Thursday 31 October 2013


    Today is Halloween.  As a kid it was one of the most eagerly awaited days of the year, a chance to dress up and become someone, or something else, a time to be out in the neighborhood after dark, excitedly walking from house to house.  An opportunity to try to scare and puzzle the neighbors, when they opened their door were given the choice:  give a “Treat” or expect a “Trick”.  My neighborhood buddies and I always talked about soaping the windows of people we didn’t like, but we never did; we were always too busy going from house to house trying maximize the amount of candy that was filling up our bags.
    Even as an adult, Halloween was a memorable time.  In McBride, someone in our circle of friends would always put on a costume party.  I was constantly amazed at the remarkable and imaginative costumes people came up with, considering how limited the little village was for costume making resources.
    One Halloween I will always remember occurred half a year after a couple moved into our neighborhood from Belgium. (That’s you, Ingeborg and Wim).  Having grown up in Europe, they were not familiar with the North American traditions of Halloween, all the visiting children, and the “Trick or Treat” business.  It was fun to explain to them all about what would happen.  They listened and were prepared on the big night.
    When Halloween arrived, Joan and I hung around our house giving out candy to the few kids that came around.  Around 9:00 PM we figured we would get no more trick or treaters, so we decided to dress up and do our own “trick or treating” down at Wim and Ingeborg”s.  I don’t remember what costumes we had, but we were wearing masks, so we couldn’t be identified.
    We drove down to our neighbor’s place, parking the car our of sight from their windows, and walked up to their door.  I suddenly had a thought, and decided to kneel down in front of the door, so that I would appear to be a child.  
    We knocked on the door and it opened and Wim and Ingeborg looked down on me.  In high voices we said, “Trick or Treat” and I thrust my bag out in front of me.  Ingeborg was suddenly shocked and taken aback, when she saw that the little kid holding the bag had giant enormous hands.  It was great fun to rip off our masks and enjoy the unexpected joke.

Visit my website to view my paintings:

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Frosty WIld Rose Leaves

    This time of year always offers me a chance to take some close-up shots of frost on leaves.  I have been noticing this red cluster of wild rose leaves beside our trail for several days because it was about the only bright color in the field down by the river, but I always passed it by without passing to taking a photo.
    Then after a cold night its red color lost a lot of intensity, but it was left with a nice fringing of frost.  That finally made me stop and I kneeled down and took this photo.

You can see my paintings at:

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Ice On The Pond

    Little by little the slow slide toward winter is progressing.  This morning I noticed that my pond was completely covered with ice, except for a small area in the middle.  While the days have been sunny, there wasn’t a whole lot of warmth and the overnight temperatures have been a cool -8C (18 F) .  In the mornings, the fields have been white with frost.  I noticed yesterday afternoon that the frost was remaining in those areas that stayed shaded throughout the day.
    To me, ice on the pond is one of those milestones that signify seasonal change.  The next one I will be waiting for is snow. 

I paint every morning, see my paintings at:

Monday 28 October 2013

National Pie Day

    Every year I make and sell a calendar which features my cartoons and scattered trivia associated with particular days.  I happened to notice on my current calendar that today is “National Pie Day.”  That seemed to be quite a coincidence because on Saturday in McBride, there was a gathering of 40 or so volunteers all strung along a production line, making apple pies which were being sold to raise money for the library.  
    Joan came home after helping with the pies, full of praise of the efficiency of the production line and the fun of the experience.  That sentiment was echoed by everyone else I talked to who was there.  Somewhere around 600+ pies were made.  Joan, who worked briefly boxing pies at the end of the line, said the pies were coming at her so quickly, she could hardly keep up.
    It makes me feel good to see such a huge slice of local residents working together doing things to better the community and filling it with delicious pies.

See my paintings at:

Sunday 27 October 2013

A Bit of Color

    With the disappearance of the autumn leaves, and all the bright hues turning into browns and grays, I find myself already hungering for color.   Fortunately, there is still a few splashes of color out there to fill the void.  I spotted this cluster of Red-Osier Dogwood leaves flashing their color amid the gray trunks of the cottonwood trees.  The plant is an important browse for moose during the winter.

See my paintings:

Saturday 26 October 2013

A Far Away Glow

    We were walking on the trail at 5:00PM yesterday.  The sun had already gone behind the mountains, shading the valley bottom, but still shining on the yellow leaves on a far away slope.  That’s when I took this photo.
    The bush seems so different this time of year.  During the summer our trail is a narrow pathway through a claustrophobic jungle of green, now that most of the leaves have fallen the world is opening up and we can see the mountains and the river through the woods. 

I paint one square of a painting every day, see the one I painted today at 'Current Work' on my website: 

Friday 25 October 2013

Trembling Aspen

    The deciduous tree that probably most famously is associated with the Rocky Mountains in North America is the trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides).  It is poplar tree which is commonly seen growing in well drained and drier areas of the Robson Valley.  The question usually asked by those people not familiar with the tree is, “Why is it called the ‘Trembling Aspen?”
    For some reason the shape and structure of its leaves causes movement, even in the slightest breeze.  The whole tree seems to shimmer as the leaves move back and forth.  In the language of some of the First Nations people they referred to this characteristic as “woman’s tongue”, and “noisy leaf.”   Some believed that if the leaves began to shimmer when there was no perceptible wind, it indicated that a storm was on the way.  (The last time I saw the leaves trembling was about 4 days ago, and its been clear and sunny ever since.)
    This blog spot doesn't allow me to put on a video, but on my website ( in the blog section, there is a short video I shot of the aspen doing its trembling trick.  Don’t get too excited, its not that dramatic, but it gives you an idea about why the aspen got that name.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Sweeping the Roof

    There are always a hundred things that need to be done before winter hits.  One thing I always try to do is to sweep the roof.  Our house has a metal roof, not only does it give a bit more protection in case of a forest fire, but it also allows the snow buildup to slide off.
    As you can see our roof doesn’t have much of a slope to it.  Usually leaves get blown off, but during the fall when there is a deluge of leaves and twigs from our big willow trees, the leaves can end up in clumps, and if moist, they start to decompose and can stick to the metal.  If this happens, more leaves pile up on top top of them and even the wind won’t take them off.  When the snow does come, it builds up on top of the leaves, and has a hard time sliding off.
    That is why I am up there sweeping the leaves off.  I like to go into winter a nice clean surface for the snow, so when it does reach the point where its weigh wants to glacier it off the roof, it is not inhibited.

I paint every day, to see my paintings go to:

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Nasturtiums Revisited

    In my painting “Bucketful” I showed the bucket/planter that hangs on a post at the head of our driveway, overflowing with nasturtiums in mid-summer.  They are at their prime health and glory.  The nasturtiums you are looking at in the photo, are feeling a lot less vigorous, as the slow march toward winter begins to take its toll.
    While I miss the intense flashes of orange and yellow, I am still entranced by the twisting of the stems, the pale colors, and the limpness of the circular leaves that show in this photo.

You can see my painting, "Bucketful" at:

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Dunster, BC

    Every year millions of tourists flock to Paris and London.  The number flocking to the hamlet of Dunster, BC is quite a bit less.  Knowing that, I realized that there are probably quite a few people out there in internet land that have never been to Dunster, and since I mention it periodically in my blogs, they might be wondering what it is like.  The above photo pretty much captures it.
    Downtown Dunster consists of the Dunster General Store.  There is an empty railroad station across the road, and just a short walk from the store, the Dunster Elementary school, that was abandoned by the school district.  Separated from these three buildings, and sitting across the valley on Hwy. 16 is the Dunster Community Hall.  Those are the 4 structures that come to mind when someone speaks of Dunster.
    All of these buildings (except for the train station) are surprisingly full of activity, considering how small the community is.  In the store, people shop for unique groceries tailored to appeal to the organic and pure food tastes of their customers.  The store is also where residents come to pick up their mail.  It has a real old-time general store feel to it.
    There always dinners, markets, and meetings going on at the Dunster Community Hall.  Just last Saturday, Joan and I attended the annual “Harvest Dinner” potluck there.  After the meal, I attended a really fine tribute to Leonard Cohen, given by a duo of very talented musicians that took place in the gym of the Dunster School.  The building was purchased by the community after loosing the fight to keep the school running the school district.
    The most important thing to know about Dunster is the community spirit of it’s people.  They are always in the forefront of most of the positive and progressive things that happen in the Robson Valley, be it gardening, the environment, or music.
    Dunster punches well above its weight.  While so many small communities are dwindling and being abandoned, Dunster recognizes the importance of “community” and fights to maintain it.

View my paintings at:

Monday 21 October 2013

The Apple Press

    The other day, Dave Milne mentioned that an apple press would be in Dunster on Sunday to grind up apples and squeeze them into juice.  Dave, who enjoys making wine, had ordered several boxes of apples and was having them turned into juice, so he could make apple wine.  Others just wanted the fresh apple juice.
    It was a beautiful sunny fall afternoon, Joan and I had nothing planned so we drove out to the tiny hamlet of Dunster to watch.  Jeff, a local man, made the press and had access to boxes of apples, and had hauled both up to Dunster from the Okanagan Valley (a very productive apple producing area in BC), and had taken apple orders from people.  The juicing was already in progress by the time we arrived.
    The process was all very low tech and was powered by human energy.  Apples were put into the wooden bin in the top, they dropped down onto a wheel that ground them up.  Harold, there in the blue shirt, is turning the crank to turn the grinder.  The apple pulp then falls into the far wooden bucket which is mostly hidden in the photo.
    When that bucket is full, it is placed in front,  beneath the press.  Pressure is put on the pulp, buy turning the big black screwed vertical rod that you see,  that slowly presses down a board onto the pulp which squeezes the juice from the apple pulp which flows into the white plastic bucket.

    Fortunately bystanders, like Joan and I, were allowed to sample the fresh apple juice.  The delicious nectar was just like drinking a fresh apple.  It was a glorious afternoon, spent with people I like, reviving an ancient process, that made a delicious and healthy product.  I felt fortunate to be able to witness it.

Sunday 20 October 2013

Do Say Do, Deja Vu

    I no longer remember the reason why; I maybe wanted an easy credit, or it was the only phys. ed class that would fit into my schedule, but for whatever reason, one semester in university I took a course in “Folk and Square Dancing”.  I was surprised at how much fun it was.  So when Joan and I moved to McBride, way back in 1977 and were eager to meet people and become part of the community, we joined the local square dancing group.
    Once again I really enjoyed the exercise, the rapid thinking required to hear the calls and remember the moves, and most of all, all the laughing as everyone turned one way, while I mistakenly headed off in the opposite direction.  We eventually stopped square dancing,when there started to be a scheduling conflict with the local art council meeting, which I was really interested in, and after a few years, the “Country Turners”, which the local square dancers called themselves, stopped dancing.
    Just recently, our friend Monica decided to start up the activity again.  She tracked down the old Country Turner’s organizers, and was given all of their old records, and antique record player.  We had the first reincarnation last Thursday in the elementary school gym.  Each “square” requires 4 couples, and we lacked just one person to make up 2 squares.  More people are planning to come next Thursday.
    One of my friends just laughed at us when we told him we were square dancing (I don’t think square dancing has too much of a “Cool” factor to the mainstream public), but it was a really fun evening.  A wide variety of friendly people, timidly started from scratch with the instruction record, and by the end of the evening we were all winded, but happy that we were competent enough to listen to the calls we learned and make the correct moves without too many mistakes.  It will be an enjoyable way to stay active through the long winter.

Take a look at my paintings:

Saturday 19 October 2013

Fog and Smoke

    The visibility hasn’t been very good in the Robson Valley over the last couple of days.  There has been fog in the morning, and smoke the rest of the day.  Yesterday morning we drove up to Prince George and encountered dense fog almost the entire 135 miles (217 km).  The CBC radio told of many flights being cancelled at the PG airport, because of the non visibility.   I was told that in Prince George, which is located in a bowl, that the day before, the fog stuck around all day long.  Luckily, in the Robson Valley it burns off later in the morning.
    The smoke, however, does not.  Around McBride, it sometimes feels like we live in a third world country, where massive amount of wood is burned just to get rid of it.  When we first moved here they carried on “slash burns” in the fall.  After clearcut logging a huge area, it was set alight to get rid of all the remaining debris.  For days, the whole valley would be filled with smoke, totally blocking out the view of the mountains and reducing the sun to a pinkish orange orb in the white sky.
    They supposedly restricted slash burns due to the air pollution it caused, but for some reason forgot to include burn biles.  Now they pile up the scrap logs and debris into huge big piles and light it. Too bad for those people who live in the valley who have allergies.

If you haven't yet seen my painting, "Burn Pile" go to:

Thursday 17 October 2013

Pickled Peppers

    I have been growing hot peppers for years.  There has always been the problem of what to do with all of them. 
    The thin skinned ones I hang and dry, to be used for spicing up chili.  The thick skinned jalapeno were frozen then used in making tacos.  The serranos (my favorite pepper) are thick skinned, but I slice them, dry them, grind them up, and sprinkle them on my side of the pizza.
    This year we tried something different.  I have been eying the big bottles of pickled banana peppers at Costco, so I got Joan to pickled some of our home grown chiles as an experiment.      
    Some of the peppers we used were quite hot, and we were worried about how they would taste, but the pickling seemed to take the heat out of them.  They are spicy and good and I enjoyed putting them on my sandwiches.
    I had a whole bucket full of peppers left after I cleaned out the greenhouse, and yesterday I sliced them up so we could make more pickled peppers.  When Joan cut up the peppers for that first batch the heat from the chiles caused severe pain on her hands for several days later.      
    Yesterday, I did all the slicing and the peppers didn’t really cause me any pain on my hands and I have learned to keep my hands away from my eyes after handling peppers.
    The photo shows my big jar of newly pickled peppers.  After a few days of marinating I will be happy to start using them on my sandwiches.

Take a look at my paintings:

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Kjell's Sauna

    Yesterday afternoon, we flushed out our waterline.  Our water comes from Sunbeam Falls and runs downhill through a 2 inch (5cm) line, providing 4 households with water.  The length of our line is 4,100 ft (1.2 km).   In the winter, to prevent the water from freezing we keep the water flowing.  It empties into Beardsley Brook, over at my neighbor’s property.  
    To flush out the line we went over there to where it empties and fully opened the valve to allow maximum flow.  This flushed out the fine sediments that built up in the line over the year.  The outflow pours out of a pipe into the pool located by the sauna, my ex-neighbor, Kjell built years ago.   I don’t think that the sauna has been used in many years, and it is starting to deteriorate.  
    Taking a sauna was something new to me when I first moved to Canada.  As a child, my mother always warned me that if I was really hot and sweaty, I should never jump into cool water.   I seems to remember her saying that you could get polio from doing that.  At any rate, not wanting to get polio, I refrained from cooling off too rapidly for most of my early life.
    It did seem strange then, when I was invited for my first sauna.  I just followed what everyone else was doing.  I stripped down, and endured the clouds of steam made from water being poured on a blazingly hot iron stove, which started me sweating profusely, and when I could no longer stand the heat, I followed the others out into the cold winter air to either roll in the snow or jump into the creek.
    Kjell, who was always the initiator to saunas, had a Norwegian background and had been doing saunas all of his life.  He never came down with polio; so pink and sweating with heat, I forced myself out into the below freezing outside temperatures and either rolled in the snow or jumped into the water.  
    While I took many saunas with friends, I never really got too the point where I really thought I needed to build a sauna for myself.  It was a comfortable social experience and I always enjoyed the nudity of the opposite sex.  It was a nice ritual for ending a day of cross country skiing or other outside winter activities, which always made me feel all warm, sleepy, and at peace.
    At one time there were several saunas in the neighborhood, all of them, like Kjell’s, are now slowly falling into disrepair.  Even Kjell seemed to loose interest in his sauna once he got a hot tub.

View my paintings at:

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Hen & Chicks: Fall Colors

    I have always liked the succulent commonly called “Hen & Chicks”.   In fact, I have even done a painting of them, but I have never paid attention to the plant during the fall.  The other day, Joan noticed the colorful plant in our little rock garden and pointed it out.  When took a close up look, I was amazed at the spectacular display of color.

See my "Hen & Chicks" and other paintings at:

Monday 14 October 2013

Thimbleberry Leaves

    The leaves have been rapidly loosing their color, but there is still some beautiful displays out there to see.  Yesterday my search was helped by some bright sunlight.  What you are looking at is a thimbleberry leaf basking in the sunshine.
    Thimbleberries seem to be a close relative of the raspberry.  Thimbleberries are a very common plant growing in the understory of the forests that surround our house.  They have a berry that looks a lot like a raspberry, and hint of the same flavor, but they are very dry.  They seem to take all the moisture out of your mouth, so we never use them for anything.  A friend’s mother calls the berries “flannel berries” because of the way they treat your mouth.
    I assume they got their name from the shape of the berries.  When they come off of the plant they could, with a bit of imagination, resemble a very thick padded thimble.

See my paintings:

Sunday 13 October 2013

Red, White, & Purple / Who Is That?

    Potatoes are the main crop in my garden.  Last year my potato crop was horrible.  We didn’t even get enough potatoes to get us through December.  This year I vowed to take extra sure that I had a bountiful crop of spuds.  I planted more than usual, and when Dave Milne had some of his left over “purple potatoes” to plant, I grabbed them and also stuck them in the ground, just in case all my other potatoes didn’t grow.
    Fortunately, all of potatoes grew and gave me a bumper crop.  The white ones and red ones reached good size (I actually have another whole wheelbarrow full of white ones not shown in the photo), I was not too thrilled with the size of the purple ones, plus they were very scabby, but they are all edible and help give us more potatoes than we need to get us through the winter.

    If you look carefully at the photo you may see two little tags which say “unnamed”.  The iPhoto program I use on my computer  for photos, has a feature that automatically picks out faces in the photos and allows you to name the people it finds, then collects those photos away under that person’s name.  It looks like the program found a couple of faces on the potatoes.

I paint, see my paintings at:

Saturday 12 October 2013


    This morning there was no wind and the pond had a mirrored surface.  I took these to shots of the reflection.

View my paintings:

Friday 11 October 2013

Flush With Success

    We have a working toilet!  While this may not be big news for most households in developed countries, it is a situation that I was beginning to think was never going to happen for us.  Just 5 minutes ago, I had to go to take whiz and walked downstairs through our dining room, and it wasn’t until I was reaching for the door knob of our back door, that my brain suddenly registered the fact, that I no longer had to go outside, because we now have a working toilet.
    This whole long sad ordeal started way back at the end of July, when we finally got fed up with how our old toilet was working (actually we were fed up with how it was not working) and decided to buy a new one.
    Our local hardware store in McBride didn’t have any toilets on display, which meant we would have had to order one without seeing it.  So we drove to a big box building supply store in Prince George who had a big selection of toilets on display and began to make our choice.
     Because our bathroom is very small and compact, we had to get a toilet that was less than 28.5 inches (72 cm) from the front of the bowl to the wall.  Any bigger and we wouldn’t be able to open our shower door fully.  We were also looking for one with a lot of flush power.
   We did find a Kohler toilet that met both of those needs and had a nice design as well.  We bought it, drove it home, and I installed it.  I worked wonderfully, but then we started to noticing that it had a problem in its tank; water often continued to run into the tank, and wouldn’t turn off, or sometimes the tank would quietly and unexpectedly drain, leaving us with no flush when we pressed the lever.
    Dismayed, I un-installed it and took it back to the Prince George store.  I wasn’t sure if used toilets could be returned, but they said on the phone that they could, so I gave them the flawed one and they gave me another new Kohler, which I drove home and installed. 
    This one worked fine for a day, then the first time it was required to do a bit of “heavy lifting” it failed, and from then on, instead of the powerful rush of water, so characteristic of these new breed of toilets, it weakly flushed and the bowl would just slowly fill up. 
    I thought maybe it just wasn’t aligned properly over the sewer pipe on the floor, so I un-installed it, and checked.  Everything was fine.  The sewage pipe was empty, so that hadn’t been the problem, and it had been centered correctly over it.  I took the toilet outside, I forced water through the toilet  with a hose to see if there was a clog in the “No Clog” toilet, but could find no problem.
    I re-installed the Kohler, but again, when I flushed it, it just slowly filled up with water instead of giving the powerful flush.  I was pretty mad.  I was leaving in a week and a half for Indiana from Prince George, at that time would return this one to the store.  In the meantime, Joan and I just had to use the outhouse.  On the day of our flight, I returned the toilet, and decided that on our return, we would have to buy another new one, but it wasn’t going to be a Kohler.
    Upon our return, we were tired, but we went to three different stores in Prince George in hopes of finding a toilet.  We failed.  They were all too long or not powerful, or floor models which weren’t complete, so we drove back to McBride empty handed. 
    I immediately, started looking at the toilets available at our local hardware store from their online catalogue.  There was a wide selection, but again, it was extremely hard to find one that met our requirements.  Eventually, I discovered an American Standard model, Cadet Pro, that seemed to be a likely candidate, but its dimensions from front to wall wasn’t given, and I ended up sifting thought scores of Google hits before I finally found that information.
    I ordered the thing, and then we waited for a week.  During that week, we made use of our outhouse with its non-fail technology, and Joan painted the bathroom (several times).
    The toilet came on Weds.  It looked good, although it didn’t come with a toilet seat, meaning another trip down to the hardware store.  I was impressed with how easy it was to install, (I have gained a lot of toilet installing experience) and American Standard supplied some really helpful tools.      
    Amazing, it works!  It is quiet, and the tank is insulated inside, so that the cold mountain water doesn’t cause condensation on the outside of the tank.  It uses very little water, and the seat is higher, which is a good thing for us aging seniors.  
    What a heavy burden has been lifted from my shoulders now that this ordeal has finally ended, especially now that the weather outside is getting colder and more miserable.  It was such a pain to go outside in the middle of the night.

See my paintings:

Thursday 10 October 2013

A Robson Valley Autumn

    The colors of autumn are such a fleeting thing and they change daily.  I have been snapping photos whenever I see those colors highlighted by an interesting fall of light.  Above is a shot I took of airport road, looking back toward McBride.  The trees along this dip in the road always seem to have brightly colored leaves and I end up taking this shot every fall.
    Below is a cluster of multicolored leaves on the forest floor that I saw this morning along our walk down the trail.

View my paintings at:

Wednesday 9 October 2013

A Dangerous Place

    There is probably no place on earth that doesn’t possess some potential danger.  Urban centers have their traffic, seashores are full of risks, deserts can be lethal, and tropical “paradises” are full of deadly possibilities.  Those of us that live in this mountainous and wild area have heard many sad stories about people who have died out in these beautiful surroundings.
    The BC news is constantly full of reports of searches for, and recoveries of, people who were out recreating and ended up in situations that led to their demise.  Over the last two days I have been hearing reports of two men who got lost while out mushroom picking.  After 15 days, one managed to wander onto a railroad track and was rescued, the other is still missing and presumed dead.
    This time of year is particularly dangerous, because of wet weather, an unexpected snow, or cold temperatures at night.  Mountains are known for unpredictable weather and people that go out unprepared for changing conditions can easily be killed by hypothermia when unexpected things happen.
    Canada will celebrate Thanksgiving this coming weekend.  Years ago on a Thanksgiving Day, my ex-neighbor and his son decided to take a hike up to Kinney Lake, in Mount Robson park.  I am guessing that the weather was cool and maybe a bit moist.   The hike to Kinney Lake up and back takes maybe 4 hours to complete.
    They started up the trail, and along the way came upon a young Japanese woman walking down the trail.  Kjell is a friendly guy, and would have said, “hi” to her, but strangely, she just continued to walk slowly, her head down, and didn’t acknowledge their presence, so they continued up, and didn’t think anymore about it.  
    They got to the lake, then rested a bit, and turned around and headed back down the trail.  When they got to the bottom at the parking lot, they found a man bent over the Japanese woman who was laying on the ground.  They hurried over.  The woman was dead.
    She hadn’t been warmly dressed, and being an inexperience hiker, had exhausted herself on the climb up the trail, by the time they had met her, her brain was already not functioning properly, and was just walking by muscle memory.  The cold and exertion, finally led to her body just shutting down.  My neighbor of course, felt horrible about not doing something when he met her, but didn’t realize the trouble she was in.  
    Hypothermia is just one of the dangers this time of year.  The bears are all scrambling around trying to load up with food for their winter’s hibernation.  In some parts of BC it is believed that grizzlies have started to link fresh moose meat with the sounds of gunshots, and make a beeline for the noise and catch the hunter unaware.  Several hunters have been mangled this way.
    And just the steep terrain of the mountains and the distances from help can be deadly.  A local baker slipped on moss at the edge of a steep slope, and was killed when he landed in a tree.  He had his keys in his pocket and his daughter couldn’t get to him and had to walk all the way back to town for help.
    Cell phones have been a great help for people in precarious situations, but in most of the areas around here there is no cell phone coverage.  Best be careful if you head out into the mountains this time of year.

See my paintings at:

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Old Paint

    I have difficulty in throwing things away, always thinking that if I save it, someday I might be able to use it.  As a result, I have lots partial cans of paint stacked under the house, where they are protected from freezing.
    Since we no longer have a toilet (hopefully, the one we ordered will come in tomorrow) we thought we should take advantage of the empty bathroom by painting it.  The bathroom was sort of a hospital room green color, and at first we decided that maybe a light blue might be our new color, but then we thought about what a cold color blue is and how cold really wasn’t what we wanted to feel when we went in to take a shower during the winter, so we decided to go with a yellow.  We went down to the hardware store and picked up some color swatches of the yellow hues.
    We chose a very light yellow color, but when Joan painted on a few brush strokes it became apparent that it was not going to cover the green color in one coat.  She wondered if we had any white primer under the house.  I checked, and we did have half a can.
    It was very difficult to open the old can of paint, and I pretty much had to destroy the lid to get it off.  The primer seemed pretty thin, but Joan used it to paint over the green.  She had to paint on the primer twice.   Then she painted another few strokes of our new yellow paint to see what that looked like.  It seemed too light a shade, and we decided that we needed a bit deeper yellow, so we decided that we should just buy new can of the deeper yellow.
    Then Joan asked if we had any of the yellow paint that we had used in our kitchen, left over and stored under the house.  I remembered seeing some when I was looking yesterday, so I went down and grabbed it.  We had half a can, and it was about the same shade as the new paint we were going to buy for the bathroom.
    “Great,” I thought, “I’m glad I saved this, now we don’t have to buy a new can.”
    I opened the old can and began to stir.  The pigments had really thickened, so I had to stir hard.  I would push the stir stick down, through the thick yellow sludge, to the bottom of the can, then move it sideways and try to get it to mix.  I did this for a while, then decided that the paint had too many lumps that would probably never disappear no matter how much stirring I did.  I didn’t trust the old paint, so we decided just to buy a new can at the Hardware store.
    I had done the stirring on the kitchen counter and was careful not to slop any paint over the top of the can.  I put the lid back on the can and carried it out and put it on the carport.  When I came back in I noticed about 10 blobs of yellow paint on the kitchen counter right where the can sat, and some more on the kitchen floor, and through the pantry where I had just carried the old can of yellow paint.  I went out side and lifted the can, and saw that the bottom of the can was leaking paint.  I guess my pressing the stir stick down had broken through the rust-weakened  bottom of the can.
    I cleaned up the mess I had made, and decided that even though it seemed wasteful, from now on I wasn’t going to save partial cans of paint.  We never seem to reuse it and if we do, it is often of questionable quality and most of it just ends up sitting in deteriorating cans under the house for years until it is finally thrown away.  It’s better just to throw it away as soon as we are finished with the job.

See my paintings at:

Monday 7 October 2013

Poblano Peppers

    Every year I grow a variety of hot peppers in the greenhouse.  This year for the first time, I grew some poblano peppers.  They are big, mild, and Mexico’s most popular pepper.  I had a good crop, which then left me with the question:  Now what do I do with them?
    They are most commonly used in a casserole dish called “Chile Relleno” where they are combined with egg and cheese.  Fortunately, Joan is creative and talented cook, and put together several recipes, and we ended up with a wonderfully tasty chile relleno last night for supper. 
    One of the more unusual things that has to be done to the peppers before you end up with the chile relleno is that the saran wrap-like skin of the pepper has to be removed.  To do this you have to burn the pepper, then while it is still hot, put it in a closed plastic bag to steam.  I used our grill to do this, but the burning had to be redone because I didn’t let them burn enough.  
    It was strange to have the raw peppers cooking on the barbecue.  It seemed like I was grilling some delicious new food rather than just burning them so we could strip their skin off, but the resulting casserole was a tasty treat, and I will for sure, continue to grow poblanos next year.

    In the photo below you will also see some anaheim peppers on the grill.  I don’t think you really have to burn them, but we had some and so we just gave them the same treatment.

Check out my paintings:

Sunday 6 October 2013

Autumn Leaves

     A few weeks ago when we left the Robson Valley for our trip to Indiana, I was afraid that I was going to miss the colors of autumn that I enjoy so much.  On our return to the central interior of BC, looking down from the plane window as we circled for a landing in Prince George it was gratifying to see that the aspen and birch leaves were still colored, in fact they had not yet reached their prime.
    Unlike the midwestern US with its orange and red maples, up here with our aspen, birch, and cottonwood we are pretty much restricted to seeing yellows, but that can be quite striking against the blues of the lakes, mountains, and sky.  Today is wet, grey, and gloomy, so I am featuring some photos I took a couple of days ago.

See my paintings at: 

Saturday 5 October 2013

How To Eat Corn On The Cob

    To anyone looking at my desk or my room, it would appear that I am not a very orderly person.  I have pretty much accepted that it is true, but I in some things, I do strive toward order.  One of those things is the way that corn on the cob is eaten.  I was reminded of this on my recent trip to Indiana (corn country).
    Although it was the end of the season, I was happy to discover that roasting ears of corn were still available, and we were served corn on the cob on several occasions.  I found it very upsetting to discover the way some of my own family members, ate corn on the cob. 
    These relatives (all of who grew up in Indiana, and will remain nameless) had fully functioning teeth, so that was not the problem, but the photo above shows how they mangled an ear of corn--a bite here, a partial bite there, what a chaotic mess.  It really drove me kind of crazy to see how their corn was eaten.
    When it comes to eating corn on the cob, I seek order.  I firmly believe that one should pick out 3-4 rows of kernels, start on one end and work your way down the rows.  See the example below.  This leaves a very orderly and dignified  cob at the end of the meal, not the splotchy mess like you see above.
    I realize that is blog is very ill timed, and would have been better posted at the beginning of the corn eating season, because those violators of correct corn eating will have probably forgotten this lesson by the time next years corn hits the plates.  I do hope that they will retain some fragment of thought about this faux pas and the next time they see an ear of corn on their plate they will treat it with a bit more dignity.

See my paintings at:

Friday 4 October 2013

Cone Crop

    Yesterday, while I was admiring the yellow leaves of autumn, I noticed the especially heavy cone crop on this spruce tree.  I can’t remember ever seeing a spruce so heavily laden.  During my many years working at the BC Forest Service, the silviculture people would often talk about the cone crop.  They were in charge of replanting and had to gather cones to start the seedlings.
    In the early days of my forestry career, they would sometimes go out in the spring with a rifle to shoot off the green cones from the top of trees to check their progress.  Later they would hire a crew to cut down good trees and gather the sticky green cones which were sent off to a tree nursery and grown into seedlings that were used to replant logged out areas.  
    I realize that sometimes when a tree is great stress it puts out a lot of fruit just in case it is their last chance.  I am assuming that this tree is putting out so many cones because this summer has been such a good one for growing.

You can see my paintings at:

Thursday 3 October 2013

Zucchini--They Keep On Giving

    Two months ago, I showed a photo of me holding a giant zucchini that we harvested from out garden  (
I really expected that chapter of our lives was over for the year, but yesterday I was out in the garden digging potatoes and pulling up corn plants and ended up over by our two zucchini plants.
    They had been killed by a frost during the two weeks I was in Indiana, but they had one last gift to give before their demise.  Just look at those suckers.  The one on the left weighed in at 13.4 lbs. (6 kg) and the one on the right is 16.2 lbs (7.3 kg).  They are by far the biggest ones I have ever seen.

Take a look at my paintings: