Wednesday 31 July 2013

Butterfly Boom

    For a while now, I have been mentioning what a good year this has been for blooming plants in the Robson Valley.  It seems that it is not only the plants that are thriving.  Over the past few days, I have been noticing an extraordinary number of butterflies.  
    Yesterday afternoon, I packed my chainsaw into the truck and decided to go out and glean some firewood.  I had been given a tip on where there was some birch trees down and going to waste after a logging show. 
    As I walked to the truck, I noticed there were 12 butterflies sitting on the driveway in an area the size of 1.5 meter square.  I proceeded to the truck and drove up my driveway and at the top of the road was maybe 30 more butterflies sitting in the sun.  I was struck by how many butterflies there seemed to be this summer.  
    I drove down the road and all along the road pavement there were pockets of butterflies.  When I got to end of the pavement where the road turned to gravel/dirt, the numbers of butterflies increased even more.  Although I was driving at a rather moderate speed, and trying not to hurt any, I sure I must have killed a hundred of them, as I bounced along the many kilometers out to where I was going to get the firewood.  
    Of course, what I saw was nothing compared to the thousands and thousands of monarch butterflies that winter in a small forested area in Mexico.  There, they cover the trees thicker than leaves.  But what I was seeing  was sure many more butterflies than I have ever noticed around here, before.  The populations could be seen all the way along the road in my journey out and were still fluttering around and congregating on my trip back with my load of firewood.
    The butterflies I have been seeing are a locally common type that I often see, although never in this exaggerated number.  I tried to do some research about what kind of butterflies they were, but failed using a butterfly app and my “Handbook of the Canadian Rockies”, to come up with it’s name.  Below is a photo of one of the butterflies I was seeing.

   UPDATE:  Val and Evan WIlliams, some friends, did a better job of research than I did and identified the butterfly as '’faunus anglewings' or polygonia faunus.

You can view my paintings at:

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Photos From The Garden

    Here are three shots I took in my garden the other evening.  The one on the top is a rhubarb leaf.  The other two are photos of zucchini flowers.  There are a lot of really beautiful and intriguing images in a vegetable garden, if one will only take the time to look closely.
    Speaking of zucchini, we’ve got to start doing something with our zucchini.  We’ve got a couple that are suddenly as big as a piece of firewood it’s 18 in long (45cm) and 4 in. (10 cm) thick.

You can see a painting of my garden at:

Monday 29 July 2013

My 15 Minutes of Fame--BLOWN

    Back in 1977, the Cosmos seemed to be unwinding in my favor.  At the time I was very interested in nature photography, especially close-ups of flowers and any other small natural thing that caught my interest.  One day, while walking along a beach on Vancouver Island a big toad jumped to get out of my way.  I had all my camera equipment with me, so I set it all up to try to get a photo of the amphibian.
    I had a 200mm lens, which I twisted onto a bellows that was then attached to my camera body, which was on a tripod.  I had a small hand-held flash that was plugged in to an extension cable, so I could hold it close to the toad, which by this time was huddled down in some foliage.
    I pressed down on my shutter cable and the flash flashed, and my camera clicked.  I thought I had gotten a good photo, but in those days you never knew until you had sent the slide film away, waited for two or three weeks for it to be developed, and then got it back and able to look at the slide.  When I did get it back I was very satisfied--it was a great shot.
    The following summer is when we were looking around for a house and property to buy.  We really were, for sure, going to live in BC, and we really liked the mountains and landscapes of the Robson Valley,  around McBride.  We found a small hobby farm with a tiny house on 5 acres of land, and bought it.
      We weren’t able to move in for a couple of months and in the mean time, we had been reading issues of a new Canadian magazine called “Harrowsmith” that was all about gardening and rural living. At the time, “back to the land” sort of articles were all the vogue.
    In one edition, I noticed that Harrowsmith was going to sponsor its first annual photo contest.  The categories were very garden oriented.  One category was “Garden Friends and Foes”.  I wracked my brain to think if I had any photos that I could enter, and decided that my toad photo just might fit.  Toads eat a lot of insects, and even though the toad in my photo wasn’t in a garden, it was sitting amongst some yarrow which is a herb, so maybe the Harrowsmith people would think it was in the garden. 
    I sent the slide in, and forgot about it.  Then, during November of 1977 a big envelope from Harrowsmith, arrived in the mail.   Inside was a letter, and the latest Harrowsmith magazine.  The letter said, ‘Congratulations, you have won the Grand Prize- a Nikon Camera, in our First Annual Photo Contest”, it went on to say they had used my photo in the centerfold of their upcoming magazine.    I was so excited, I could hardly get my fingers coordinated enough to leaf through the magazine for a look.  
    Finally, getting to the middle of the magazine, I opened it and there spread across the two pages was a big blowup of my toad photo.  
    “Wow,” I thought, “I am famous!”    My ecstasy lasted only until I happen to look down at the caption below the photo, which read:  “Grand Price Winner- Bob Marchant, McBride, BC.” 
     My name is David.  There it was--my 15 minutes of fame--Blown.

You can take a look at my paintings:

Sunday 28 July 2013

Light On The Mountains

    One of the main reasons we moved to McBride, was because I was drawn to the mountains that surround us.  I get great pleasure out of watching how the peaks change, depending on where you are looking from, and how the light is hitting them.  It is remarkable how the light changes their appearance.
    On Friday evening I was helping a friend working on a book that she originally wrote in Czech. From where they live, they have a nice view of what is locally known as “Beaver Mountain”.  As we worked, her husband interrupted us and told us to look out the window.  The top photo shows what the mountain looked like.  
    Then, maybe twenty minutes later, the lighting had changed to the middle photo.  The bottom photo was taken 30 minutes after the top one.   It all happened fairly rapidly, and provided quite a nice light show.

If you have the time, take a look at my paintings:

Saturday 27 July 2013

A Dream

    I dream quite a bit during my sleep.  Usually the dreams are quite interesting, if I remember them.  The other night I had one that was quite entertaining.  I dreamt I was back working in my old BC Forest Service office.  During the dream, I was aware that I had retired, but in the dream, the Ministry of Forests was having trouble getting its mapping done, and they had asked me to come back to help.
    Amazingly, in the dream, I did.  That was the set up in the dream.  What the dream really centered around was the fact that after two years of working back at the office, there really wasn’t any more maps to do, and I was extremely bored at being there.  My immediate supervisor, who I didn’t much like, was always trying to get me to do other projects, that I wasn’t at all interested in doing.  He was continually pestering me. 
    I decided that I was going to quit.  After all, I had already retired and had a pension, so I didn’t really need the extra money.  I decided that when the District Manager (the big boss of the office) came around, I was going to give him my 2 weeks notice.
    The District Manager did come around and I told him that I was giving my notice and was going to quit in two weeks.  The really interesting thing about this dream was who the District Manager was--
it was Barack Obama.
    I hope you appreciate all the work I had to go to so that you could see what my old Forestry workspace looked like.  I spent about 45 minutes, going through boxes of old photos trying to find a photo.  I failed.  So, I spent more time going through a box of old slides, but again, I couldn’t find any office photos.
    My last hope was some of my old videos.  Fortunately, I have my old video tapes partially organized, and while looking in my video notebook, found that in the 1999 tape, I had some clips taken at the old Ministry of Forests office.  Unfortunately, all the tapes were there except the 1999 one.  After shuffling around the papers on top of the filing cabinet, I found the 1999 tape.
    Since this was an old tape, I could only play it on my old camcorder, whose battery was long dead.  I plugged it in to recharge and finally got it going, but when I input the camcorder into the computer, I inadvertently used the wrong kind of cable, so I couldn’t get the image of the office onto my computer screen.  In desperation, I just used my present camera to take a photo of the image on the little camcorder screen.
    The photo looked all right until I got it onto my computer screen, then I saw that it was really full of colored dots.  By this time, I had found the correct cord for inputing the old camcorder into the computer.  I went back and got the 1999 tape, fired up the old camcorder, and this time, I successfully got the image onto the computer screen.  I again took my present camera, and took a photo of the office image that was displayed on my computer screen.  That is the photo you can see.

My paintings can be seen at:

Friday 26 July 2013

Phone Numbers

    One of the most important bits of information tied to our lives is our phone number.  As a young child, it is the most vital thing  you need to know, next to knowing your name. 
    Young people today, probably wonder why letters appear with the numbers on the phone.  Back when I was a kid, letters were part of our phone number.  At that time, my home phone number was “UN-75555”, then later, the phone company eliminated the letters, and chose to divide the digits into a 3-4 format, and our phone number became “867-5555”.
    In 1977, when Joan and I moved to McBride, it was the smallest “Village” in BC.  Because it was so small, if you wanted to make a local telephone call, you only needed to dial 4 numbers.  Even though most of North America had “push-button” phones at the time, residents of McBride were still using the old technology and could only use rotary dial phones.  It sometimes became a problem when you made a call to civilization and got a recorded message telling you to “press ‘1’ for this” and “press ‘2’ for that”.  Our phones wouldn’t allow us to “press” any number because they didn’t use a tone.
    Despite all the wear and tear on the old index finger caused by using the rotary dial, it was easy to make a call back then.  Later, civilization came to McBride and the phone company made us dial 7 digits to make a local call.
    Then few years ago, even though McBride didn’t get any bigger, (in fact, it’s population had shrunk) the telephone company made our lives even more complex.  Now, every time we want to make a local call, we are forced to also use the area code, so we end up having to dial 9 digits:  (555) 555-5555, just to call someone next door.  Making phone calls has become a real pain.
    While I am on the subject of phone numbers, I thought I would mention some trivia about area codes.  Way back when they were being developed, everyone had rotary dial phones.  The designers of area codes, tried to create area codes using number found at the beginning of the dial, because they would use up less dialing time, than using numbers toward the end of the dial, and if you consider how many phones there were in North America and the total amount of time it would take for all that dialing, it probably made a lot of sense.  Of course, now with buttons that make tones, it doesn’t really matter what numbers are used in area codes since all numbers use up the same amount of time.
    As I touched on earlier, here in North America we use a 3-4 number format.  That is because it was found that the 3-4 format phone numbers were easier for North Americans to remember.  It is easier for us to remember a group of 3 numbers, followed by a group of 4 numbers, than it is to remember a sequence of 7 numbers all in a row.  Of course, you can dial all 7 numbers without a pause just as well.  I read that if someone asks you for your phone number, and you want to mess with their heads, you can write down your number in a 4-3 format or a 5-2 format.

Check out my paintings at:

Thursday 25 July 2013


    I worked for the BC Ministry of Forests for 23 years.  They had a Forest Service office in McBride, and I have a lot of good memories about my co-workers who worked with me there.  One of the perks of working in that office was all the food that was continually brought in by and for the staff to enjoy.  People were always making cakes, cookies and pies, then bringing them to share.
    There must have been a special potluck lunch one day, because someone brought in a tub of ice cream and a bottle of butterscotch syrup to put on it.  Since it was not all eaten during the luncheon, the ice cream and syrup was brought out again during the afternoon coffee break.
    I love ice cream and really love butterscotch syrup, so I had myself a generous portion of the combo during the coffee break.  It tasted great and in no time I had scraped my bowl clean.  When the coffee break was over, everyone lined up by the sink, awaiting their turn to wash out their bowls and clean their silverware before returning to their desks.  
    Everyone was responsible for cleaning their own things, and instead of filling the sink with detergent and water, everyone would just put a squirt of Sunlight  (the dishwashing detergent that we were using) into their bowl and then run some water over it and swish the cookware clean with their hands.
  Like I said, there was a lineup waiting for the sink.  As I stood in line waiting, I noticed that the bottle of Sunlight was not being used at the moment, so in order to be efficient and save time, I grabbed the detergent and squirted some of the golden colored soap into my bowl.  I waited and waited as the line gradually got shorter.
    I was lost in thought, then I happened to look down in my bowl and discovered there lying in the bottom was still a small quantity of golden syrupy liquid. 
    “Wow,” I thought, “I still have some butterscotch syrup left in my bowl,”  I couldn’t believe my luck, I took my spoon, reamed out the bowl, filling my spoon with the golden syrup, and lifted it to my mouth, savoring the moment when all that sweet butterscotch taste exploded onto my taste buds.
    My taste buds did explode, but it wasn’t with the sweet butterscotch sensation I was expected--they exploded to the gagging chemical taste of Sunlight dishwashing detergent.  Even the detergent’s advertised “lemon scent” did nothing to mitigate the horrific taste engulfing my mouth.  I pushed my co-workers aside, so I could spit into the sink, and get some water to wash out my mouth, but it did little good.  
    For an hour after the episode, my tastebuds were still misfiring and my mouth was filled with the taste of all those noxious chemicals.  Even today when I think about it, I have to suppress my gag instinct.
    It was a terrible but memorable experience, but it gave me an interesting story to tell which always seems to please those that hear it.

See my paintings at:

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Making Hay

    My apologies to anyone who came here yesterday looking for a blog.  We had to go up to Prince George and I didn’t have time to do one.   

    “Make hay while the sunshines,” is an old adage which is based in reality.  Farmers in the Robson Valley, have a long winter to get through, and if they have animals, those animals have to have something to eat during that long winter when there is no grass available.  So farmers cut the long grasses in the summer, dry it in the sun, make it into bales, and that is what they feed the animals in the winter time.
    Cutting the hay is not a big problem, but often, the drying of the cut hay is.  It all depends on the weather.  If you cut the hay, and you get some rain, the downed and drying hay may get mold and mildew, and it can’t be used.  It is always a gamble for farmers around here, because quite often the weather can be unstable and rain can be unexpected.
    This year we have had a nice two week stretch of hot and sunny weather, perfect for drying out the cut hay, and the farmers are taking advantage of it.  From the look at the numbers of bales out on the field, it looks like its going to be a bumper crop.
    For many years, I had a herd of angora goats.  Getting hay was always a big concern for me.  I do have a pasture where I grew hay, but since I didn’t have any equipment, I always had to find a farmer to cut and bale it for me.  Their first priority of course, was to get their own hay cut, then after that they would come and cut mine, so I would have to hang around worrying that the weather was going to change and my hay crop wouldn’t be any good.
    As my herd of goats increased, I soon got to the point where I had to just buy bales of hay.  I would always buy the smaller rectangular bales rather than the big round ones shown in the photo.  I found a guy who had fairly poor hay, but goats have a very efficient digestive system, so unlike horses who need very nutritious hay, I could get by using poorer hay. 
    Of course, buying hay led to other problems, the biggest of which was getting the bales to my house.  First, I had to drive out in the field and load the bales onto my old green truck.  This was always done on hot sunny days, and as I threw and stacked the bales on the truck, bits of hay would fall down upon my face and neck, sticking to my neck and face, and get underneath my T-shirt.  The work became gradually more difficult as the stack of bales on my truck got higher and higher.  I would stack as many bales as I could, tie them down so the load wouldn’t fall off, and gingerly drive home to my barn.
    A couple of times I lost part of the load as the truck shifted on the uneven field.  It was always a nerve wracking drive, even when I reached the road or highway.
    Once I got home, I immediately had to put the bales into my barn, onto the second story.  I would back the truck next to the barn, climb up on top of the bales on the truck and lift them through the opening in the barn that was 10 ft (3 m.) off of the ground.  Once in the barn, I then had to carry them and stack them.  After I got all of the bales off of the truck and into the barn, I had to turn around and drive back to get another load.  It was a lot of hot  sweaty work, and it was always a great relief to finally have the job done.
    As my goats aged and died, the size of my herd declined down to the point where I just had a couple left.  Then I began cutting hay from my field using a grass trimmer.  I would let it dry in the sun, flip it over every after a few days so that the underside would dry, then just load the loose hay  into my truck in a big haystack, haul it to the barn, and carry it into the barn a pitchfork load at a time, and depositing it onto another big haystack there.  This was also hard, uncomfortable work, but it took less time and less gasoline  and I didn’t have to drive out on the road with my truck which was no longer insured.
    Even though I don’t have any hay-eating animals now, I still cut some hay every year and make a small haystack in the paddock.  The deer eat some of it during the winter, and I use whats left for mulching the garden and greenhouse.  
    I have spent many ours in my life making hay, and it certainly is an important part of farming in the Robson Valley.  I am happy to see the farmers get a nice stretch of sunny weather this year so they can have a successful haying season. 

I have a painting of my old truck at:

Monday 22 July 2013

Eating Out

    Yesterday, we took advantage of the beautiful day we had going, and did something that we should do more often-- we fired up the barbie and ate outside on our shady deck.  The skies were clear except for the big puffy cumulus clouds building over the mountains, the temperature was 31C (88F), there was a nice breeze. and no bugs.  It was perfect.
    The garden is now coming in, so we ate a lot of things we grew ourselves.  I made some German potato salad using some of our potatoes, and a green pepper freshly picked from the greenhouse.  Joan made some lemon aid garnished with some of our spearmint, and also a “fruit pizza” with our strawberries and saskatoon berries.  
    It was all so peaceful and laid back, and it made me feel guilty about eating so many of my summer time meals in front of the television set. 

See my paintings at: 

Sunday 21 July 2013

The Rose Garden

    The Robson Valley is experiencing an extraordinarily good summer.  I have mentioned before how all the plants are reacting by producing more blooms than normal.  Yesterday, we were over to visit the Milnes and it was hard to keep my eyes off of the splashes of color coming from Dave’s rose garden.  The bushes were heavily laden with magnificent flowers.  To share a bit our summer, here are some photos of his roses.

You can see my paintings at:

Saturday 20 July 2013

CAPTURED: Marten #3

    It’s deja vu all over again.  Yesterday, when I went out to check the live trap I had put in the dog house, I discovered I had caught my third marten.  I have been catching one every week for 3 weeks now.  After I catch them, I drive them way out the road and let them loose in the woods.  I am having to drive farther and farther away with each successive capture.  I drove this one out 12 km (7.5 miles) down the road.  
    This one looked healthier than the last one and it wasn’t so snarly.  I can’t imagine that there are anymore around here, but I will set the trap out again, just in case I am wrong.  It is sure strange that I had never seen a marten around here before this year and suddenly, there seems to be an explosion of them.

Take a look at my paintings:

Friday 19 July 2013

It Finally Collapsed

    I have always been drawn to decaying buildings.  The sight of someone’s abandoned dream slowly, year by year, being returned to nature has always seemed symbolic of our fleeting existence.   I find old log structures especially interesting.  There are a lot of them scattered around the Robson Valley, most of them hidden amongst trees or in isolated drainages.  
    This one was sort of unique, in that it was sitting out in the open in a field and could be viewed from both Hwy 16 and Hinkelman Road, just east of McBride.  I have been watching it since we moved to this area in 1977.  It’s image was once used on the cover of the regional phone book back in the 1980’s.    Lately, it’s roof began to sag more and more.  I wondered how long it might last.  I was surprised it made it through the winter.  I took the photo above in May of this year.
    A week ago, when we passed it, I noticed that the roof had finally collapsed.  It looked as if the concrete chimney was probably pushed by the wind, leaned over too far, and fell, bringing down half of the roof with it.

See my paintings at:

Thursday 18 July 2013

My Shade-Loving Flowering Plant

    Our yard is very shady, so when we look for plants we have to find ones that can tolerate a lot of shade.  Early last spring, Costco had various packages of plant roots for sale.  One package was full of “shade-loving” plants.  It had 5 ferns, 5 hostas, and some other plant with a long name, that was supposed to have a flower on it.  
    I love ferns and hostas, so I would have bought the package anyway, but I was very intrigued by the flowering plant, which I didn’t know anything about.  There was no photo on the package, so I imagined big vibrant blooms giving colorful accent to the shady areas beside our house.
    I bought the package, and planted the roots in pots in the green house.  They all grew and when it was warm enough outside, I transplanted the plants into some of the shady garden spots next to the house.  Time passed.
    Well, the shade-loving flowering plant has finally presented to the world, it’s bloom, and what a disappointment.  I must admit it is a whole lot less than I expected.  It is that washed out pinkish spot in the photo.  I guess anyone who has done any gardening knows the feeling when reality finally replaces imagination.

I did receive an email from my cousin who said that the plant is a Astilbe or False spirea.  She said that given time it may develop into something a bit more dramatic.

You can see my paintings ohostas and  a fern on my website:

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Rhubarb Leaves

    Yesterday, I was down on my knees in the garden, weeding the potatoes, when I happened to look up and see the light hitting some rhubarb leaves.  I don’t know why this sort of thing is so exciting to me, but I had to take a photo, and immediately recognized it as something I might use someday as a subject for a painting.
    I like the greens, the glow and veins of the backlit leaf, and the full range of lights and darks.  I have already done a couple of paintings that featured rhubarb, and it looks like this might be another.

You can see my two rhubarb paintings at:

Tuesday 16 July 2013


    I had never heard of saskatoon berries until we moved to Canada.  I had had the pleasure of eating a few berries and pies, but we never had very many opportunities, because we never found any growing around our property.
    I always thought they tasted similar to blue berries, but with a fuller taste.  They are supposed to have more nutrients than blueberries.  They grow on small trees or bushes.  They are common across western Canada, and parts of the central northern states of the US.
    A couple of days ago in a conversation with our friends Jim and Abbie, we were told that they have a huge amount of saskatoons growing along an old lane on their property.  This seemed strange to me because they live just across the Fraser River from us.  They invited us to come and pick all the berries we wanted.
    Yesterday, was a beautiful warm and sunny day, and so we drove over to their place and were amazed at how many saskatoon berries that were growing on the low trees/bushes.  They were easy picking too.  No thorns  or bending over.
    We picked until it got boring, and then returned home with our harvest.  Joan hinted that there will be some kind of dessert coming my way later today.

Visit my website to see my paintings:

Monday 15 July 2013

Crossing the Fraser

    I have mentioned before that it seems that if we see one animal on our walk, quite often we will then see a second.  Today was one of those days.  This morning when we first started out on the trail, ten or so young grouse flew up and scattered.  As we walked into the field down by the Fraser River, I caught a glimpse of something in the water. Our second animal turned out to be a young moose.
    When I first saw it it was in the deep channel, up to its neck swimming hard against the current.  By the time I took this photo, it was climbing out of the deep channel, and could walk instead of swim.
    Lately, I have been seeing the odd moose hoof print along our trail, and I guess having spent some time on this side of the river, things began to look greener on the other side.

View my paintings:

Sunday 14 July 2013

Robson Valley Cartoon Map

    The other day I was typing out a lyric and chord sheet for a song I was going to introduce at our Tuesday night jam session.  There was one chord that I used in the song that I didn’t know the name of.  I remembered that I had a poster that showed all of the guitar chords and I went looking for it.
    I found a roll of posters, and started to go through that and found the guitar chord poster.  I also found this cartoon map that I had made in 1993.  I had forgotten all about it and was happy to see that I still had a copy of it.
    A local tourist promotion organization asked me if I could make a map showing the different communities, highways, river drainages, and other features that might be of interest to tourists.  This map is what I ended up with.  I drew it out and colored it using colored pencils.  Its size was 2 ft x 3 ft (60cm x 90cm).  They printed out a bunch of copies and sold them locally for a while.
    Of course, when I drew out the map I made sure I drew in my house and property.  When a neighbor saw the map I was working on he ask, “Where’s my house?”  He gave me $5 as an inducement, so I drew in his house also.
    You probably can’t make out much of the finer details of the map, but maybe you can see some of the places I mention in my blog.  It might give you a bit more of an idea of what our valley and the surrounding countryside looks like.
    P.S.  The name of the chord I was looking for was “Asus2” which seems so obscure it is probably simpler just to show people how to finger it and forget about giving it a name.

See my many paintings of images in the Robson Valley at:

Saturday 13 July 2013

CAPTURED: Marten #2

    I am pretty convinced that my theory that there was a marten family in the neighborhood is correct.  On Monday I blogged that I had caught an adolescent in the live trap, and this morning there was another skinny, long-legged one in the egg baited live trap that I had placed in the dog house.  This one was thinner than the previous one.  And as you can see, it didn’t even bother to eat the egg.
    Joan and I put the trap with the marten in the back of the truck and drove it out to a thickly wooded area even farther away from where I had dropped off marten # 1.  When I opened the trap it scampered off into the woods.  I hope it finds lots of things to eat out there so it can put on some weight.  They eat a lot of mice, and there are so many free ranging neighbor’s cats around our house I suspect the competition for mice is pretty great.
    I hope this is the end of our marten invasion, but I will continue to set the live trap.  Why not, I still have the egg.

My paintings can be viewed at:

Friday 12 July 2013

Snow on the Mountains

    Over the last two nights the local mountain tops have gotten a dusting of fresh snow.  This is a photo of Mount Lucille, which is situated right across the valley from us.  It always feels a bit ominous to us to see fresh snow in the middle of July, but it is of course, a bit colder up there at the elevation of 7800 ft (2400 m).  The snow that fell overnight will all melt away during the day.
    Mt. Lucille is a nice area for a day hike.  You can drive pretty much to alpine, then hike along the edge on the right hand side up to the peak.  At the very top, we usually rest and break out our lunches while we enjoy scanning the Robson Valley and the tiny townsite of McBride below us.  Even though the mountain isn’t all that high, I can always feel that it takes more exertion to do things up there than down on the valley bottom.
    After resting up, we climb down the left hand side until we get to the alpine meadow.  We walk across the flowery meadows which you can just see a bit of in the dark green area below the grey mountain.  Lucille is always an inspiring experience, but I am always happy to finally get back to the truck to get off of my feet.   The whole loop of scrambling up and down Lucille is about 4 miles (6.4 km) in length.  You don’t need any equipment, just energy, water, lunch, and good boots.

See my paintings at:

Thursday 11 July 2013

Garden Report

    While I probably do too much complaining about all the rain showers we have been getting, the garden certainly holds a different opinion.  All of the moisture that we have been receiving in the Robson Valley has fueled a lot of plant growth and the garden looks quite jungly and healthy.
    Most of the green you see in the center of the photo are potato plants.  We always have a lot of flowers that we allow to come up in our garden.  The red blooms are poppies, the orange are maltese cross, the purple are delphiniums, and the pinkish spikes are foxgloves. 
    Last year our garden did quite poorly, and it is nice to see it thrive. 

You can look at my paintings (including one of my past gardens) at:

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Dig We Must

    Normally, seeing a small section of damp earth is nothing to get concerned about, but if that moist section is right above your buried waterline, it can mean big trouble.  Yesterday, a neighbor and I walked up to see how we were going to deal with another problem on our waterline--a 200 pound (90 kg) boulder that had slide into our collecting culvert at the head of our waterline.  We went up to try and figure out how we were going to get the monster out.
    Before we got to the culvert we happened upon the soggy ground and we had to switch our priorities.  The boulder wasn’t really causing any problems, just taking up space in the culvert, but if our  waterline had developed a leak, that was trouble.
    We began digging around the moist area, and the deeper we dug the soupier the ground became.  Soon we could see spots where the water was seeping up through the ground.  We saw areas where we had dug, start to rise and move eerily as the water forced its way up from below.  As we dug down, we also had to dig a trench sideways about 10 ft (3 m), to the edge of the hill,  so the water would drain away and not fill up our hole.
    Yesterday, we only managed to dig down through the rocky/sandy soil about 2 feet (60 cm).  We didn’t know how deep we were going to have to dig to find our waterline.  In places it is buried 8 ft (2.4 m.) below the surface.  We finally quit, deciding to begin again today.   Luckily, this morning we were joined by another neighbor ( a younger one with more energy than us old guys) who helped us dig.  Joan took the photo showing how I looked, when I came home from lunch.  We managed to find the waterline 5 ft (1.5m) down, and discovered that there was a leak in the union of two of our pipes.   
    This afternoon we wheeled two wheelbarrows filled with tools up the hill, and luckily had all the tools and pieces of plumbing we needed to take the faulty piece off and replace it with a new part.  Of course, at this point we had turned the water off at the top of our waterline, and after about an hour we managed completed the repair and had water flowing through it without leaking.
    We all returned home chilled (we had rain showers during our operations on the hill), but we’re all happy that the miserable job had been successfully completed and hopefully, we won’t have any similar problems for 20 or more years.  I am finally warming up, but still pretty knackered from all that digging.  I’m glad it all went as smoothly as it did.   
    As we were digging in the rain, several times I wondered how easy life must be living in an apartment, where water problems have to be solved by someone else.

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Tuesday 9 July 2013

Red Sky at Night

    Saturday evening the Robson Valley experienced a fiery red sunset, and true to the old saying; “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight” the following days was beautifully clear and sunny.  Fortunately, we were coming home from visiting so we could see it.
    Because of the way our house is situated, and the fact that we are surrounded by tall trees, we don’t really get to see the sunsets during the summer, so we miss a lot of good ones.  Being a lover of color, it is always a treat when I see a good one.  I am glad I had my camera so I could share it.

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Monday 8 July 2013


    Anyone who has been following this blog will know that I have had several encounters with martens.  Most famously, the one where a marten came into my bedroom. 
    For a couple of weeks now,  we have been noticing that we haven’t been getting any eggs from our free ranging chickens.  There for a while they were laying their eggs in the dog house, but then the eggs started disappearing.
    I thought the thief might be the marten, which suddenly started hanging around our house.  I had a live trap that I borrowed from a friend, and so two weeks ago, I put it into the dog house with an egg in it for bait.  The next morning the egg was gone, the trap was open, and overturned.  I had caught something over night, but because the door mechanism was a bit wonky, the animal had struggled and managed to escape.
    I worked on the trap making it more secure, re-baited, and reset it.  A week and a half passed with no results, then yesterday, Joan noticed that the trap’s door had been sprung, and when I investigated I found a not too happy marten inside the trap.  It snarled and hissed at me.
    We drove it out to a nicely forested area down the road, and the marten didn’t even wait for me to fully open the trap’s door before it rocketed out escaping into the bush.  Hopefully, that will be the end of our marten problem, but I am not so sure.
    I was immediately struck at the trapped marten’s appearance when I first discovered it in the trap.  It seemed like an adolescent.  It was thin and long legged.  The other marten I had seen appeared more bulky.  Maybe the fact that it was running around in my bedroom made it appear larger.  I do have a suspicion that this might be a young one recently kicked out of a family and the other was the mother.  I will just have to wait and see.
    I guess I will reset the trap with another egg and see if any more of these critters come in for a meal.

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Sunday 7 July 2013

A Compromised Perimeter

     I was out trying to do some weeding in the garden yesterday in between the rain showers.  Joan called to me saying that something had eaten the small forming head off of one of our cabbage plants.  I was puzzled as to who it could have been.  It was more than a mouse could do, maybe it was a rabbit.
    This mystery was solved a couple of hours later when I was sitting in the living room, and Joan informed me that there was a deer standing in our garden.  Deer standing in a garden is not a rare occurrence in the Robson Valley, they are everywhere.  However, 10 years ago, I put up a 6 foot (2 metre) fence around my garden, so until now, deer haven’t really been a problem for me.
    I went outside to scare the deer away.  When I walked into the garden it scurried over to the far side.  I tried to herd it out by way of the now open gate, but it panicked and ended up bounding over my high fence.  Its amazing how high they can jump.  I didn’t really think that was how it got into the garden so I started to investigate.
    Our clothes line wheels out over our garden, and when I built the fence, I had to leave a metre wide slot where my fence is only 4 ft (120 cm) tall, beneath the clothes line to allow the clothes to move over the fence.  When I checked that part of the fence, I could see the deer’s deep foot prints in the grass on the garden side of the fence, so I figured that it had discovered the low section and took advantage of it.
    I then spent 30 minutes constructing a barrier out of wood and fencing to block the clothes line slot and make it as high as the rest of the garden fence.  From now on, before we hang the clothes on the line, we will have to remove this barrier.
    If only life would sometimes get simpler, instead of always getting more complicated.

My paintings can be seen at:

Saturday 6 July 2013


    Today is cold and gray, with the light rain coming down.  I am wearing a polar fleece vest, because the house is cold.  I continue to limp around because of a twisted ankle which is now a week and a half old.  Over all, things seem to be conspiring to bring me down.  I thought maybe a bit of color might help lift my spirits, so today I chose this photo of a vibrant clematis.
    Clematis is a climbing vine which puts out big extraverted and colorful flowers.  I guess the plant originated in China, then because of its beauty in the 17th century it spread to Japan.  A hundred years later European gardeners were planting it.  I was surprised to learn that it is part of the buttercup family.
    We have a fence around our garden to keep the deer out, and we have several clematis plants growing up and clinging on the fence.  Our vines are 6 feet (2 metres) tall.

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