Thursday 30 May 2013

String 'em Up

    When I was a kid, my grandfather owned a large commercial greenhouse from which, he made his living growing tomatoes and lettuce.  One of my first means of employment was working in the greenhouse for 65 cents an hour.  I had to get up early, because most of the work was done before the Indiana heat set in and made the greenhouse to hot and unbearable.
    When the small tomato plants reached a certain height, one of the jobs I did was to tie the tomato plants up.  Lengths of twine were cut and draped over my shoulder and I would proceed down the long rows of tomatoes, bending over to tie a small loop around the plant then standing up to tie the other end to the overhead wires that ran the length of the greenhouse.  This twine supported the tomato plant and as it grew, we would have to wind the plant around the vertical twine.
    I must confess, I didn’t much like agricultural work as a child.  I walked through the rows of tomatoes, sweat dripping off of my forehead, being slapped in the face with tomato plant leaves, wishing it was quitting time so I could go home and play.  Now, as an adult, I find myself once again, out in the greenhouse, stringing up tomato plants, but knowing how good the tomatoes are going to taste, makes the job a whole lot less burdensome.
    I planted 7 different varieties of tomatoes.  I am really looking forward to tasting “Black from Tula”, which is a dark tomato, with an intense taste.  I also have a couple of varieties with Amerind names:  “Cherokee Chocolate” and “Sioux”.   For years, I have planted “Longkeepers”, whose tomatoes you can pick and just keep on the shelf for months, sometimes we’ve eaten them well into December.
    For big juicy tomatoes, I have “Better Boy”, and for smaller, but tasty early tomatoes, I have planted a variety called, “Matina”.  I also have cherry tomatoes called ”Sweet Baby Girl” planted right beside the greenhouse walkway, for snacking whenever we go in.
    Tomatoes are certainly one of my favorite vegetables, and summer would not be summer without them.  Now that I have all the tomatoes mulched and tied up, all I have to do is keep them watered and wait for the tomatoes.

You can see my paintings at:

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Tuesday Night Jam

    I have been so enthused about playing music, that I took the initiative and made arrangements with the McBride Library to use the library annex every Tuesday night for a drop in jam session.  It is something I look forward to every week.
    Like most jams, we go around the circle of musicians, and each can suggest a song to play.  This leads to a wide variety of music.  Bluegrass, blues, rock, and folk are the general genre.  
    The photos show the musicians playing last night.   Jake on classical nylon string guitar, Lennie on washtub bass, Bob on dobro, Lelani with her 12 string guitar,   Brad fingerpicking his banjo, and finally, me playing the mandolin.
    A short recording clip of one of last nights songs can be heard on this same blog at my website:

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Pink Mountains

    The Robson Valley / Rocky Mountain Trench has a SE/NW orientation.  During the winter the sun sets behind the mountains, but in the spring it sets further and further to the west, until eventually, as we approach the summer solstice, the sun is setting, not behind the mountains, but at the NW end of the valley.   Now as it begins to set, the sun is shining sideways through the Valley.
    That is what happened last night.  The sun was shining sideways, and giving the air ( and the mountains) a pinkish glow.  I took this photo at 9:00 PM.

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Monday 27 May 2013


    As we do our daily walks down our trail through the bush, most of the time I am looking down at the understory--plants that are growing low on the forest floor.  This understory changes as the trail travels through several slightly different ecosystems.  In the photo that you could see in the “Wall of Green” blog, you could see that the trail was lined with bushes that are sometimes as tall as I am.  In other places, the ground is covered low growing plants:  ferns, false solomon seal, and thimbleberry.
    Some pine forests and old growth cedar forests in the Robson Valley, are referred to as “Parkland”.  Those are wonderful forests to walk through.  You have the trees, of course, but the ground is only covered with mosses, lichens, or very low ground covers.  They is like a carpeted forest. 
    In the areas of ferns and other low growing plants along our trail, there seems to be a photo everywhere I look.  Above is a photo I took after one of our frequent rain showers.

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Sunday 26 May 2013

Mallard in the Grass

    We seem to have a lot of mallards on the pond this year.  For some reason, during the last few days, some of them have been waddling up toward the house in the pasture.  Yesterday, when I looked out of the living room window, I saw this male sticking its head out of the tall grass and took this photo.

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Saturday 25 May 2013

Wall of Green

    Every year during the spring, I am amazed at how the vegetation around here explodes into a jungle.  Everything is green.  It is especially noticeable when it is grey and rainy outside.  For some reason that kind of lighting seems to enhance the color green.
    Because the vegetation is now so thick and high, that we have started to make noise as we walk our trail, so if there is a bear out there, it will hear us coming, and not be surprised by our sudden appearance.  In a couple of sections of our trail, you really can’t see through the wall of green on either side of you.
    The photo shows an area of the trail, that was wet and boggy  I put an old board down so we could get across the wet section.

Take a look at my paintings at:

Friday 24 May 2013

Prince George Caterpillars



    Yesterday, we had another one of our epic Prince George adventures.  We had to get a big service done on our car, and as a result, we had to spend 5 or so hours, killing time.  We used a lot of that time walking the streets in Prince George.  As we walked those streets, it wasn’t just time we were killing, we were also killing thousands of caterpillars.
    Prince George is suffering an invasion of tent caterpillars.  The squirmy creatures were crawling everywhere.  Some were suspended in mid air, as they hung by webs, from the tree branches above.  We had to wave our hands to push them aside, as we walked along the sidewalk under the trees.  Later, I discovered a couple crawling up my clothes as I sat in the library, and again, as we waited for our car inside at the Subaru dealer.
    Thousands of the caterpillars were on the move, inching their way across the sidewalks and roadways, as we traversed the city on foot.  Many of the trees we saw were left totally leafless, stripped by the voracious eaters. 
    I found the photo on the upper left, really interesting.  There were so many caterpillars on this street light, that they totally blocked its light sensor, keeping the street light shining in the broad daylight.  Naturally, all these caterpillars, were a big topic on the local CBC radio broadcast.  They mentioned that someone, during one invasion made wine out of them.  Sounds yummy.
    In 2005, the Robson Valley had an invaded of tent caterpillars.  It lasted almost 3 years.  In hard hit areas, in large swaths of the valley, deciduous trees sported naked branches, as they do during the winter.  Caterpillars where crawling on doors and houses, dropping out of trees, and covering every horizontal surface with their droppings.
    We were fortunate on Mountain View Rd, because the invasion collapsed just as they were beginning to show up in our yard.   Our trees were left pretty much intact, and luckily we were spared the sight of thousands, crawling around our house.
    It seemed that there were so many caterpillars in the Robson Valley, that the birds got tired of eating them and just let them be.  A tree can usually last through 3 years of being leafless before it finally dies.  Hopefully, the Prince George invasion will be short-lived.

My paintings can be seen at:

Thursday 23 May 2013

American Marten

    Yesterday, was another one of those rare days, when all sorts of wildlife were out galavanting around in the woods.  I blogged about the black bear we saw on our morning walk, and when we started out on our afternoon walk, we were wary of seeing the bear, so I thought I would make some noise as we walked so it could hear us coming.
    Usually the late afternoon walk, I take some oats and corn along to scatter where the trail runs beside our pond, to feed the ducks (and inadvertently) the deer.  After I had emptied the plastic jar of the oats and corn, I just drummed on it’s bottom and whistled a happy tune as we continued down our trail. 
    Shortly upon entering the woods, I saw some commotion, and watched as a mother moose, and calf retreated deeper into the bush.  When we got to the field where we had seen the bear, it was empty, but a big hawk or raptor took flight.  When we re-entered the woods at the far field, we scared off a spruce grouse (a chicken-like bird).  
    Like I was saying, I was trying to make noise kept vigil as we walked, and through the high brush I saw movement in a tree.  When I got a clearer view, I could see a dark furry animal, but wasn’t sure what it was.  It was bigger than a cat, and it had a really furry tail.  I took two photos, and when I got home I looked it up in my BC Mammal book.   I decided it was an American Marten.
    Martens are pretty elusive animals.  I have never before seen one in the bush.  They eat voles, insects, squirrels, and have even been know to finish off an apple pie that had been left in a window to cool.
    Seeing a marten, was really a special treat for me.  They are usually only found in deep mature conifer forests.  This one was in a mixed forest mostly aspen, cottonwood, and birch trees, with only a scattering of spruce and balsam.   They are a sign of a healthy mature forest.
    They are prized for their fur, and are sought after by trappers.  Hopefully, this one will have a long life in the neighborhood.

Visit my website  to read blogs from the last two years and to 
view my paintings.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

First Bear

    This morning, we started out, sleepy eyed and slow, on our trail to take our morning walk.  In the first part of the trail, I commented about how high the brush that walled the trail was getting.  It is more noticeable now that the leaves are out.  Joan replied that it was kind of scary, because something unseen could easily jump out and get you.  We continued on down the narrow path.
    When we got to the second field, I noticed a spot of black on the edge of the hillside.  It was a black bear, the first we’ve seen around our place this spring.  It was feasting on dandelions.  He was far enough away that he wasn’t aware of us.  I snapped this photo, and we turned around and started to retrace our steps making our way back the way we came, so we wouldn’t disturb the bear.
    We generally see bears and signs of bears, periodically through the spring and summer, and they usually trash our fruit trees in the fall.  We have never felt threatened by them, they usually take off when they become aware of our presence.
    One time, Mac, our big, but wimpy dog, treed a mother bear and her two cubs at the far end of my pond.  I saw two black spots in the tree and thought it was some ravens going after baby ducks, so I went down to chase them off, and was surprised to discover that they weren’t ravens, but bear cubs.  The mother was up in a neighboring tree.
    Another time after just returning from a vacation, a black bear, unaware that we had returned, started walking down our driveway toward the house.  I ran out of the house shouting and waving my arms and it turned and ski-daddled off, back into the woods.

Take a look at my paintings at:

Tuesday 21 May 2013


    May is the month when the forget-me-nots come up all over our lawn.  The plant can stick up about 7 inches (18 cm) above the ground and on the top they have a cluster of tiny blue, pink, or white flowers.  Most of the forget-me-nots in my yard have petals that are translucent light blue color, surrounding a tiny yellow center.
    The forget-me-nots in our neighborhood, originated with Mrs. Nail, an elderly woman who lived next door, when we first moved to McBride in 1977.  She was a member of the Alpine Club of Canada, and if I remember correctly, she got the seeds through them.  Over the years, they have spread from her property, across to our yard.
    As you can see from the photo, I have a lot of them.  I really like to have them in the lawn, so for years now, when I mow, I always mow around clusters of forget-me-nots, so that they will be able to go to seed and spread.  Had I mowed them all down year after year, I doubt that I would have any in my yard today.
    Mowing around the forget-me-nots does cause some problems.  Often there are things like dandelions growing among them, and so they will also go to seed, but since I already have hundreds of dandelions in my yard, it doesn’t matter that a few more dandelion seeds hit the air.
    After several weeks of mowing around them, the forget-me-not patches of the yard do start to look a bit ratty, so eventually, after the forget-me-nots have had time to develop their seed, I do finally, mow them down, and next year, new ones will come up, and again make me happy to see, that I have a lawn like a flowery meadow.

Take a look at my paintings, at:

Monday 20 May 2013

Worldwide Web

    One of the really interesting things about having a website and writing a blog, is the statistics you can receive about who comes to your site.  I was totally unaware of the availability of this information when I first started, now I really enjoy and I am constantly amazed whenever I go to take a look.
    The most fascinating information for me is where some of the viewers that have visited to my sites come from.  The top photo shows where the people live, who came to my “” site, and the bottom photo shows those that came to this site.   These numbers change daily, and they always leave me scratching my head.
    How and why, did someone in Turkmenistan find me?  I have also had hits from Guatemala and most interesting:  Myanmar (Burma), where I thought only the military had computers.   Why am I getting so many hits from Russia?  It’s all a mystery.  I also get information about the “robo bots, spider bots, and unknown bots” that troll the internet and stop in at my sites.  That bit seems a little scary.
    A lot of the people that read the blog are friends, relatives, or acquaintances.  It is always interesting when they travel or go on vacation, because suddenly, I get hits from the country they are visiting.  That sometimes explains why I begin getting contacts from an unexpected country, but why should I be getting hits from all these other places?  I find that really mystifying.
    I assume people are doing searches with search engines, but what in the world, did they put in, to end up on a blog site of a retired guy walking around his home in rural British Columbia, looking and writing about the everyday things that catch his eye? 
    My simple mind is constantly amazed at all this new technology, and all of the things it enables.

To take a look at my paintings, go to:

Sunday 19 May 2013

Buttermilk Pie

    I have always had a schizophrenic relationship with buttermilk.  I remember as a young boy, that occasionally, we would have a bottle of buttermilk in the refrigerator, and that my father really loved to drink it.  He would always try to get my sister and I to try it, but we were both for some reason appalled at the thought of drinking it, and I never have.  Even to this day, I don’t think I have ever had the nerve to take a big drink of buttermilk.  
    I have always found it interesting that in many of the novels about pioneer or cowboy life, buttermilk is often offered as a drink to visitors.  Because of my aversion, it seems like a strange thing to offer.
    When I was around 10 years old, at one of the big Sunday dinners that we had at my Grandparent’s house, my grandmother Marchant, served a pie for dessert.  It looked good, and tasted delicious, but for some reason, she refused to tell us kids what kind of pie it was, but I really fell in love with its tangy taste. 
    After I had verbally committed to my position that it had become one of my favorite kinds of pies, the boom was lowered and I was told it was a buttermilk pie.
    I felt I had been terribly tricked, but it was too late, I was already addicted.  Since then, I have enjoyed and fixed buttermilk pie hundreds of times, and it remains one of my favorites.  Joan fixed one yesterday, and we enjoyed it’s tangy flavor last night.
    Here is the recipe for the way I make it:

Stir and Roll Crust-
    1/3 cup of oil (I use peanut oil, but corn oil or safflower oil also works)
    3 Tablespoons of milk
    1 1/3 cups of flour
    Pinch of salt
        Measure milk into oil, mix it around with a fork, add flour and salt.  Stir until all the flour is moistened and can be formed into a ball.  Place the ball on wax paper or saran wrap.  Place another sheet of wax paper or saran wrap on top of it and roll it our flat to the size of a 10 inch (25cm) pie pan.  Place the dough in the pie pan and start making the filling.

    1 cup sugar
    3 Tablespoons of flour
    1/2 teaspoon of salt
    3 eggs
    2 cups of buttermilk
    4 Tablespoons of melted butter
    Preheat the oven to 375.  Combine sugar, flour, and salt, blending thoroughly, add buttermilk, eggs, and butter, and mix it all up until it has an even liquidly texture.  Pour filling into the crust, then put it into the oven and bake until the pie surface becomes golden.   That generally is about 45 minutes.  

    I admit that it is pretty ridiculous of me to be afraid of taking a drink of butter milk, since in all probability, I will probably like the taste.  My father really did, and I certainly love buttermilk pie, and have always liked some of the salad dressings that contain buttermilk.  Maybe one of these days I will build up the nerve to pour some into a glass and give it a try.

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Saturday 18 May 2013

A Truckload of Gravel

    We have a problem in our household.  Neither Joan and I like to talk on the phone.  I especially hate to initiate a phone call to inquire about something.  As a result, many things we need to do, get put off, until we finally just have to make the call.
    If you read my blog about the Loonie auction, you know that I really wanted to win that truckload of gravel.  I needed to put another layer on my driveway, and I wanted to use part of the load to fill in a low spot beside my barn, that always pools up with water in the spring.  
    Since I didn’t win the truckload of gravel, and didn’t want to make a phone call, I put the whole idea of getting gravel off, until some undefined future date.  I am however, an opportunist, so the other day, when I heard the rumble of a big truck turning into the neighbor’s driveway, I rushed over there to take advantage of the opportunity.
    I got to their house, just as the truck was finishing dumping a load of big rocky gravel, onto a pile by their house.  I flagged down the driver, and told him that I lived next door and was interested in getting a truckload of smaller, more sandy gravel, for my driveway.  
    The driver was a young man I didn’t know, named Igor.  He said he could get me a load right away, and called Victor, the owner of the company, to verify the price.  Victor told him, that he knew me and he gave me a deal, so I told Igor, “Okay, let’s do it”, and off he drove to pick up my load.
    Shortly, he returned, and the giant truck with its box tilted and open, was soon spreading the sandy gravel onto my driveway.  Igor then put the rest in a pile by the barn, for me to spread out with a shovel, later.  He ended up putting a lot thicker layer on the driveway, than what I really wanted, but there wasn’t much I could do about that.
    This extra layer of sandy gravel (about 7 inches, 17 cm) on my drive, caused some problems for Igor when he tried to leave.  Because our driveway slopes up as it approaches Mountain View Road, and the surface was now largely loose sand, it caused the truck to spinning his wheels as he hit the incline near the road.  It couldn’t get enough traction to make it up to the road.
    He tried several times to back out, and failed, then I talked him into turning the giant truck around, down in my smallish turn around spot.  It took him several “back and forth’s” to finally get the truck aimed  up the driveway.  It still took several attempts to get out, but eventually, taking a good run and building up some speed, as I watched for traffic up on the road, for him to make it out.
    I have had countless loads put on my driveway, but eventually they all disappear in the clay.  It will be a while before the sandy gravel, which is presently quite loose, solidifies a bit.  Until that happens, it is a good thing we have two 4 wheel drive vehicles.  
    The last time I got newly placed sandy gravel on the driveway, Joan made the mistake of trying to ride her bike down it and ended up flipping over, when her front wheel veered to the side.  Despite, the present irritations, it is nice to have gotten the truckload of gravel without having to make a phone call.

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Friday 17 May 2013

Out on the Lanai

    Yesterday after supper, we had such a beautiful evening going on, that Joan, Lucifer, and I did something we rarely do, we went out on the lanai to sit and enjoy the beautiful weather.  Joan brought her knitting out, I grabbed my mandolin, and the cat took up an observation post on an empty lawn chair, and monitored the movement of the chickens, who were under the spruce tree.
    As I sat there and looked out over the trees in our yard, toward the mountains, everything was so spectacular, I had to get up walk into the house and get my camera.  You can see from the photo, that our fruit trees are now in bloom.  The white blossoms are our on our cherry tree,  the reddish green branches sticking up behind it come from our crab apple tree, but it’s blooms haven’t really opened yet.  The trees are alive with bees and butterflies and they fill the air with the sweet scents of springtime.
    In between the songs I was playing on the mandolin, I could hear the wind chimes tinkling, while two squirrels chattered at each other, then chased one another up, down, and around the cottonwood trees beside the bird feeder.  It was all very idyllic, until the wind died down, and some flies and mosquitoes started to be an irritant.
    May is one of my favorite months.

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Thursday 16 May 2013

Flowered Border

    We always used to take our dog, Mac, to the airport for walks.  Even though Mac is no longer with us, Joan and I still go to the McBride air field to walk up and back on the runway (McBride doesn’t get much air traffic).  That was what we were doing the other day, when I noticed the border of yellow flowers along the tarmac.  It almost looked like someone had planted them, the way they ran along the edge.  
    They, of course, are dandelions.  I guess the heat from the sun warms up the runway which holds and radiates the heat, and as a result the dandelions growing close to the runway  live in a slightly warmer climate than those further out in the lawn.  As a result, they bloom earlier.

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Wednesday 15 May 2013


    During the winter, when there was snow on the ground, I re-located a section of our trail.  Originally the trail went within about 75 meters of the neighbor’s house, but it was largely obscured by trees.  Last summer, he cut a lot of trees down, around his house, and in the fall, as the other trees and bushes lost their leaves, the neighbor’s house became more and more in view, as we walked the trail.  
    We didn’t really feel comfortable any more in this section of the trail, so I brushed out an alternative trail that was further away from the house.  Since there was snow on the ground when I did it, I didn’t fully know what kind of vegetation was growing along this new section.  
    This spring as the snow all melted, we got to see all the plants and bushes along our new length of trail.  In one small area of the trail, we got a surprise.
    Fifteen or so years ago, a friend offered to dig up a flowering plant that Joan had admired.  As she dug, she noticed that beside the flowering plant. she had given us some smaller leafy plants.  “You probably don’t want those,” she said, “They spread like crazy.”
    Joan told her that she would take them anyway, because there was a lot of empty areas in the flower garden.  Since then, Joan has waged a yearly battle against the leafy invader.  
    This year, as the plants along our trail came up, we were really taken aback to discover a patch of this same invasive leafy plant, (I apologize for not knowing it’s name), growing in one small area in the woods, along our new trail.
    I have no idea how it suddenly arrived in the middle of the woods.  At our place, it is isolated and only grows in the narrow confine of the flower garden that runs between the sidewalk and our house.  It is not in our lawn, or anywhere else I have discovered, and I don’t have a clue how it might have spread to a small isolated area in the woods, where we have never been before.
    I am, of course, assuming that it came from our house, but I really don’t know that for sure.  It might have spread from somewhere else, but the mystery still remains:  How did it get there?

To look at my paintings, go to:

Tuesday 14 May 2013


    Ferns have always been one of my favorite plants.  It thrills me to discover them in the spring, when they pop out of the ground and begin to unwind.  Here is a photo of one I saw yesterday.
    I think one of the reasons I am attracted to them is because they remind me of the primeval past.   During the Earth’s carboniferous period, 250 million years ago, the plants that eventually turned to coal were growing in swamps and jungles.  Ferns were one of the ancient plants that grew then, and amazingly, they are still with us today. 
    In my youth, when I started collecting fossils, one of my most memorable finds, were some rock concretions from an Indiana strip mine, that when struck on the edge with a hammer, would split open, showing the imprint of a fern in its center.
    I am also reminded of my first visit to Hawaii, when I got to walk on a lava field of a fairly active volcano.  The lava field was only a few years old, and ferns, which are the first plants to establish life on the hardened lava, were beginning to grow up through the cracks. 
    I found that resurgence of life on solid rock quite inspiring, and ferns have always represented a source of hope as a result.

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Monday 13 May 2013

Another Satellite TV Story

    Yesterday, I told you about adjusting my satellite TV dish, using the big television set we had in our living room.  That reminded me of another episode that I had with the satellite TV dish.
    In a normal place, when you buy a satellite TV system, an expert installer comes out to your house and sets it all up for you free of charge.  Living where I do, it is something I can only dream about.  McBride is so far away from any big city (135 miles, or 217 km), that no expert ever comes to set or repair anything for us.  There is no local set up person, so like everything else, it fell upon my un-expert shoulders to do.  Luckily, with a lot of trial and error, I was able to get the dish and satellite TV going.
    For many years, I had the dish on my house, but our house is located rather close to the neighbor’s wooded property, and eventually his tree’s grew so tall, that it started blocking out my satellite signal and I had to find another place to put the dish.
    This was a lot harder than I expected.  It seemed that in every location I checked, the satellite was either blocked by trees, or was too far from our house, causing signal loss from a long cable.
    I finally settled on putting the dish in my barn yard, where I could get a signal, and was only 60 meters away.  Like I mentioned yesterday, I had to wheel our TV out there with the wheel barrow.  I also had to get power out there using a lot of extension cords, and take the satellite receiver machine out there as well.  I needed to attach the receiver to the dish with a cable and attach the receiver to the television with another cable.
    Luckily, since I had been having to deal with this sort of thing several times before, I had several left over satellite cables stored away in my shop, and was organized enough to have them all in one spot.  I went to that spot to find myself some cables.  I found one the right length for the dish/receiver connection, but all the other cables were either too long or too short.
    I finally decided to go with a big coil of cable which was much longer than it needed, but I chose it and I took it out to the dish.  I connected the dish to the receiver with the short cable, then grabbed an end of the cable in the coil and screwed it into the receiver.  I grabbed another end sticking out of the coil, and plugged that into the TV set.
    The task then was to slowly move the satellite dish up and down and back and forth until I got the signal from the satellite.  I would know when I had the satellite, because the low drone sound coming out of the TV would suddenly become higher in pitch.  The higher the pitch the stronger the signal.
    Because I had done this several times before, I knew roughly what part of the sky the satellite was in, and figured that it should only take me about 15 minutes to find it.
    I stood behind the dish and slowly moved it up and down, then I moved the dish a little more to the south and did the up and down movement again.  I repeated this over and over, and got nothing.  I started the procedure again, repeating the movements.  Still I got nothing.  I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t find a signal.  Surely the satellite was still up there.   I checked all my connections to make sure they were all tightly screwed in.  
    Everything seemed all right, so I tried again, and again.  I moved the dish back and forth first, then doing the up and down to see if that made any difference.  I rotated the dish over and over again.  I got no signal.  I had spent 1 hour and 45 minutes moving the dish around, and didn’t pick up even the faintest signal.  I was starting to get extremely frustrated and wished I lived in a place where someone who knew what they were doing, could be called to come out and figure out what was wrong.
    I eventually decided to unplug all the cables and then start all over.  It was then that I discovered that the big cable coil that I had used, was actually two separate cables, coiled together.  I had screwed in the end of cable “A” into the satellite receiver, and the end of cable “B” into the TV, so there really wasn’t a connection between the receiver and the TV.  I felt a fool.
    Once I had the two ends of the same cable screwed in, I quickly found the satellite and got a strong satellite signal.  I tightened the screws to hold the dish into that position and gathered up all my equipment.  With all my built up frustration waining,  I wheeled my TV and receiver back into the house, hooked it all back up in the living room, and finally sat down in my chair to enjoy my satellite TV once again.

To view my current painting, go to: 

Sunday 12 May 2013

Dunster Mother's Day Yard Sale

    This morning we drove out to the tiny community of Dunster to see what bargains they had on the tables for their annual Mother’s Day Yard Sale.  Our week of stellar, hot, sunny weather was coming to an end, and there were thunderstorm warnings, and as we approached, the showers had already begun.  
    Before the rain began in earnest, we had managed to buy a few bedding plants, and a bird feeder, and had time to talk to a few acquaintances that we hadn’t seen for a while.  As the rain began to fall harder, I felt sorry for the venders who were scrambling around trying to keep all their wares under cover in the pouring rain.
    Going to the Dunster Sale reminded me of my small black and white television episode.  We had a small portable TV that we no longer used, and so one year, I donated it to the FHA (Fraser Headwaters Alliance, the local environmental group), so they could sell it at the Dunster sale.  I think they had put a $15 price on it.
    Over the following summer, I had to re-install my satellite TV dish which I had re-located out in the barnyard.  To re-aim the dish, I had to have the satellite receiver, hooked up to a television, beside the dish, so I could monitor the signal, as I moved the dish around trying to find the satellite.
    It meant that I had to load up my big color television from the living room, onto a wheelbarrow, and wheel it out to the dish, then string a couple of extension cords from the house to power it.  I feared for the TV the whole time I was moving it in the wheelbarrow, and it felt very weird sitting with the giant color TV out in the pasture.
   As I did it, I was wishing that I still had that little portable black and white television, that I had given away, because it would have been a whole lot easier to move, and would have worked just as well in finding the satellite signal.
    The next year when the Dunster Mother’s Day Yard Sale came around, I was happy to spot my old black and white TV, once again sitting on the FHA table with the same $15 price.  It evidently hadn’t sold the previous year.
    I was happy to lay down the 15 bucks and regain the possession of my old TV.  I have used it several times to check things with my satellite TV system, since I re-purchased it, and will never part with it again.

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Saturday 11 May 2013

The Loonie Auction

    The McBride Library is trying to raise money to buy a new building.  Last night, they had a fund raiser.  They put on a spaghetti supper and something they called a “Loonie” Auction.  For those that don’t know, a “Loonie” is the name given to the Canadian dollar, which is a coin with a loon on it.  I, and most everyone I knew, was pretty confused about what a Loonie auction was, but since it was for the library and there was also spaghetti, we all went.
    Naomi, our librarian, trying to drum up support for the event, told us after our Tuesday Night Jam session, that it would be a chance to get some really nice items for only a loonie.  She rattled off a list of items to be auctioned:  a romantic weekend at a local resort, some appliances,  bedding plants, etc.  We were all pretty unenthusiastic about the list, until she said, “and a truckload of gravel”, then we all perked up.  It seemed that all of us rural inhabitants were interested in a load of gravel.
    Before we sat down to the spaghetti, we got to look over the items for the auction.  I noticed there were some other things that I wouldn’t mind having.  There was a power washer, and some really nice hanging baskets.  It seems that everyone was still confused as to how the loonie auction was supposed to work.
    Once we were all stuffed to the hilt with spaghetti, salads, rolls, and desserts, the “auctioneer” once again explained how the loonie auction worked.  I then realized it probably could be better described as a  series of lotteries, rather than an auction.  
    It item was shown, then, if you were interested getting the item, you could buy numbered poker chips for a loonie each.  You could buy as many you wanted.  When everyone had all the chips they wanted, the chips were put into a container, which was shaken up, and a chip was drawn.  If it was one that you bought, you got the item.
    I bought chips for the bedding plants, the power washer, some hanging baskets, but sadly, my numbers never seemed to come up.  I kept buying the chips, but never seemed to win.  I missed out on the power washer, and the bedding plants.  Actually, it seemed that no one on our table won, while people at other tables seemed to be winning all the time.
    Eventually, our friend Di, who was sitting at our table, bought two chips on a combination prize of a patio table, big flower container, and a hanging basket of flowers, and surprisingly, she won.  I figured that the luck at our table had finally turned, so I started buying chips on other items with renewed optimism, but what I was really saving my loonies for was that big truckload of gravel.
    The loonie auction process was fun to watch as various people won things, but it took a long time, with so many different items to auction.  People were winning, gathering up their prizes, and as the evening turned into night, people began to leave.  I figured that this would just increase my odds at winning the gravel, if it would ever come up.
    Eventually, about 10:45, way past my bedtime, the last item came up for bid.  It was the load of gravel.   I bravely put down 10 loonies for chips, and crossed my fingers.  Sadly, that load of gravel was not destine for my driveway, so Joan and I, with a bit of disappointment in our hearts for going home empty handed headed out into the dark starry night to our truck to drive home.  
    It wasn’t that we arrived home with an empty truck.  Di’s table, planter, and hanging basket, were too big for her to take home, so we hauled it back for her in the back of our pick-up.
    I had heard once that the worst thing that could happen to you, was to win when you first gambled, because that would set you up for future of misery.  Fortunately, I didn’t win that first time, when I put a quarter into a slot machine in Los Vegas, or it seems anytime since, when I have put down money for a chance to win something.  I guess I am lucky that way.  Looks like for me, the only way to get gravel for my driveway is to buy it.

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he way to get a load of gravel, is just to buy it.

Friday 10 May 2013

Creeping Green

    Here is a photo of something I enjoy watching every year.  It is the creep of green leaves slowly moving up the mountain side as the weather warms.  May is really one of the most beautiful times of the year in the Robson Valley.  The mountains are still covered with lots of snow, which makes them stand out against the deep blue of the sky, while the light green of the newly emerging leaves add a bit of warmth to the mix.

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Thursday 9 May 2013


    Here is something I thought was interesting.  This sprouting plant has skewered the leaf.  Its hard to figure out how it happened, since the leaf is so light in weight, I would have assumed that the growing plant would have just lifted it up, until it fell out of the way.  Instead it went right through it.  
    I am thinking maybe the leaf was held in place, frozen to the ground, when the plant started its upward trajectory.  Perhaps the leaf had a small hole in it that the plant took advantage of.  Who knows, just another of nature’s little mysteries.

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Wednesday 8 May 2013

"Fence Line" Revisited


    Many years ago, in the month of May, I took a photo of a sunset streaking through the trees beside our pasture.  I used that photo as the source for my painting “Fence LIne” (shown on left).  The other day when the sun was going down through the trees, I was reminded of my painting and decided to take another photo (on right) for a comparison.    
    All of the same trees are still there, but the original must have been taken a week later, because there were more leaves on the trees and the sun was going down a little further down the valley. 

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Tuesday 7 May 2013

A Mouse's Ear

    When should I plant my garden?  One of the old sayings that gives help says, “You can plant when the aspen leaves are the size of a mouse’s  ear”. 
    Yesterday, the leaves of the aspen tree that sits beside our garden, rushed passed that size, so I put in my potatoes.  It was amazing how quickly the aspen and other trees suddenly exploded into leaves.
    I have been complaining all spring about how winter just wouldn’t let go, then suddenly, it seems we skipped spring and jumped into summer.  Our daytime temperature have been hovering around 30C (86F).  That is really warm for this time of year when the average high is supposed to be 14C (57F).
    Just for your information, another saying about when to plant your garden says, "when the soil is warm enough to comfortably sit bare-assed in the soil."  I haven’t tried that one yet.

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