Sunday 31 March 2013

Eggs for Easter

    This is about as close as we are going to come to Easter eggs this year.   These were hidden by our 3 chickens instead of the Easter Bunny.  I found them tucked behind the pony wall that is part of the foundation for our carport.
    I think the discolored egg was one they must have laid last year.  When the chickens came upon it this spring, they decided to add to it.  I never take all of the eggs, I always leave 2 or 3 behind, so the chickens continue to lay in the same spot.  If I take them all, they go off in a huff, and find somewhere else to hide their next batch.

To read blogs from the last two years or to view my paintings, go to:

Saturday 30 March 2013

Daffodils Surface

    About 3 weeks ago, when I was in Indiana, I blogged a photo of the daffodils that were already blooming down there.  I am happy to report that the daffodils, in the small flower garden next to our sidewalk, got tired of waiting under the snow and decided to show themselves.
    We have had a week of daytime melting temperatures (+12C, 54F).  A thick blanket of snow still covers our whole yard, but there are pockets of melted areas around the edges of the house and sidewalk.  I noticed yesterday that the ice on my pond has started to take on a light greenish hue, all of these things give me hope that things are finally moving in the right direction.

To read blogs from 2011-12 or to view my paintings, go to:

Friday 29 March 2013

My Emergency Reading Glasses

    Even after more than a decade of needing them to read, I am still constantly going off and forgetting to take my glasses with me.  My distant vision is still very good, like the old joke says, “my eyes are fine, but my arms are too short”.  Yep, its the close up stuff that I can’t see.  Fortunately, I don’t need prescription glasses, just normal everyday reading glasses off of the shelf.
    Of course, reading glasses don’t do me a whole lot of good, if I go off and forget to bring them with me.  Luckily, I have discovered a trick that can be used to read in an emergency.  Here’s what I do:
I take my hand and make a tiny little hole using my index finger.  This I put over the text I want to read, and then I lower an eye to the finger.  Looking through the small hole allows me to read.
    This is how I understand it.  As we grow older, the eye loses strength, to the point where it can no longer adjust to focusing on close-up items.  Making the tiny hole with your finger, in effect does the same thing as creating another pupil for your eye, and it allows the image in the hole to reflect, in focus, on the retina in the back of your eye.
    People often kid me when I do my finger trick to read, but it works, and I like to think that it might be a good thing to know in an emergency.  It works so well I thought I would take out a patent on it, but I will give it out to you for free.  Give it a try.

To read my older blogs or to view my paintings, go to:

Thursday 28 March 2013

A Mess With A Purpose

    When Joan noticed the pile of stuff in front of my computer, she immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was just another one of my messes. (“How can you work like this, David?”)
I had to then explain to her that it was just my attempt to keep Lucifer from blocking out my computer monitor by standing in front of it.  As you can see, it worked.  If Lucy does get interested in the moving cursor on the screen, she, a least, has to now watch it from the side, which allows me to still see the monitor.

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

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Hungry Deer

    Willows have branches and twigs that snap off easily.  Weeks ago, when I sawed off the big willow branches that were overhanging my roof, I bucked up the big chunks of the branch, but left all the smaller bits, that had broken off when the branches fell, on the snow that covered my roof.  Now, that snow is finally melting away, leaving a big tangle of willow twigs on the roof.
    The other day, I got up on the roof, and swept the snow free twigs off.  As I was doing it, I kind of hoped that the deer would find them on the ground.  I knew they are very hungry this time of year.  They have pretty much eaten everything around here that is fit to eat, and I figured they would be happy to have a new supply of willow, which they really like to browse on.
    It wasn’t but 30 minutes, after I was done with the roof, that the deer showed up and started munching.  I took these two photos, while standing in the same spot in our kitchen, showing the side window and the front window.    They chomped at the willows for quite a long time, and came back yesterday for more.
    Today, the snow on the roof is almost entirely gone, freeing up some more willows that I hadn’t been able to sweep off the other day.  As soon as I get done writing this, I will go up and sweep off a new supply for the hungry deer.

To view my paintings or to explore my older blogs, go to:

Tuesday 26 March 2013

McBride, Community of Salvagers

    I have sometimes read of isolated communities along dangerous rocky shorelines, that benefit from the ships that occasionally crash into those rocks.  Word quickly scatters through the community, and the residents rush to the sea to salvage the items from the ship that are washed to the shore by the waves.  I have often thought that McBride is similar to those sea coast communities.
    The Robson Valley offers no  dangerous seacoast, but McBride does sometimes benefit from the dangerous highway that winds through the mountainous terrain.  During the time I have lived here, I have often heard of wrecked transport trucks, or freight trains that have lost their loads, and those loads were often salvaged by local people.
    Living, as we do, away from town, and the quick communication network of local gossip, we rarely benefit from these accidents.  Things happen fast.  I do still have a couple pieces of thick watercolor-like paper that was given to me, that had been in some overturned truck, but it was so long ago, I have forgotten the details.  I have had it for decades now, and still haven’t figured out what I could do with it.
    When I was building my house, I was very regretful, about failing to hear sooner about an overturned truck carrying building lumber.  I don’t remember if that was a legitimate “salvage” or not; quite often the spills end up scattered, down mountain slopes, and are not really worth the effort of insurance companies to collect, so they are left for local people to pick up.
    Last night, as I was trying to get to the end of a pretty bad movie that I had recorded, Joan returned from her knitting group.  She was carrying a plastic bag, and she was all excited and had a story to tell.
    Apparently, a truck carrying frozen bun dough for a Subway restaurant, had had an accident on Hwy. 16, and, I guess, because of the accident, the frozen unbaked bread dough, could not be safely used by the restaurant, so it was open to salvage.  
    I don’t know, how much of this frozen bread dough ended up in McBride, but there must have been a lot.  The people opened their freezer to Joan, to give her the dough, wanted her to take more than she did.  As it is, I guess we now have about 40 sticks of the frozen whole wheat bun dough in our freezer.
    I guess everyone is happy to receive free stuff, I sure am.  I am very anxious to try to bake one of our newly acquired subway buns, but unfortunately, the replacement bottom element of our oven, has not yet arrived, so I will have to wait.

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

Monday 25 March 2013


    I seem to be constantly attracted to birch bark.  That is the subject of my current painting.  The other day, on our walk, I happened to notice this cluster or lichen that was growing on a birch that was right beside the trail. 

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

Sunday 24 March 2013

Geese Return to the Robson Valley

    I have been hearing the squawking of geese for a couple of weeks, but I hadn’t really seen any until Friday, when we drove into McBride.  There they were in the field that lies between the Fraser River and the McBride townsite.  Its always a puzzle to me, what they are eating.  The fields are still snow covered and the lakes and river are still ice covered.

To read my older blogs or to view my current painting, got to:

Saturday 23 March 2013

Grilling a Pizza

    Every Friday, Joan and I make ourselves a pizza.  We have been doing this for decades, and pretty much have it down to a fine art.  This Friday, we had a bit of a problem we had to deal with.  The lower heating element on our oven had burned out.  It meant that we could not make our pizza in the regular way.  What to do, what to do?
    We could either not have the pizza, or we could find some other way to cook it.  Since not having one seemed too much of a sacrifice, we opted for making one, then figuring out some other means of heating it.  We had used our grill once before with less than successful results, but the thought of going without a pizza seemed so extreme, we took an optimistic stance, and decided to try using the grill once again.
    We made the pizza, and I preheated the grill.  Joan told me to keep a close eye on it, so I put it in and decided to check it in 10 minutes.  She checked it in 7 minutes, and the crust on the bottom was already burning, so I hurriedly took it out.  The crust was burnt, but the top was uncooked.
    Still operating in the optimistic mode, we then decided since it was only the bottom element in our electric range that was burned out, we could put the unfinished pizza in the oven, and the top element, should cook the top of the pizza.  This we did.
    Before long, the top of our pizza was burning a dark golden brown, and so we decided it must be done, so we took it out of the oven.  When I was cutting the pizza into slices, I could tell from the way the knife cut through the crust that it was not at all crusty, as it should be, but we were hungry and had run out of ideas, so we dished it up and sat down to eat it.
    It was not the best pizza we had ever made.  The bottom of the crust was burnt black, and the middle was uncooked.  Despite, its imperfections, we were able to continue with our Friday night tradition, and hoped that the bottom oven element, that should be freighting its way to us, arrives before next Friday night.
    While on the subject of pizza, a few years ago, I did make 2 “how to” videos of our thin crust pizza and put them on youtube.  If you are curious, here are the links:

Friday 22 March 2013

Lyuba's Website

    If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know that David and Lyuba Milne are close friends.  Although Lyuba has had a very long background in the arts, it wasn’t until 2001, that she got her hands and creativity on clay, and it changed the direction of her life.  She was visiting a friend who was a potter, and while there, she was encouraged to take some clay and make something.  That humble initiation was the start of a great passion and an explosion of creativity.
    While most works in clay are done on a potter’s wheel, Lyuba has instead, chosen the technique of hand-building for her works.  Even through she has gone through a tremendous diversity in developing her art, her creativity and talent have been consistently very high.
    For some time now, she has been after David to make her a website.  David also, is one of those people who always does everything to maximum ability and taste.  For months, they experimented on, and worked on, creating the best back ground for photographing Lyuba’s ceramic creations, and once they got striking photos, Dave spent time designing the website.
    Yesterday, I got an email saying that Lyuba’s website was up.  I took a look, and it is a beautiful introduction to her work.  I urge you to take some time and view it.  It is at:

To visit my older blogs or to view my paintings go to:

Thursday 21 March 2013

Absorbing Heat

    I have always been fascinated at how a bit of dark color can absorb heat.  When Mac, our dog, used to lie in the sun, and I would put my hand on his black fur, I was always surprised at how hot it felt.  I used to have a lightbulb-shaped gadget with four little metal flags, on spokes inside, that would spin around in the sunshine.  It was only the fact that each flag was white on one side and black on the other that gave it the power to spin.
    I noticed yesterday when we went out for our morning walk that there was some leaves lying on the top of the snow.  We had had a lot of wind the night before, but I found it surprising that the wind had found some leaves to blow around, since the trees have been naked for months now, but at any rate, there were some leaves sitting there on the surface of the snow.
    As that day progressed, the sky remained overcast, but the temperature got to be +4C (39 F).  This was not really a heat wave, so I was very surprised in the late afternoon, that those leaves, being darker in color, than the surrounding snow, had absorbed enough heat to melt about 1.5 inches (4 cm) down into the snow.  It would have made more sense to me if it had been a pebble or something heavier, but this was a feather-light leaf that had sunk, just because of the extra heat it had absorbed.

To visit my blog archive or to view my paintings, go to:

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Marauding Chickens

    Since the internal clock of the chickens has told them that spring is here, every day they are busy, meandering from place to place in the yard.  As they roam around, they are seeking places to do what chickens do, ie  scratching around in organic debris looking for tidbits to eat.  Because just about everything is covered with 2 feet of snow, it severely narrows their possibilities.  In fact, the only place that currently shows bare ground is a narrow strip that runs along the east side of our house.
    There the heat, from what little sunshine we have been getting, reflects off of the surface of the house and has melted the snow.  This little pocket has warmed up enough to encourage a few of the hearty early plants to stick their heads through the surface of the soil.
    Unfortunately, since this is the only suitable place for the chickens to scratch around in, a lot of those early plants, have really taken a beating, as the chickens rake through the soil.
    They say that its the early bird that gets the worm, but when there are chickens around, its the early plants that get the shredding.

To read my older blogs or to view my paintings, go to: 

Tuesday 19 March 2013

PG Trip

    For weeks we have been needing to go to Prince George for supplies.  Joan was going to go shopping when she took me up to my flight to Indiana, but the bad weather cancelled that trip and had me on the bus instead.  The same thing happened on my way back home from Indiana.  Since then, we have been watching the weather, hoping for a non-snow day so we could drive the 135 miles (217 km) and finally get resupplied.  Today was sunny and clear so we took advantage of it.
    On the way up, Highway 16,  between Crescent Spur and Purden was icy.  I was surprised to see an adventurer with backpack on his back, on a bicycle making the trip.  When I see them in the summer, I think they are crazy, having to pump up and down all the steep terrain.  It seemed even crazier this time of year, with ice on the road, practically no shoulder, and having to pull off an camp in the snow every night.  
    I also saw a robin, and felt pretty sorry for it too.  Not many worms to be had this time of year.
    The photo is the information kiosk at the Slim Creek rest station.  It didn’t appear that too many people fought there way through the 3 foot (91cm) snow drifts to read the signs.  Its probably a good thing, looking at the tremendous weight that would be hovering above them, on the roof of the kiosk.

To read my older blogs or to view my paintings, go to:

Monday 18 March 2013

Snow, Snow, Go Away

   With spring due to come on the scene in just a couple of days (March 20), we seem to still be in the clutches of winter.  Instead of +4 C (39F), which is the normal for this time of year, the daytime temperatures are a bit colder, hovering around freezing.   The big thing disappointment for me is all the snow that’s still on the ground.   I would think that by the middle of March, we would be seeing some sign of melting.
    This morning, as new snow was still falling, I carefully treaded my way along the narrow path that we have made through our pasture, so that I could measure the snow.  If you get your foot a bit too close to the edge of the trodden path, you slip sideways into the unpacked snow and your foot disappears up to the top of your boot.
    When I got to the place I generally measure snow depth, I took my ruler and slid it down through the snow until I hit solid ground.  As you can see by reading the left hand side, we still have 26 inches (66 cm) of the white stuff still blanketing the area.  While I like snow a lot better than rain, I must confess I am getting tired of seeing it, and lust for the sight of color in my surroundings.

To read my 2011-12 blogs or to view my paintings, go to:

Sunday 17 March 2013

Saving Daylight

    I am really starting to notice the change brought about by the switch to Daylight Savings time.  During the winter on Friday at 3:30 PM, when we usually start working on our weekly pizza, it is dark outside.   The other day, as I was rolling out the dough, light was streaming through the kitchen window.  
    We generally go to visit with the Milnes on Saturday at 7 in the evening.  All through the winter we made the drive in the dark. Yesterday, instead of a night drive, we are driving in the light.  
    We got a dump of snow yesterday and as we made our way to Milnes, I spotted two figures walking down the unplowed road.  As we got closer, we could see it was Trevor and Norma out for an evening walk.  They stood out so brightly against the grey landscape, that I just had to take a photo.

To read older blogs or to view my paintings, go to:

Saturday 16 March 2013

Cold Feet?

    The other morning when Joan and I returned from our walk, we found Lucifer on top of the couch with her feet all tucked under her.  I hadn’t yet built a fire in the stove, so perhaps her feet were cold.

To read my older blogs or to view my paintings, go to:

Friday 15 March 2013

Winter Keeps Hanging On

    When I took off for my trip to Indiana, I was hoping that during my absence, Spring would start showing itself in the Robson Valley.  Maybe, some of the snow would begin to melt.  Now that I am back, and looking around, it is pretty clear that not much progress has been made.  Things are pretty much the same.  There is still about 20 inches (50 cm) of snow on the ground, some of the snow melts, but it is frequently replaced with new snow.
    Speaking of new snow, we got some more overnight, so I am about to go out and do some damage control on our driveway.  It has been getting difficult to get in and out.  
    Here is a photo I took yesterday of the snow chute on Beaver Mountain.  Everything is all grey and moody. 

My older blogs and my paintings can be found at: 

Thursday 14 March 2013

Night Bus

    If I was a writer in search of interesting characters, I think I would spend nights, at the bus station of some a city.  Yesterday in my trip home, the last leg of my journey was a bus ride from Prince George to McBride.  After I de-boarded the plane in Prince George, I took the airport shuttle downtown to the bus station.  When I got there around 7:00 PM, I found the doors locked, and a young unshaven guy wearing a hoody, and an older aboriginal woman with a terrible bruise covering the right side of her face ,who were standing by the door, told me that it didn’t open until 8:00.  
    With an hour to kill, there was only one thing for me to do: eat.  I dragged my suitcase over to the nearby Red Robin restaurant, and had myself a barbecue turkey wrap.  Then as it approached 8:00, I meandered back to the bus station.  As I waited the 6 minutes for the doors to open, several other people joined me.  There was a young woman, who also had facial bruising, and enough bags to fill a Subaru, who said she was heading for Calgary, and a stout old man, who kept himself busy doing something on his smart phone.
    Finally a Greyhound employee opened the door and I followed him to the ticket booth, where he shortly opened the sliding barrier and I bought my ticket for the 9:15 Edmonton bus that stopped at McBride.  Then I settled down in one of the plastic chairs to watch, as the bus station slowly filled with people. 
    A bus from northern BC arrived and the lobby filled with zombie-like passengers, dragging their bundles and suitcases, already exhausted from a daylong bus journey.  Many of them sat down waiting for the same bus I was waiting for.  I overheard couple sitting next to me, say that they had just finished off working the night shift, then boarded the bus up north and rode on it all day.  They were headed for the Kelowna, which meant probably another 12 hour bus ride.  They could hardly keep their eyes open.
    There was an woman in her late 20’s, wearing what looked like a long black evening gown made of cheap polyester, generously low cut in the front, and running shoes, with her 12 year old daughter who wore a cheap lacy dress, like what used to be worn with petticoats, carrying on a conversation with a goateed horseshoer who could hardly carry his heavy ladened backpack, complete with a coil of 1 inch rope on the top.  They were all waiting for the doors to open so we could get on the east bound bus.
    I could hardly keep my eyes open, waiting for 9:15 to arrive.  When it finally did, nothing happened.  No announcement was made, everyone just continued to sit there.  I noticed an older man carrying a big bag of cheezies, and orange crush for the trip.  I tried to read some more of the novel, I had downloaded on my iPad.  I was a bit surprised, all of these people most of which seemed rather poor, all seemed to have smart phones, and were busy doing things on them.
    A few people wandered up to the ticket booth and came back with the information that the bus we were to take, was going to be an hour late in arriving in Prince George.  There was never any announcement made over the PA system.  I thought I should give Joan a call, since she was going to pick me up in McBride.  I called, but could only tell her we would be late, but I didn’t know how late.
    Our bus finally came and we loaded at 10:00.  It’s hard to get on a night bus without thinking about the incident that happened in Canada about 5 years ago.  On bus traveling late at night, a man with serious social problems, cut off the head of another passenger sleeping on the bus.  Last night, I chose a seat right up close to the bus driver, instead of entering the dark bowels of the back of the bus.
    I arrived in McBride at 12:25 AM, and was happy to see Joan there waiting for me.  It was nice to finally be home sleeping in my own bed.

For older blogs and to view my paintings go to:

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Heading North

The plan was that I would get up at 4:30 AM Indiana time, quietly dress, and sneak out the house and wait for my uncle, who was going to drive me to the airport. I was hoping my mother would just sleep through my departure, or at least, just stay in bed, so she could go back to sleep, but unfortunately, I was awakened at 4:00, by my mother, who called out to me that it was 4:00, even though i told her last night i was going to get up at 4:30. she was already up and in her wheelchair.

Getting up at 4:00 meant I had an extra half an hour to kill, so Mom, had me change a couple of light bulbs on two night lights that weren't working and trim off a hangnail that she had. Then I talked her into going back to bed, and I said my goodbye, and went out to stand in the dark to wait for my uncle. He got me to the Evansville airport in good time for my 6:00 departure and he wanted to wait around with me, but I talked him into driving back home and getting back in bed.

As I write this, I am sitting in the Seattle airport, which is a bit of a surprise, because I hadn't really looked at my itinerary until this morning, and thought I was flying from Chicago to Vancouver instead of Chicago-Seattle-Vancouver. So far I have made all my connections in good time.

Wow, now here I am in Vancouver, that was a short flight. I just have the flight to Prince George to do, then hopefully, there, I can get on the Greyhound bus to McBride, and then I should be home by midnight.

Vancouver Airport has free WiFi, so I can send this blog out from here. The photo show some daffodils that come up every year at an old homesite, at the end of one of my family's fields in Evansville. Now that I am heading back to McBride, it will be a while before I see daffodils again.

Tomorrow, if I am back home I will be blogging both at and this one. Take your pick.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

The Robin Expands It's Operation

Remember that crazy robin I told you about, that was pecking at it's reflection on the basement window? The other day when I went out on my mother's porch, I saw it sitting on the side view mirror of my mom's car. I thought it was a bit of a strange place for it to perch on, but I was happy to see it somewhere besides in front of the basement window.

Later in the day, I had to use the car to make a run to the grocery for some supplies. I noticed when I opened the car door that there was a splatter of bird poop on the floor beneath the mirror. Then when I was in the car and glanced over at the side view mirror, I noticed that there was a multitude of smudge marks on it's mirror surface, where the robin had been leaning over the top of the mirror, pecking at his reflection.

I hope you see the smudge marks in the mirror. All the lines you see are from the siding in the carport.

To read my older blog or to look at my paintings, go to:

Monday 11 March 2013

My Antonia

I read a lot and I always thought myself to be fairly knowledgeable in American literature, but I had never heard of the book, "My Antonia" (pronounced An'-ton-ee-ah, with the accent on the first syllable) or it's author, Willa Sibert Cather. A few weeks ago, they must have discussed it on "The Sunday Edition", the CBC radio program I generally listen to on Sunday morning. I missed the original segment on the book, but was listening the following Sunday, when they read all the letters that came in praising the book.

I was immediately eager to read it, both because of the glowing reviews it had been given, and also because it was about the settlement of the prairies by homesteaders and farmers who worked hard to make a new life for themselves, much like my grandmother.

I made note of its title, and later went to Apple's iBook site to see if it could be downloaded onto my iPad. I doubted it would be in the McBride library, because I had gotten the impression from the radio that it was an older book (written in 1918), that had sort of fallen off of the radar. I found it there at iBooks, and amazingly enough, it was free. I'm sure you can also download it from other book sites for free.

I immediately downloaded it and saved it for reading on my trip to Indiana. I started reading it in between my plane flights, and while in the air. I found it to be one of those wonderfully well written stories (I hesitate to even call it a story, because it seemed so real), about what life was like on the Nebraska plains before everything got developed.

It is simply and elegantly told, seemingly from the memory of a man about his arrival and life on his grandparent's farm/ranch in Nebraska, and the memorable girl, from a poor immigrant family who settled next door, who became his childhood friend, and remaining so throughout his life, despite their different life paths.

The novel is fairly short, and it is one of those books, I will long remember, for its simplicity in scope and the visual memories it gave me. I don't always read the Introduction to a book, but I did read this one, and I was glad I did, because it sort of sets everything up and gives a special view of the story. So if you decide to read it, be sure to read the introduction.

The photo shows an illustration from the book. In one section, Antonia is forced to leave school and work her family's farm.

To read my older blogs or to view my paintings visit:

Sunday 10 March 2013

The Birthday Cake

Friday was Minnie's 92nd birthday. She is my mother. A few days ago, I mentioned how, when she gets things in her head, it is easier to see them through rather than trying to convince her of a better way to do it. The birthday cake in the corner of the photo is an example.

The small birthday party we had for her, was on Friday evening. In a normal world, Friday morning would have been the logical time to make the cake, but on Wednesday morning, right after we had finished our breakfast, Mom wanted me to make a cake. Whenever I am with my mother, I always automatically slip into the obedient child mode. I didn't really question why I should make a cake, or ask what the cake was for, I just started making the cake.

She sat in her wheelchair, and told me where the box of yellow cake mix was, then told me to follow the directions. I did, but then, she diverted from what the directions said and had me get three cake pans from the cupboard, instead of the two that the directions called for.

When I dug out the three pans, I noticed that two were nine inch pans and the other was an eight inch pan. I mentioned this to Mom, but said it would be all right. I oiled the pans then added the batter into them. Dividing the batter three ways seemed to me to make each batch pretty thin, and I wondered how well they would rise, but mother knows best.

The directions on the box told me to preheat the oven, so I had the oven on ready to accept the cake pans. When I started to put the cake pans in, mom stopped me and said, "Oh, don't put them in yet, we are going to fix a casserole for supper, and we will bake everything at the same time.

Then I began to wonder how well the thin layer of cake batter on the three pans would weather the five hour wait before baking. "They will be alright," Mom assured me. I questioned her judgement later in the afternoon, when I took a glance at the stiffening batter. I could pick up the cake pans and hold them on their sides, and the batter did not run, it maintained its shape.

It is a tribute to modern food technology that when we finally did bake them, that they did manage to rise quite a bit, although the batter in the eight inch pan only got to be an half an inch (1.5 cm) thick. I freed the cakes from the pans and put them out on a rack to cool. Mom told me that Francine, Mom's helper, was going to make some "White Mountain" icing to frost them, so there they sat. Days passed, Wednesday and Thursday, and then on Friday morning, Francine came and mom instructed her in how to make the "White Mountain" frosting.

Later, mom was asleep and I was in the kitchen writing my blog, as Francine iced and constructed the cake. I wasn't paying much attention to her doing it, but she put the thin layer in the middle. When she was icing the sides, she said, "Hey, this middle layer is not as wide as the top and bottom. Had I been paying more attention, I could have told her about the two 9 inch pans and the one eight inch pan. She ended up just putting more icing around the outside in the middle so that the cake wall looked even.

My aunt and uncle brought two tubs of ice cream for the party and I accompanied the singing of "Happy Birthday" with my mandolin. Mom blew out the candles ( I didn't bother to put the full installment of 92 on the cake). The ice cream and long-lived cake were all yummy we had a nice celebration and gathering for Mom's 92nd.

Saturday 9 March 2013

Sadie Carr Marchant (Part II)

When Sadie returned to her parents home, to get her possessions, her father had had a change of heart and did everything he could to discourage her from returning to Montana, but she persisted with her dream. She ordered a laundry stove, table, chair, and folding cot from Sears & Roebuck, packed up her other things, boarded the train and headed west.

She enjoyed fixing up her little cabin, making bookcases and cupboards out of the shipping crates her possessions had come in. She settled into her new life on the 320 acres (130 ha.) of prairie grassland. For the first time in her life she felt the independence of being able to go to bed when she wanted and wake up when she felt like it. She had to maintain residence on her new home for five years, before she could claim ownership.

Most homesteaders existed by farming. Alone, living by herself, Sadie could not farm, but she was able to secure a job teaching in a one room school. She found a family that was willing to board her, who lived by the empty house that served as the school. During the week Sadie boarded with the family, then on Friday after school she would retune to her cabin for the weekends. One October Sunday, a promised ride did not materialize and at 4:00, she decided that she would have to walk the 8 miles (13 km) back to her boarding house.

She had been told of a short, which she tried, but she couldn't find the trail. Darkness began to settle in. There were no visible landforms to help her find her way. She looked for light from a house in the scarcely populated landscape. She knew she was lost. She came upon free range cattle in the darkness, and heard the wail of coyotes. After five hours, she spotted a light and made her way to a house, where she was taken in. She was wet with perspiration, from all her walking and worry. After a nights rest she was taken by wagon to her her school so she could begin her week of teaching.

One afternoon, when Sadie was away, during a storm, lightning struck the side of the room where she was boarding, causing a fire. She lost most of her things that she had there, and she was forced to find another place to lodge.

Another time a motorcycle spooked the horses of a wagon she was riding in. The driver was thrown from the wagon, as the horses bolted, another man jumped to safety, leaving Sadie and another girl clinging for their lives on the runway wagon. As the horses approached a drop off, both of the girls jumped off of the wagon. Sadie was all banged up, and had to spend the following day in bed.

Sadia had a cellar built near her cabin to store food in. One time she entered into it to get something, she heard the rattle of a rattlesnake, so she promptly left. A girl friend who was visiting at the time said she wasn't afraid of a rattler, and entered the cellar, she quickly came back out and reported that there were two rattlesnakes done there. Sadie never went back into that root cellar again.

The homesteading laws were changed and so after just three years of living in her little cabin, the 320 acres of land became Sadie's. She moved back to South Dakota, and married my grandfather. She was always very proud of striking out on her own, and getting the homestead land. During her retirement, she took an oil painting workshop, and it was her little cabin in Montana, that became the subject of her only painting. While primitive, it shows a great love of her memories of her adventurous life as a young lady.

Sadie's land still remains in our the hands of various members of my family. They rent it out to a local farmer, who sends them a cheque every year for the wheat he grows there.

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Friday 8 March 2013

Sadie Carr Marchant

Since this is International Woman's Day, I thought I would tell you about my grandmother. Her name was Sadie Carr Marchant. In 1911, when she was a young lady, living with her parents in Redfield, South Dakota, she was just finishing up a year teaching school. Her father told her about land that was being opened up for homesteading in the wilds of Montana. Sadie had friends who had homesteaded and had considered it herself.

When her school term ended, she went to town to see when the next excursion to the new homestead area in Montana would be. She discovered it would be that very night, she figured if she didnt go immediately, she would probably never go, so she rushed home, and packed her bags. Originally, her father had planned to go with her to seek homestead land, but because of the rush,he was unable to go, so Sadie got on the night train alone, and headed for Great Falls, Montana.

For three days and nights, she watched the flat grassy plains pass by, through the train window. She was impressed with the bustling city of Great Falls, when she finally arrived. She was very disappointed with the area she was planning to homestead in, but fortunately on the train trip, she had met a land agent and he took her out to some other possible areas.

On horseback, they road out to lands overlooking the Missouri River, with the Highwood Mountains jutting up in the distance, and Sadie, knew that was what she was looking for. Back in Great Falls, she signed the papers, to claim the 320 acres near Carter and Floweree, Montana, as her homestead.

She immediately arranged to have a small cabin built on the property, so she could establish residence. She bought a cot and blankets from a hotel in Carter, and during her first night sleeping in the tiny unfinished cabin there was a terrible storm. The roof had not been completed at one end of the structure, and the rain from the overnight storm got the bed all wet.

Sadie was in great fear of both storms and rattlesnakes, and the prairies had both in abundance, but she was determined to complete her quest and waited until her cabin was finished and slept in it several nights, before she finally traveled back to South Dakota to get her possessions.

More about Sadie's homesteading adventures tomorrow.

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Thursday 7 March 2013

High School Reunion

I hadn't seen Danny Mullen for 40 years. We were friends in high school. He sat in front of me in home room, and ran track together. We both had December birthdays, in fact, Dan is just one day older than I am. I would always tease him for being such an old guy.

I had lost track of Dan over the years and then a few years ago, discovered that he was living in Georgia. Since then, I always give him a call on his birthday to see if he has any ancient wisdom, to give to me, a mere youngster. When I mentioned that I would be coming to Evansville in March, he told me he would drive up to meet me.

I wasn't sure if we would recognize each other, but I knew he would be driving a flashy car, because he was always interested in sporty cars. He had a beauty of a Mustang after high school, and later bought a broken XKE Jaguar, which I assume he must have got going, although I don't really have any recollection of ever riding in it. At any rate, I was not at all surprised when a red Corvette pulled into my mother's driveway.

We visited, told stories, and pulled up old memories for a couple of hours, in my mother's kitchen yesterday, and met for breakfast at a restaurant this morning, before he headed back to the highway for the 9 hour drive back to Georgia. It was a real treat to meet up with Dan again.

Even though I spent 20 or so years in Evansville, when I come down here, I really don't see any of my old friends, they all seem to live elsewhere. The high school reunions I have attended have always been a bit of a disappointment for me. None of my close friends ever attended, so it was great to connect with Dan again.

I found it interesting how we maintain those youthful interests, throughout our lives. Dan is still interested in cars (he even owns one of those aerodynamic drag racers), and here I am, still interested in art and music (I just bought myself a cheap mandolin, that I will just keep at my mom's, so I will always have something to play when I come down here).

As I watched the sleek red sports car pull out of the restaurant's parking lot, I was touched and sure of appreciative of Dan for doing all that driving so we could meet up again. Thanks, Dan, that was fun.

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Wednesday 6 March 2013

A Crazy Robin

On my first morning after arriving at my mom's house, I was awakened early by a tapping sound. It kept on for more than an hour with some intermittent pauses. I thought right away that it was a woodpecker, trying to take apart the house, but I was still half asleep and was too tired to get up go outside and chase it away. My mom, who is a sound sleeper was unaware of the tapping.

I then forgot about it until yesterday, when, early in the morning, the same same thing happened again. This time I had enough energy to get up, dressed, and go outside to chase the noisy woodpecker away. I slowly walked around the house, scanning up along the eves looking for the woodpecker, I made this trip around the house a second time, thinking that I must have somehow overlooked the offender the first time around, but once again, I saw and heard nothing, so while I was outside I got the morning paper from the mailbox and went back inside to read it.

As soon as I sat down and opened the paper, the tapping started up again. I was not going to be outsmarted by a bird, so I got up, and once again put on my boots and jacket and when outside. This time, as I rounded the corner of the house, I saw a robin dart off from near a basement window, and suddenly, it all became clear what was going on.

The robin, a male, was seeing his reflection in the dark window, and, thinking it was another male in its territory, was attacking it to chase it off. His attacks were not very effective, because every time he returned to the window, he saw his reflection again.

I had witnessed this same behavior with a male robin once before at our house in McBride. Day after day a robin flew at, and attacked his reflection in the window. He attacked several different windows, despite my efforts to put things inside the window to scare him off. As I sit here, I wonder if placing a white piece of paper inside the glass, instead of a dark one, would have been more effective at reducing his reflection.

That story has a sad ending, because one day I found the corpse of a robin laying on the ground beside the house and I assume that it got carried away in its aggression and killed itself by slamming into the glass at too great a speed.

The genes that once gave his ancestors an advantage in breeding with the extra aggression to fight off competing males in the past had eliminated him from the gene pool in this modern age with all of the windows and glass.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Sometimes Mom Drives Me Crazy

My mother is about to celebrate her 92nd birthday. That is the reason I am in Evansville. Despite her age, her mind is still as sharp as a tack. They say that elephants never forget, and the same can be said about my mother. Sometimes I wish that she would forget some things.

The other day, she asked me to take a look at her nightlight. She said it no longer worked. I tried the switch and came to the same conclusion. I pulled it out of the socket and took it into the kitchen and plugged it in to a different socket, just to make sure it wasn't the socket that was causing the problem. The light didn't come on so I knew that the trouble was in the nightlight itself.

My next line of attack was the bulb. I took the old bulb out and mom's razor sharp memory remembered that she had some replacement bulbs in a small cabinet in the hallway. I put a new bulb in and flipped the switch, but the nightlight still didn't work. A burnt out bulb wasn't the problem either. I closely examined the night light to see if I could find anything else that might be causing the malfunction.

I noticed that the two metal prongs were misaligned. "Ah-ha", I thought, "something must have bumped the nightlight, bending the prongs." I assumed when they got bent out of place, the wires inside the plastic casing got broken, and so electricity could no longer flow from the prongs to the light. The nightlight was toast. I took out the bulb to save it, and threw the nightlight into the trash can. Then I told mom, that it was broken, and we would just have to buy a new one.

"Where is the old one?", she asked.
I told her that the fixture itself was broken and I had thrown it in the trash. They are cheap, and we can just buy a new one.
"Well, dig it out," she told me, " I need to give it to Francine." (Francine is one of her care givers.)
I asked her why she wanted to give it to Francine, and she told me that Francine's husband was an electrician, and could fix it.

I tried to explain, that no electrician was going to spend a couple of hours trying to repair a broken night light. I doubted he could even get in to the casing without breaking the whole thing, but once my mother has gotten something into her mind, she won't let go.

I walked back to the trash can, and dug around in it, until I found the broken nightlight, which I put on the counter, where mom could see it.

In a normal world, I could have just left it in the trash, and the broken nightlight would have just been forgotten about, but I know my mom's mind, and I know the next time Francine comes, mom is going to give her the nightlight to take to her electrician husband to fix. Life would run a whole lot easier, if mom could just forget a few things.

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Monday 4 March 2013

Golf Balls

Yesterday afternoon, my mother was busy with her nap, so I decided to take advantage of the sunshine outside, and walk down the road to say hello to my aunt and uncle. As I walked along, my eyes automatically scanned the side of the road for golf balls. Every time I walk this stretch of Darmstadt Road, nature dictates that find a golf ball or two. The photo confirms that natural law remains absolute.

My family's property in Evansville is adjacent to a golf course. As a result, golf balls seem to have always been a part of our lives. We would automatically find errant balls, half buried in the grass or leaves, as we walked through our fields or forests.

All during my father's retirement, he took advantage of this situation, generating extra cash by collecting, cleaning, and selling used golf balls. Every morning, he would rise just before dawn, put on his outside gear, then head over to the wooded and weeded outlying areas of the golf course, and make his rounds. I was always amazed at how many he would bring home. After cleaning them, he would sort and package them in egg cartons, ready for the consumer.

My father's prowess was such an established part of our family lore, that my brother Rob, in a creative writing class, wrote a story, in which my father really had a mystical god-given gift, in which golf balls just appeared magically around any area in which he stood.

While my father was alive, and in good health, when I returned to Evansville for a visit, I was often asked to join him in his early morning forays into the mists to look for golf balls. I sadly recall that I always passed on the search, because it seemed too much of an abrupt effort to interrupt my early morning sleep. Now, that he is gone, I feel a regret in my heart, at my laziness, and I think of my father, every time I see a golf ball half hidden in the weeds.

Sunday 3 March 2013


This blog is mostly for those readers still trapped in winter in BC, 1 day after leaving the 20 inches of snow in the Interior of BC, I am looking around me in southern Indiana and seeing grass. It's a bit disconcerting for these snow institutionalized eyes.

Saturday 2 March 2013

Traveling from McBride

Here I am sitting at the Prince George airport. I have 5 hours to wait before I can board my plane to Vancouver. Originally, I planned to drive up here, that would have meant being able to get a bit more sleep in the morning, and doing some shopping at Costco, but sadly it was not to be.

The weather is always pretty dicey this time of year, and yesterday when I saw the forecast, it became pretty clear that today wasn't going to be very nice for driving, so I had to come up with some kind of plan B. The only other option McBride had to offer was the bus.

Greyhound only has one bus leaving McBride a day. It leaves at 6:10 AM, so right away, I saw my late morning start disappear. The plane I needed to catch didn't leave until 3:30 PM, so I was looking at a prolonged wait in PG.

Getting a ticket for the bus seemed to be an adventure in its self. First, I went to the Farm Store, which was the Greyhound representative. They told me that it was cheaper to buy the tickets online. Saving money always has a great appeal to me, so I drove back home to the Internet.

I found the Greyhound website, put in the information, pressed the button, and waited. Nothing happened, no little graphs or spinning wheels, nothing. When it finally dawned on me that nothing was going to happen, I called Greyhound number on the screen. I explained what had happened, or rather what didn't happen. I was told they could get me a ticket, but it would be cheaper online. They couldn't give me the online price. For a second time I explained that I had tried to buy online, but their website didn't work. They then told me to call their I.T. dept, and gave me the number.

I called the number, explained what happened, the guy also tried to sell me a ticket, but again told me it was impossible for him to give me the cheaper online price. After explaining once again why I was calling, he asked what browser I was using. I told him Safari, and he said I should try Explorer. I don't have Explorer, but Joan had Firefox, on her computer, so I tried that. I got one step farther, but that too stalled.

I thought they probably had Explorer at the library in McBride, so we drove into town. They did have Explorer on the office laptop, that they let me use. II went to the Greyhound site, but only got as far as I had previously done. In frustration, I borrowed the library's phone to call the Greyhound 800 number. I went through exactly the same thing as I had gone through again, finally ending up with the same I.T. guy, who agin tried to sell me a ticket at the same non-online price.

I had had enough of "phone tag", so I hung up and drove back to the Farm Store to buy a ticket. When the cashier went on line, he told me that their ticket system was even worse than the public's online site. He was quite familiar with the impossibility of the public site. In the end, he did get me a ticket to Prince George, but was unable to get me a ticket all the way to the airport, which was the option, I wanted. He did write on the ticket that that was my destination, but he was unable to make it work on his computer.

At least, I now had a bus ticket. I knew I was going to have to get up early to catch the bus, so before going to sleep, I set my alarm for 4:58 AM. I awoke in the dark, and glanced over at my clock radio to see what time it was. I was surprised to discover that the clock display said, "4:58". Wow, I thought, I slept all the way through without waking up, and woke up just in time.

I turned on the light, and was temporarily blinded. I started to wake myself up, then glanced at the clock radio again , it still said "4:58", which seemed strange since some time had passed. It was then that I noticed that I had failed to set the switch back to "TIME" and it was still sitting on "ALARM". When I set it back to "TIME" to my dismay I discovered that it wasn't "4:58", at all, it was "1:30". Having turned on the light, had made my gland stop producing melatonin, so it was another hour and a half before I went back to sleep.

When "4:58" did come around, my alarm did go off. The Greyhound bus was 20 minutes late, but it came despite the wet snow that was falling. The ride to PG was fine, the PG ticket agent, while she thought the handwritten note on my McBride ticket was cute, never the less, charged me another $14 for the bus ride up to the airport, but I am here, it looks like the fog is lifting, and I am happy to be this far along on my trip.

Friday 1 March 2013

Mustang II

   I love to get my electric guitar, plug into an amp, and really trash along to music.  Joan, on the other hand does not share the same enthusiasm, when I am playing my electric guitar.  I am sure that is part of the reason, I quit doing it for so long.
    I mentioned that I had ordered a new small guitar amplifier when I started doing music again.  The amp I ordered was a Fender Mustang II.  It has arrived and I love playing through it.  I hadn’t followed amp development for years, and when I got this one, and saw some of the new features that amps now have, I was nicely surprised.
    New amps have “presets”.  In the olden days when you bought an amp, you could somewhat adjust the sound by adjusting more treble, or more bass, and maybe add “Chorus” that gave you sort of a 12  string guitar sound.  If you wanted more changes in the sound, you had to buy foot pedals for things like distortion or flange.  This new amp’s presets has those things built in, and not only that, you can set the amp to sound like great amps of the past.  You can pick things like: ’57 Deluxe, ’59 Bassman, or American 90’s.  I seem to gravitate toward “Briitish 60”s”.  I love playing “House of the Rising Sun” using this mode.
    The amp can be plugged into a computer, and you can create your own personalized sound and save it in the amp.  I haven’t done this yet, but it sounds like it might be fun.
    The feature I appreciate the most is an input that enables me to play my iPod or iPad through the amp.  I have all my favorite songs on my iPod, and I can plug it in to my amp, play a song, then, with my guitar plugged in, I can play my guitar along with the song.  When I do this with my earphones plugged into the amp, I can loudly trash along with Tom Petty or Neil Young and Joan hears nothing but silence.  She can read, knit, or watch TV in peace.
    I have loved this amp from the first moment I plugged my guitar into it.  I hope it continues to motivate me for years to come.

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