy songs, that everyone can play along with.  I felt embarrassed that my mind was so blank.  In my life, I must have played hundreds of songs in the key of G, but last night, my brain could only come up with a handful.
    One of the things I really like about jamming is how it makes me “think on my feet”.  A lot of the music is unfamiliar, and it means constant concentration to get the chord changes, words and rhythms all going, but the challenge is great fun at the same time.
    The curlers seemed to enjoy having us in the corner playing away, I sure had a good time doing it, and meeting some new local musicians, and I hope that our jam last night was just the beginning of something that will continue through the year.  I am going to work up a few songs and be better prepared for the next jam.  

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Friday 18 January 2013

Sit and Deliver

   I may be the only one in the world who is bothered by this, but since it is me that is doing the writing here, I am going to voice my displeasure.  Since my adolescence, I have been a news junky.  Since we got satellite TV many years ago, the cable news networks have been my stations of default.  
    Lately, things have been happening to those news networks that I really don’t like.  CBC (the Canadian Broadcasting Corp) had always been one of my favorite station for news, now it is one of the best examples of what I don’t like.   ( I am discounting the US networks since I wrote them off years ago).
Here are the trends I don’t like:
  1. All the small talk, and chat.  I am assuming most people who tune into the news, do so, to actually hear the news, and not to listen in to inane and meaningless conversations between the presenters.   Sometimes interaction between news presenters is witty and real, but what I am talking about, is the scheduled and forced banter.  Drop it and get to the news.
  2. Standing Up.  Some time ago, some program manager came up with the idea that news presenters should stand up and walk around instead of sitting at a desk.  Now, one by one, the news stations are adopting the habit.  To me it seems contrived and forced, something that the program manager told the presenters to do.  I was very sorry, to see BBC, (top photo), one of my favorite news stations, now conforming to the trend.  Instead of pacing around, relax, have a seat, and just give us the news.
  3. All the distractions.  This complaint I aim at CBC (2nd photo).  A couple of years ago, they seemingly decided to outdo other news broadcasts with all color and flash.  The banner headlines that used to slowly flow across the bottom of the screen, suddenly zipped rapidly into place, then zoomed away as the next headline slammed into place.  Most of he news presenters seem loud and have an edge to there voice, which is now accompanied with background music whose beat booms away to intensify the sizzle of the presentation.  Colors flash and streak across the screen.  It is all very distracting and irritating.

    I would now like to compliment CTV, for not totally jumping on the bandwagon (Photo at the end of the blog).  They did go for the two presenter trend, but at least they let them sit down.  Their news is not accompanied with a lot of flash and noise, it is given in a calm, thoughtful, and straight forward way, which I appreciate.
    Being the realist that I am, I realize that is probably only a matter of time before they too cave in to the trends and make their news readers wander around a brightly colored studio making small talk to each other.  I wonder where I will go for news then?

Paintings and old blogs @

Thursday 17 January 2013

Downloading Mountain Lion


  Some genius at Apple had a great idea to save the company money and hassle.  It was that when they release their new operating system called “Mountain Lion”, instead of having it available on a CD rom, they would just have everyone download it from the net.  Doing this probably did save Apple a lot of money and hassle, but a lot of the hassle they saved has been transferred into my life.
    I have been wanting to upgrade to Mountain Lion for quite a while, and the other day, I decided that I had put it off long enough, and I courageously pressed the online button to start the download.  I did this at 1:30 in the afternoon.  It was a huge file to download, 4.47 GB, especially with the internet system I am on.
    As soon as it started the download a little line graph appeared on my screen.  Not the one in the lower photo, but one that only visually showed the progress of the download without any numerical information.  I walked away from the computer to do some work outside.  I knew it would take a while, and wasn’t about to sit there and watch.
    In a couple of hours, I went upstairs to check how it was doing.  The little line graph looked exactly the same as it did when I left.  I knew this was a bad sign, but by this point it was too late to do anything.  I checked again 8 hours later, when I was getting ready to go to bed.  This time there was a bit of a change in the line graph, so  I thought I would just let the thing crank away overnight while I slept.
    The next morning, when I got up to check the progress, instead of the graph, I found a message on my screen.  It told me that my download had been interrupted, and had been discontinued and that I should check my internet connection.  My internet was working, so I figured that something must have happened over night.
    While I was on the computer, I checked my mail, and there in my Inbox was the receipt from Apple thanking me for the $20 purchase of Mountain Lion.  There was also a link I could press to “Report a Problem”.  I immediately pressed the link, but instead of actually letting me report a problem, it just gave a lot of information on how various problems might be solved.
    In pursuing a solution, I somehow ended up back to the order Mountain Lion screen, so I pressed the “Download button”, thinking that perhaps, starting to download in the morning, may go quicker, since there might be less internet traffic.
    About an hour went by with Lion downloading, when McBride experienced a power failure.  This of course, shut down my computer and my download.  The power cut did go back on, but it meant, I had to start all over.
    Again, I went exploring on my computer, and ended up in iTunes, and a different download screen for Lion.  For a third time, I started to down load.  This time, with the screen you see in the lower photo, I could see and read my “progress” (probably not the best word for this situation).  It gave an estimated time to complete the down load which kept changing every mili-second, with estimates that ranged between “23 hours” and “I day 4 hours.”  This screen also gave me a button by which I could pause the down load and start it up again, without loosing what I had already received.  This gave me a bit more control over over the download.
    The internet speeds seemed fairly good so I let the download continue throughout most of the afternoon, but I paused it in the evening, when a lot of people would be home and downloading movies and things.  I thought if I woke up in the middle of the night, I would start downloading again, when there would be less traffic.
    True to my plan, at 1:30 AM, I woke up to go to the bathroom, and I woke up my computer.  When my eyes finally adjusted to the extremely bright screen in the middle of the night, I pressed the Resume Download button, then went downstairs to the bathroom.  On my trip back to the bed, I checked the download speed and was horrified at what it said.
    I was getting readings like, “20 days”, “14 days”,  and “!6 days,”  This little project was beginning to feel like a life long commitment.  I hit the “Pause” button to stop the download and walked in and got into bed.  Laying there in the dark, I was suddenly aware of the sound of my backup hard drive grinding away.  I remembered how whenever it was working, my internet speed plummeted to close to nothing, so I got back out of bed and went back to the computer and turned off my backup hard drive, then started the Lion download again.  It was a whole lot faster, so I left it on and went back to bed.
    This morning when I woke up, I was almost afraid to check my download graph, but was pleasantly surprise, by what I saw, (it is the bottom photo), only 6 more hours to complete.  That was back within the realm of a lifetime, so I let it continue until it started to slow down again later in the morning.  I will continue to check the speed throughout the day, if nothing else, I will continue the download late tonight.
    What a hassle this has been.  My hope now, is that I eventually get Mountain Lion  downloaded, that it was worth all the time it took, and that my internet company doesn’t ding me a lot of extra money for all the time I used to get it downloaded.

For a look at my paintings or to read the blog archive go to:

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Shopping in Prince George

     Saturday, I wrote about our drive up to Prince George to replenish our supplies.  Today, I thought I would elaborate a bit about our actual shopping.  Usually, our main Prince George destination is Costco.  Costco one of those big box membership stores, with a wide variety of good quality items at good prices.
    Before we got to Costco, we had to make a couple of other stops.  I bought a tube of Sap Green acrylic paint at Micheal’s, then purchased a couple of pairs of jeans at Mark’s Work Wearhouse.  While we were in the neighborhood, I wanted to stop in at Canadian Tire because in their flyer, which accompanies the local paper, they had advertised some felt pack boots for only $44.00.  
       Once in Canadian Tire, I had trouble finding the area where the boots were.  When I finally found it, I was surprised to see an actual sales person there restocking the boot section, so instead of spending time hunting around I just asked her,  “I am looking for those felt pack boots, that you have on sale?”
    “Oh, the ones for $44?”
    “Yeah, those are the ones,” I replied.
    “Well, we only have one pair; size 7,” she informed me.
    I looked down at my size 12 feet, and felt a bit mislead by their flyer.  I would have walked right out of the store in a huff, but I had already picked up a pack of peanuts for the birds, and had to stand in line behind a guy buying a gun cabinet, and a 5 gallon container of oil for a diesel engine.
    Once out of the Canadian Tire parking lot, we headed to our main shopping goal--Costco.  Luckily, we remembered to bring our shopping list, so we had some direction.  Joan immediately went over to the pharmacy section to get her prescription going.  The pharmacy at Costco, is truly amazing.  Pharmaceuticals at Costco cost between a third and a half of what they cost elsewhere.
    I wheeled the cart toward the food area, looking for free food samples.   Luyba Milne, who had accompanied us on our PG trip, headed out on her own.
    Forty minutes later, our shopping cart was full, and I went through the cashier lineup.  I arrived on the other side, with my wallet $300 poorer.  It was noon, so we decided to eat at Costco.  Lyuba had planned to treat us to a fancy lunch somewhere, but generally, on our whirlwind trips to PG, we opt for speed in our lunches, rather than fine dining.  Time is important so that we can make the long trip back to McBride before it starts getting dark.
    I picked out a table under an umbrella, and guarded by our shopping carts, while Joan and Lyuba went to order the food.  The sandwiches were tasty, and soon all that was left of them was the paper they were wrapped in.  
    After Costco, we went across the snowy parking lot to Winners and the Future Shop.  Then at 1:30, with all our shopping done, the back of the car all full of our purchases, and our wallets considerably lighter,  we were on Hwy. 16, heading east, back toward McBride.

See my paintings and the blog archive at:

Tuesday 15 January 2013

In the Pink

 Joan interrupted me around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, by saying, “There’s really weird light outside.”
    I glanced out the window, then grabbed my camera, put on my coat and boots, and scampered out to record the scene.  It was a strange world.  Everything was bathed in pink.
    These are two of the photos I took.  I haven’t retouched them or changed the color, this is the way it was.  Usually, I can understand the sunsets, and why they look the way they do.  Either the sun is hitting the top of the cloud or the bottom,  but I couldn’t really figure this one out.  There was low cloud, and the sun must have been hitting the top of it, but why the sun turned them this color, I haven’t a clue.  Of course, all the snow was happy to reflect the color of the cloud.

Paintings and Blog archive at

Monday 14 January 2013

Robson Valley Polar Bear

    Residents of the Robson Valley don’t get household mail delivery.  We have to go into McBride to the Canada Post Office to pick up our mail.  The fact that everyone has to get to the post office means that it becomes a meeting place for people.  The other day, when I was in the post office, I ran into an acquaintance I will call “N” (not her real initial).  
    N grew up in Europe, and immigrated to McBride in the 1980’s.  She is a spritely and fit retiree, who can be seen energetically striding down the sidewalks with her daypack for shopping.  She lives in a senior apartment complex in McBride.  I remember reading an article about her a few years ago, about her going for a “polar bear” swim I think in Horseshoe Lake, at the beginning of whatever year that was.
    Since this was the beginning of a new year, when I ran into her at the post office, I asked her if she did a polar bear swim this year.
    She shook her head, and sadly said, “I couldn’t find anyone to cut a hole in the ice.”
    Trying to come up with a witty response, I asked, “Why don’t you just roll in the snow?”    
    To my surprise, she answered, “I do.  I usually wait until everyone in the complex is asleep, then I put on my bathing suit, and I sneak outside and roll in the snow.”
    I didn’t know how to respond to that.  N is one tough lady.

To see how my current painting, "Birch Bark" is proceeding, go to my website and click on "Current Work".  

Sunday 13 January 2013

Forty Years Ago

    It was forty years ago today, that I married my best friend, Joan.  We’ve been through a lot over those forty years, but I am happy to report that she is not only my life companion, but still my best friend.

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Saturday 12 January 2013

Winter Drive to Prince George

     Driving the 135 miles (217 km) to Prince George in the winter, is not something that I enjoy.  The days are short, and we usually like to leave at 7:00 which means, that the first part of the trip has to be done in the dark.
     So right away you are faced with two hazards:  night driving and winter road conditions.  Night driving intensifies the possibility of animal collisions, so you have to continually monitor the side of the road looking for the reflection of animal eyes, to help you prepare, in case one suddenly comes out in front of you.  In the winter, Highway 16 is almost always covered with hard packed snow with "slippery conditions".  
    We had originally planned to go to Prince George earlier in the week, but we postponed until after the highway crews had a chance to plow away most of the snow.  Yesterday, all of the fresh snow had been plowed to the sides of the road, leaving only the hard packed ice on the highway's surface.
    Our car has an outdoor temperature reading on the dash, and I always find it interesting to discover how much the temperature changes along the deep valleys and hills that we snake along on our way to Prince.  When we started out, the temperature in McBride was -16C (+3F), along the drive it climbed to -14C (+7), then dipped to -22C (-8F), then in Prince George it was -17C (+1F).
     We did see some wildlife along the way, fortunately, the 4 moose we saw on the way up to PG, all stayed on the side of the road.  The only other wildlife was the birds.  We saw a great gray owl sitting on a power line, a raven, successfully begging for food at the Slim Creek rest area, and of course lots of "suicide" birds.
     "Suicide birds" is the term I use for the small flocks of birds that gather on the highway to eat the sand that has been put down to give traction to drivers.  Birds need to swallow small rock particles so they can grind up their food.  During the winter, just about all the sand is covered with snow, except for that spread on the highways, so they congregate there.  Usually, they fly away shortly before the vehicles get to them, but it is not unusual for a few of the late flyers to get hit.  I usually try to flash my lights or honk my horn, but that doesn't always get them going.  Fortunately, I don't think I hit any yesterday.
     The top photo shows the sunshine just starting to hit the peak of one of the hills on our way up to Prince George.  I took the bottom photo on our drive back to McBride.

     You can see my paintings and read my older blogs at:


Thursday 10 January 2013

Exercise Galore

      The photo shows what our picket fence looked like after yesterday’s snowfall.  My winters contain a lot of “down time”.  Most days, I don’t do a lot of physical work.  We do, usually, walk the trail twice a day, but I don’t get a lot of other exercise.
    When people learn that I shovel my 75m (245ft) driveway, they always say, “Why don’t you get a snowblower?”  My reply is, “but it is the only exercise I get in the winter.”   So I do look forward to the snowfalls we get.
    The problem arises when we get a big snow fall.  Yesterday, I woke up to 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) of new snow, depending on where you dig.  I knew I had a big job of shoveling in front of me, as soon as I got all the usual morning stuff out of the way; breakfast, our walk, painting and the blog.
    Yesterday, the walk around the trail meant snowshoeing.  The snow was really light and fluffy, and breaking trail with the snowshoes, meant that I was carrying extra weight on each foot, and was sinking about 8 inches with each step I took.  By the time we got back from our “walk”, I was knackered.  I somehow managed to call up enough energy to walk upstairs and paint my morning square on my current painting.
    Once that was done, I had to face shoveling the driveway.  I had just done that the day before, clearing 4-5 inches of snow.  It was a whole lot harder yesterday.  Not only was there a lot more snow to move with each shovelful, I had to move it higher and further up the piles that line the driveway, to get it out of the way.
    I did manage to get most of the driveway cleared yesterday, and have just the “turn around” spot to clear today.  We aren’t supposed to get any more snow for a while, so hopefully, I will be able to rest up a bit before it all happens again.
    he photo shows what our picket fence looked like after yesterday’s snowfall.  My winters contain a lot of “down time”.  Most days, I don’t do a lot of physical work.  We do, usually, walk the trail twice a day, but I don’t get a lot of other exercise.
    When people learn that I shovel my 75m (245ft) driveway, they always say, “Why don’t you get a snowblower?”  My reply is, “but it is the only exercise I get in the winter.”   So I do look forward to the snowfalls we get.
    The problem arises when we get a big snow fall.  Yesterday, I woke up to 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) of new snow, depending on where you dig.  I knew I had a big job of shoveling in front of me, as soon as I got all the usual morning stuff out of the way; breakfast, our walk, painting and the blog.
    Yesterday, the walk around the trail meant snowshoeing.  The snow was really light and fluffy, and breaking trail with the snowshoes, meant that I was carrying extra weight on each foot, and was sinking about 8 inches with each step I took.  By the time we got back from our “walk”, I was knackered.  I somehow managed to call up enough energy to walk upstairs and paint my morning square on my current painting.
    Once that was done, I had to face shoveling the driveway.  I had just done that the day before, clearing 4-5 inches of snow.  It was a whole lot harder yesterday.  Not only was there a lot more snow to move with each shovelful, I had to move it higher and further up the piles that line the driveway, to get it out of the way.
    I did manage to get most of the driveway cleared yesterday, and have just the “turn around” spot to clear today.  We aren’t supposed to get any more snow for a while, so hopefully, I will be able to rest up a bit before it all happens again.

     To see what my paintings look like go to:

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Snow Snake

     We have been getting dumps of snow over the last two days.  It came down slow and gently, so all the trees and bushes are blanketed.  It has created a real fantasy land.  Yesterday, when Joan and I were on the trail, I noticed this long "snake" of snow draped over a branch.  I guess the snow became too heavy and started to slowly slide off of its support, but the it snowflakes had enough cohesion so instead of dropping to the ground, it just hung there.

NOTE: it looks like my old blog program has quit working for me, so I am trying out this one. Using this one, you will be able to post a comment if you wish.