Saturday 30 November 2013


    Yesterday when I got home from my trip to Prince George, Joan shocked me by saying that a package of luncheon meat had been stolen from our truck when she was parked in McBride.  I find it  disgusting that such a dastardly act would take place in tiny rural McBride where everyone knows everyone else.  Here is what happened;
    Joan drove into town along with our new dog Skye.  Joan left Skye in the cab of our pickup truck and went into the grocery and bought 200 grams of luncheon meat.  She returned to the truck and placed the package of meat on the passenger seat of the truck, then left the truck to do some further shopping.
    Upon her return to the truck she discovered the empty plastic bag from the meat (it is shown above we have tagged it “EXHIBIT A”) had been moved and the meat was gone.   The crime has a couple of mysterious aspects to it:
  1. It is strange that the thief left the wrappings on the seat.  I would have thought that the whole package would have been grabbed and taken away.
  2. This whole crime took place while our dog Skye was inside the truck.  Even though Skye is really a friendly dog, I would have suspected that anyone looking into the truck would have seen the dog and would have been hesitant about opening the door and unwrapping the meat, while a dog was there.
    We felt sorry for Skye.  Joan said that when she returned to the truck Skye was sitting in the passenger seat and looked terribly guilty.  Evidently, she felt bad about not doing a better job of protecting the meat from the thief.

I paint every day, you can see the results at:

Thursday 28 November 2013

Good News, Bad News

    If you read yesterday’s blog you are probably assuming I am on my way driving to Prince George so I can return the rental car and get my car back.  There has been a change in the plan. 
    When I woke up this morning ready for the trip, I turned on the radio and heard that Hwy. 16 from McBride to Prince George had slippery sections and huge sections of freezing rain.  That is not anything I wanted to deal with for 135 miles, particularly with a 2 wheel drive rental car, so I made the decision that I would just stay home, and hope that the conditions will improve by tomorrow.
    That means I get to have my regular morning; going for a walk on the trail, painting, and doing the blog.  Unfortunately it also means having to make the drive tomorrow, and having to pay an extra day on the rental car which is sitting in our carport.  I hope everyone out there crosses their fingers for good luck and clear roads for me tomorrow.
    I hope readers in the US are having a tasty Thanksgiving today.

Take a peek at my paintings:

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Another Prince George Adventure

     I have mentioned before that every time I have to make the 135 mile (217 km)  drive to Prince George (our nearest large center) it turns out to be an adventure.  Today’s trip was no exception.  The last time we went I got a service done on the car.  I mentioned to the dealer that I was smelling hot oil every time I stopped, and asked if they could check to see what the problem was.  
    After the service, the woman at the desk told me that both head gaskets were starting to leak oil.  This was something that my cousin had told me was a common fault of Subaru’s.  I asked how big of a deal it was to fix, and was told that it would take 3/4 of a day.  I mulled this information over for a few weeks.  
    Since a good deal of our driving is on fairly deserted and lonely highways, and I don’t like to take chances with having the car break down in the middle of nowhere, I checked the weather reports to find a day without snow to make the trip to I could get the gaskets replaced.  I made the appointment Monday for the work to be done today.
    I had to get up early this morning leaving in the dark a little before 7:00.   Joan always insists that I take her iPhone along in case of an emergency, so I stuffed it into my pocket.  While I am fairly proficient with most technology, I don’t have a cell phone and always feel a bit unknowledgeable when I have to use Joan’s cell phone.
    I had gotten out of McBride and was approaching LeGrande, when I heard the phone start to ring.  I pulled over to the side of the road and started trying to get at the phone.  In the winter I always wear a lot of layers.  The phone was in my shirt pocket, which was beneath a sweater, a fleecy jacket, and a windbreaker.
    I had a time digging the phone out from under all those layers, but finally succeeded.  As I looked down at the screen I realized that everything was blurry and I needed to get my glasses to see what was going on.  I didn’t even remember bringing any glasses, but I usually have a pair in some pocket somewhere.  This meant searching all the pockets in my windbreaker and the fleecy, underneath the windbreaker.  I cursed as I fumbled with the phone and tried to find my glasses.
    Then I heard a voice from the iPhone.  It was Siri, Apple’s ‘know it all’ phone voice.  She said to me, “I don’t understand the term ‘F--K”.
    I don’t know why she was listening, maybe I pressed a button or something, but she had heard my cursing and was trying to help.  I couldn’t help but to laugh out loud at the situation.  When I was able to finally read the message, I discovered that the message wasn’t for me at all, it was from our friend Di, who was sending a message to Joan.
    That episode being over I pulled back onto the highway and proceeded toward Prince George.  About 45 minutes later, I stopped again and looked back at the sunrise that was starting to color the eastern skyline and took the photo above.
    The highway to Prince was in remarkably good condition, so I arrived at the Subaru service centre a little after 9:00.  I went up to the service counter handed over my key and ask how long the procedure would take, and thus began the second adventure of the day.
    Jerry, the mechanic happened to be standing there and he told me it would take “about a day and a half.”  I was shocked.  That is not what I had been told initially, and I was planning to drive back to McBride later today.  I told them I had been erroneously informed on my previous visit and I was at a loss as to what to do.  It meant I would have to stay in Prince George all day, sleep in a motel overnight, and hang around half a day tomorrow waiting for the car.  I didn’t like that idea at all, a few hours in P.G. is plenty for me.  I wondered out loud about the trains schedule which travels toward McBride one day and back toward Prince George the next.
    Then the Subaru people told me they would go halves on a rental car for me, which would allow me to drive back to McBride today and return tomorrow to pick up the car.  That would be cheaper than motel room and meals, and would allow me to have a bit of productive time at home rather than twiddling my thumbs in PG.  So that is what I did.    
    I got a rental (they charged me $10 extra because it has snow tires, even though it is the law in BC).  I drove around PG and did what shopping I had to do and then drove back to McBride, where I now sit doing this blog.  I am happy to be back home, but it means tomorrow I will have to again spend most of the day driving up to Prince George and back.

When I am not having to drive up to PG I paint.  See my paintings at:

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Skye vs Mac

    I know I am probably coming off like a new parent, who can only discuss one topic, but in my defense, our new dog Skye is, at present, the most interesting thing that has been happening in our lives.  Today I wanted to talk about some of the behavioral differences I’ve noticed between Skye and our previous dog, Mac.
    Walking down the tarmac at the McBride airfield was one of Mac’s favorite activities, so we were eager to let Skye experience it.  Because it is an open space, Mac’s keen vision could spot  deer on the sidelines at a great distance and he spent a lot of time checking out all of the wild animal smells.  
    Skye too, immediately spotted the deer, and liked the smells, but where Mac would immediately make a beeline toward the deer, causing us to really yell forcefully before he would turn around and come back (actually, he wouldn’t always come back, despite all our yelling).  Skye, who is much better behaved, walked over in their direction, but not very far and she quickly returned at our request.
    The big difference between the two dogs is how often they pee.  Mac, being a male, was a peeing machine, who seemed to stop at every other clump of grass.  It was a characteristic we got used to, since all of our previous dogs have been male, whose main occupation in life seemed to be marking their territory.  When we got Skye who is a female, we immediately started worrying because it seemed to us she would never pee.  Was there something wrong with her?  Instead of 80 pee stops at the airfield, Skye only stopped and peed once.
    Mac always took off way out in front of us until we had to call him back.  Skye stuck close to us and continually circled around us.  Joan said this was a characteristic often seen in herding dogs.  
    Mac was a real snow dog and loved to pounce and leap around in the white fluffy stuff.  I think snow is something new to Skye, but every day when I go outside and get rowdy with her, she seems to enjoy it more and more.  She loves tearing through the snow and, like Mac, is now starting to take bites of it in her mouth.
    Mac, who loved to play, was always up for a game and I have been happy to discover that Skye also, loves to pick up objects, dart around, tearing and zig-zagging through the snow, and to be chased.  This was one of the characteristics that caused us to look for a “sheep dog” breed, and I am happy we have found it in Skye.

See my paintings:

Monday 25 November 2013

The Schnoz

    Look at the photo of our new dog.  Now squint your eyes, doesn’t it look like Skye has a tremendously big nose?  When we first saw photos of her on the adoption website, I thought, “Man, look at the schnoz on that dog, surely something is wrong with the photo, her nose can’t be that enormous.”
    When we did finally get to see the dog in person, we were relieved to see that she had a normal sized nose, it was just the dark colorization of the fur around it that made it look so big.   Even though she has totally taken over our hearts, I still have to admit at from a distance she does appear to have a funny looking face, with her “big nose” and the dark “eye liner” that surrounds her  big sad eyes.

I paint every morning, see all of my paintings at:

Sunday 24 November 2013

Christmas Fair Season

    I have spent the last two Saturdays sitting behind a table piled high with my 2014 cartoon and trivia calendars, touting the benefits of the calendars in an attempt to get potential customers to part with their hard earned money.   A big-time capitalist, I am not, but I seem to be a fair hawker, because my inventory is rapidly shrinking.  I did especially well yesterday at the McBride Christmas Fair, selling more than $440 worth of calendars during the event.
    Beside providing the opportunity for people to sell the things they have created, the fairs provide a great setting for socializing, and catching up with people that you otherwise rarely run into.  I enjoy having people leaf through my calendars and laugh, even if they don’t buy one.  People always tell me interesting stories about the calendars.
    One woman mentioned she had to buy one or her son, who has a collection of them from past years would be very disappointed if he didn’t get one for 2014.  An older man in Valemount came up and said he wanted a 2013 calendar and I told him he was a year late.  He replied he missed the fair last year and had to go through all those months without one.  Another woman always buys one for a cousin who lives in Ontario, who has the same last name as I do.  She even made me autograph the calendar.
    Now that the Valemount and McBride Christmas Fairs have concluded, I can relax a bit.  I have recovered the cost of printing the calendars and I am in to profit territory.  While there are no more Christmas Fairs, McBride’s Whistle Stop Gallery in the train station will continue to sell them for me.

Check out my paintings:

Saturday 23 November 2013

Estranged Bedfellows

    One of the big questions we faced ever since we considered getting a new dog was “How will it get along with Lucifer, our haywire cat?”  Luckily, Skye is a very easy-going dog, and in the information we got from the animal shelter, she got along well with cats.  “With cats,” maybe, but what about our she-devil, Lucifer?
    When we brought Skye home we were careful not to just thrust her into the house to confront Lucy.  We tried to create a situation where they would see each other from afar and in a calm situation.  That seems to have worked--so far no battles.  The only time there was any kind of hostility was when Skye was tearing around the yard with me playing around in the snow, and inadvertently got too close to Lucifer, who was watching the wild chaos.  Lucy arched her back and hissed, and Skye immediately skidded to a halt and backed off without even a bark.
    They still haven’t touched noses, but they a keep out of each others personal space.  We have a counter that juts out into the area between the kitchen and the rest of the house.  Skye was lying right in the middle of the walkway watching Joan and I working in the kitchen.  The cat was on the kitchen floor wanting to go to the living room, but seeing Skye laying there, she decided “better safe, than sorry,” so he just jumped up on the counter, walked to the other side, and jumped down, thus avoiding getting close to the dog.
    On Skye’s first night with us, we weren’t sure where she was going to sleep, but she was.  Joan climbed into bed, and Skye did too, like she had been sleeping there all her life.  The cat often comes onto the bed in the morning, and when she leaped there up this morning, she got quite a surprise to see Skye’s big face right in front of her.  She immediately jumped back down and left the room.  
    With a little coaxing, we got her to eventually return and join us.  As you can see in the photo she  did get back onto the bed, despite the big hairy beast still being there.  They just kept an uneasy eye on each other, but it looks like they are slowly adjusting to each others presence.

See my paintings:

Friday 22 November 2013

Fifty Years Ago

    I was 15 years old.  It was a big day for me--No classes!  As a member of North High School’s Concert Choir, I was among those in the choir who were traveling up the big city of Indianapolis to give a series of concerts in some high schools up there.  I don’t remember anything about the concerts, but I will always remember that when we arrived at one of the schools ready to give an afternoon concert, we were told by some of the students who were there that President Kennedy had been shot.
    I didn’t believe them.  I figured the big city kids were just trying to put something over on us country bumpkins, but as the day progressed, I kept hearing news of the killing from different sources and I began to think that maybe it had happened.  Sometime before we left Indianapolis in the evening,  I managed to buy a newspaper (above) and seeing the news in print erased any doubt in my mind about the event.
    During the 1960 presidential election my parents were Republicans, and they had voted for Nixon instead of Kennedy.  Taking my cue from them and being politically naive, I thought myself as a Republican also, so when the results came in, I was disappointed that Kennedy won the presidency, but most of the nation quickly fell in love with the Kennedy, and I too started to admire the man and the freshness that he brought to the office.  I remember laughing at the parody album, “The First Family” by Vaughn Meader, that comically poked fun at the Kennedy family’s personal life in the White House and their unusual accents.  
    My growing idealism made me support the Kennedy program of the Peace Corps, and the actions he took to try to end racial segregation in the South.  It was a terrible shock to me when he was murdered.  I think the fact that I still have this newspaper shows how much it effected me.  Every time I see the clip of Walter Cronkite, the news anchorman, look up at the clock then try not to choke up as he tells the world that President Kennedy is dead, I still choke up myself.
    Years later, after living in Canada for many years, I saw a television show about Kennedy, and was again shocked upon seeing how articulate, witty, and intelligent he was when answering questions compared to the string of mediocre presidents the US had elected at the time.
    I have always been touched by a couple of songs that refer to the event.  The Byrds on their “Turn, Turn, Turn” album did a song called, “He Was A Friend of Mine”, and more recently I discovered the Billy Joel song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” where he frantically lists all the big news events of the fifties onward, and when I first heard him end one of the verses with “JFK blown away, what more do I have to say?” I was really struck, it summed up for me just how crazy the world is.  
    Even though I am very excited about our new dog, and I would love to talk about her, I felt I had to make some acknowledgement of the event that so shook me and the world fifty years ago today.

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Thursday 21 November 2013

An Ordeal, But Worth It

    Ever since our old dog Mac died, a year and a half ago, friends, knowing how much we missed him, have been telling us to get another dog, but it took us a long while to get over our grieving.  We really liked Mac’s personality, fun-loving, big hearted, friendly, and laid-back.  He was mostly an Old English Sheepdog, so we decided that if we got another dog, we would like one that had similar traits.  I had made some inquires with several breeders a year ago.  I checked out Old English Sheepdogs, Polish Sheepdogs, and Bearded Collies, but none of the breeders had pups, and I really felt like it would be good to rescue a dog rather than buy from a breeder.
    At any rate, we weren’t yet ready for another dog, but then as fall approached we started checking out dog rescue sites on the internet.  Again we sort of looked for those above mentioned breeds.  We found some likely  prospects, but they were all so far away (Los Angeles, Houston, Minnesota), that we didn’t  really inquire further.  Our searches became rather infrequent.
    Then last week, before I went to sleep, I had my iPad and had run out of news and weather websites to look at, and I remembered “”, and when it opened and wanted to know what breed I was looking for, I just put in “Bearded Collie” I pressed search, up popped photo of a dog named “Skye” who was being held at Chilliwack, BC.  Skye was just the kind of dog we were looking for and Chilliwack was a do-able destination.  It is down in the lower mainland not too far from Vancouver.
    Next day I told Joan about it, and she checked out Skye.  Like me, she thought that the dog would be a really good fit for us, and so we sent an email to the Chilliwack Animal Shelter and got a quick reply.  We filled out the application to see if we were responsible people for adopting a dog, and I we passed, so the next hurdle was getting down there.
    Winter driving is a scary proposition up here.  The roads are often very slippery, and full of trucks.  It is not something I do lightly, and the trip down to Chilliwack meant a whole day of being on the icy roads.  We checked the weather forecasts all along the way to see what days would be best for making the trip.  Finally I decided that it would be best to drive down Tuesday and return on Weds.  There were no guarantees that we would take Skye, but she seemed a likely prospect.
    Tuesday’s drive was horrendous.  The highways were covered with hard-pack snow (basically ice).  In some places there was slush and very little pavement.  It was a white-knuckle drive all the way until we got off of the Coquihalla Highway (once the subject of the TV show “Highways to Hell”).  It winds and climbs through high mountain passes, complete with cannon mounts to shoot down avalanches.  Instead of driving the speed limit (100-110 km/hour) we had to drive about 80 Km/hr (50 miles/hr).  The photo above shows the ice buildup on our car.
    We left McBride in the dark at 7:00 in the morning.    The temperature was -14C (+6 F).  It was a snowy white world the whole way until we finally came down off the Coquihalla and into the Fraser Valley.   It seemed like we had entered another world.  Everything was green, the pavement was bare, the temperatures mild and above freezing.
    We arrived in Chilliwack around 3:15 and drove to the Chilliwack Animal Shelter, and Erin, the woman we had been communicating with came out with a hairy gray and black, big-eyed beauty named Skye.  We were allowed to take her for a walk at a nearby park.  She seemed very shy and uneasy, but we really liked her and told Erin that we would take her, and would pick her up the following morning, before heading back north.  
    “Skye” was just the name given to her at the animal shelter, and so we spent the night trying to come up with a new name for the dog.  By the next morning we had settled on “Maisie” which seemed to fit the subdued dog we had chosen.  We were at the shelter first thing yesterday, and when Erin brought the dog out, it exploded with energy, racing around the yard.  We signed the papers for “Maisie”, got her into the car and headed north.
    As we drove we realized we were still calling the dog “Skye” and she answered to it, and “Skye” seemed to be a better fit for all the energy we had seen in her that morning, than “Maisie”, so “Skye” is our new dog’s name.
    The trip back was a whole lot better.  The temperatures were colder, but the sky was sunny and clear and we had dry pavement for about half of our trip.  There were some dangerous times though.  Because we had gotten a late start in the morning, we had to drive the last leg in the dark.
    In between Avola and Blue River, in the dark, we saw a line up of 4 tractor trailer trucks approaching us, and as they began to pass by, from our side of the highway, a deer ran out in front of us.  It slipped a bit on the icy highway but made its way in front of us, and luckily made it in front of the 3rd truck.  Winter driving is scary stuff.
    Fortunately, we made it home safely and introduced Skye to her new home, and her new housemate, Lucifer the cat.  We kept them apart, both were curious, but so far there have been any fights.
    Below is a photo Joan with Skye, our new family member.

Monday 18 November 2013

The Snow Arrives

    Even though we didn’t get any snow during those days when we had the “Snow Warning”, the white stuff did begin falling yesterday, and continued throughout the night.  This was not a big snow storm, but just a steady gentle snowfall.  We haven’t gotten a whole lot, only about 4 inches (10 cm).  It is enough for me to shovel the driveway, so that if the snow continues, I won’t be faced with a overwhelming task later.  

Visit my website to see my paintings:

Sunday 17 November 2013

A Trip to Valemount

    Yesterday was the Valemount Christmas Fair.  SInce I have 180 calendars all printed up and need to sell them, I made the 1 hour drive yesterday.  I was happy to discover that Highway 16 from McBride to Dunster was clean dry pavement.  Then from Dunster to Valemount, the highway was covered with ice.  So I had to slow down and use 4 wheel drive.  Once I got to Highway 5 for the last leg to Valemount the highway was still icy, but they had put some salt down so at least the surface was not glazed.
    When I go to the Valemount Christmas Fair I always see acquaintances that I only run into once a year--at the Valemount Christmas Fair.  I had a lot of people tell me that the first thing they look at when they get the newspaper is my cartoon.  One older gent came up to my table and said he wanted a 2013 calendar.  I told him he was a year too late.  He replied that he hadn’t made it to the Christmas Fair last year and had to go the whole year without one of my calendars.  Those kind of comments always make me feel needed.
    My sales weren’t as good as usual and that seemed to be the case with most of the venders there.  This coming Saturday is the Christmas Fair in McBride, so that will give me another chance to unload some calendars.

See my paintings at:

Friday 15 November 2013

Where's the Snow?

    Sometimes I think that I can control the weather.  It seems that every time I open my mouth to say something about what the weather is going to do, the opposite happens.  Yesterday, was a pretty good example of my powers.  By dragging out all my snow equipment and making a public statement about the snow warning and the 20 cm (8 in) of predicted snow, the entire storm stopped, just so I would be publicly embarrassed.
    As you can see from the photo, there is no snow, even though again today, the weather bureau has put the Robson Valley under another snow warning.

Take a look at my paintings:

Thursday 14 November 2013

At The Ready

    When my clock radio went off this morning, they started the weather report with news that McBride was under a “Snow Warning”  with snow beginning later today with an expected accumulation of 20cm (8 inches.)  As soon as we finished our morning walk, I went out to the barn and shop to gather up all the things I would need in order to deal with that possibility.
    In one load I carried all the snow shovels and snow scoop down to the house.  They were all covered with dust and cobwebs, then went up and got my felt-pack boots. 
    This morning the temperature was just at the freezing point.  At present it has climbed to +2 C (35F) and a heavy fog has moved in, so think that I can’t see the end of the pond.
    I guess now all I am left to do is wait and see if the dump of snow actually happens.

I paint every day, you can see all of my paintings at: 

Wednesday 13 November 2013


    Because all the leaves are now gone and most everything has turned to brown or grey, I start to notice those plants that still have a bit of color.  Lungwort is a lichen, this one is growing on the surface of a downed tree.
    Because its surface somewhat resembles lungs, ancient physicians used it as a cure for pneumonia and lung disease.  I have always found it interesting how in days past, “medicine” was quite often used, based on its appearance.  
    The Gitksan people of BC gave the lungwort a name which meant “frog’s blanket’, again named because of the way it looked.  It has the scientific name:  Lobaria pulmonaria, which is one of the few scientific names that rhymes.  

I paint every day, see my paintings at:

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Morning Light

    The other day just before 8:00, when we were just setting out on our morning walk the sun was just beginning to peak over the mountains.  As it rose, I watched the rays stream through the bare trees in the forest.  
    Our trail opens up into a field down by the Fraser River.  Inspired by the light, I decided to get off of the trail and walk 50 meters further so I could stand on the banks of the Fraser and take some photos.  This is one of them.

Take a look at my paintings at:

Monday 11 November 2013

Plane Spotting

    Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at my desk.  I heard an approaching rumbling noise which got louder and louder.  At first I thought it was a big heavy truck coming down Mountainview Road, but it got so loud and close that I realized that it was something much bigger than a truck.  The loud low-pitched rumble overtook our house, at which point I knew it was a plane, but something much bigger than had ever flown over over our house before.  It was a Hercules--a big military heavy-duty transport plane.  While it didn’t land in McBride, for some reason it of circled over the valley.
    Because we live in such a remote and isolated area, we don’t see that many planes.  Even though I could say our house is located in the “flight path” of the McBride airfield, and landing planes usually arc over our place as they turn to land at the airstrip, it still doesn’t mean we see many planes.  The average is probably 2-3 planes a month, and those would all be small private planes, and it is only in the spring and summer that we see them, because during winter the tarmac is not snow-plowed.
    One small plane I do always enjoy seeing flying over is the old Tiger Moth bi-plane that is owned by our community’s long time doctor.  We see less and less of that bright yellow bi-plane, against the deep blue sky, each year, because the aging doctor can no longer fly it by himself, and has to rely on other pilots to take him up.
    I make and sell a calendar each year in which I sprinkle trivia that happened on particular days.  One of my favorite bits of trivia that I like to use is this:  “March 25, 1932-  An aeroplane was seen flying over McBride.”
    Whenever I read that fact, I think about how exciting it must have been to see an airplane moving across the sky from an isolated mountain valley without roads (only a railroad) connecting it to the outside world.  I’m sure it was probably the first airplane many of the valley residents had ever seen.  It was such a big deal, that the news made it into the front page of local newspaper.
    I felt a bit of that excitement yesterday with seeing that huge Hercules fly over.

I paint every day, see my paintings at:

Sunday 10 November 2013

Cat In The Box, Part 2

    On Wednesday I wrote about putting a box up by my desk so that Lucifer would have a place to curl up that would not be right in front of my computer.  Lucy took to the her box right away.  I noticed that when she was relaxing in her box, that she had her head up against the hard cardboard side of the container.
    “Poor cat,” I thought, “she should have something softer  to lay her head on.”
    I searched around and found a soft little pillow and put that in her box, thinking that I had done something positive to make our cat’s life more comfortable.
    I was somewhat dismayed this morning when the cat once again took her place in the box-- instead of putting her head on the pillow, she faced the other way, with her head once again against the hard cardboard and her rump against the pillow.  What a cat.

Take a look at my paintings:

Saturday 9 November 2013

A Rough Day For McBride

    We drove into McBride yesterday to do some shopping and to drop off some stuff at the dump.  It seemed no different from any other trip to town, until Joan glanced over to the side of the highway and said, “My gosh, the restaurant has burned down.”   
    There on the frontage road where the Sun Valley Restaurant used to sit was a still smoldering pile of blackened debris.  It evidently burned in the middle of the night and by the time the McBride Volunteer Fire Dept. arrived there was very little they could do.  Fortunately, the motel that sits immediately beside it was undamaged although all the patrons had to be leave their rooms.  
    It was such an unexpected sight that we were stunned.  Even though our house is located on the other side of the river, we quite often can hear sirens, but I guess because of the snow storm Thursday night, we heard nothing.  
    Joan and I proceeded on to the trash depot, then drove over to the Whistle Stop Gallery to drop off some of my 2014 calendars.  It was there that we received the second shock of the morning.
    We were discussing the restaurant fire, when we were told of an accident east of Prince George between a small car and a logging truck that killed Regina Timmons, a harp player and Robson Valley resident.  The driver (who I suspect was her husband Jake) was taken to the Prince George Hospital in critical condition, but none of the news media have given any names or updated information.
    Living in a small isolated community makes it very difficult to get news about such events even with the internet.  The Prince George news papers had photos of the terribly demolished car, but no names, even though the accident happened Thursday afternoon.  All day Friday and today, I have checked for further information, but it seemed that since they had already used the dramatic photo of the wrecked vehicle on the front page, the news no longer had much interest.
    Our Robson Valley papers only come out once a week, so if I don’t hear anything from the local grapevine, I will hopefully get more information when the local papers arrive.  
    It is very sad to hear about Regina, and I am very worried about Jake.  The accident really re-enforces the fact that we take huge risks every time we have to drive in winter to Prince George, especially on the long curvy snowy highway populated with big trucks.

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Friday 8 November 2013

The Arrival of Snow

    It’s here.  Yesterday we were getting flurries, but the only only place you could actually see the snow was on the iced over pond or the driveway.  Over night it started snowing a bit harder.  We drove into square dancing last night, and so I got reacquainted with driving at night while the falling flakes obscured the view of the road.  Night winter driving is not one of my favorite activities.
    Of course, there is no guarantee that this first snowfall will stick around.  Chances are good that we will get some rain that will make it all disappear, but hopefully, since its already sitting there, I would prefer that it just remain and continue to pile up.  I always feel better if there is a thick insulating layer of snow before really cold weather hits us.

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Thursday 7 November 2013

The Shining

    The photo shows the Fraser River shining through the trees.  While this seems like it would be a fairly common occurrence, in fact it is something that we see only during a couple of times of the year--spring and fall.  There are several of reasons for this.
    The most obvious reason is that during those seasons there are very few or no leaves on the trees.  During the summer the river can not be seen from this spot because the green jungle of leaves blocks the view.
    During the winter the Fraser is frozen so you can’t see the sparkle of water, but even if it wasn’t, you still wouldn’t be able to see the reflection because of the path of the sun.  In winter the arc of the sun is very short and doesn’t  make it this far because it sinks down behind the mountains far to the southeast of this point and can’t reflect off the water seen from this position. 
    In the summer, the path of the sun does move over this point, but it is so much higher in the sky that it is not at a low enough angle to get a direct reflection.  
    If you stop and think about things, it doesn’t take long to realize that things are a whole lot more complex than what they first appear.   The next time I see this scene might well be sometimes next spring.

I paint every day.  To see the "square" I painted today see "Current Work" on my website:

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Cat In The Box

    Way back on Dec. 27th of last year I wrote a blog about how my productivity was declining because Lucifer, our cat, was continually sitting in front of my computer monitor watching the cursor move around and obstructing my view.  I also told of my solution to the problem which was making a pile of stuff in front of the computer so the cat would have to stand elsewhere.  Almost immediately after posting the blog, my brother wrote me an email and said that if I put a box on my desk the cat would curl up in the box instead of standing in front of my monitor.
    Things move very slowly up here and just about a year later I still hadn’t given the box trick a try.  Then a few weeks ago my cousin sent me a link for a really entertaining video showing all kinds and sizes of cats trying to squeeze into all sort of small spaces.   Here is that link:

    After watching the video, I saw how much cats liked to be in small containers and I remembered the tip about putting a box on my desk for the cat.  Yesterday, while Joan and I were out in my shop, Joan, who is always trying to get rid of things, was dismantling a cardboard box, getting it ready for recycling.   
    When I realized it was just the right size for Lucifer.  I got the box and reconstructed it using some duct tape and cleared a space on my desktop and put it there, beside the computer.  This morning as I was painting my square, Lucy jumped up on the desk, sniffed around at the box and got in it and relaxed while she watched me paint.

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Tuesday 5 November 2013

Ground Pine

    “Oh look, a baby tree,” that is what my brain tells me every time I see one of these, but then it corrects itself and tells me, “No, its a ground pine.”  Despite its looks and its name, it is not a tree at all, but a club moss.  Club mosses are small evergreen vertically growing plants that sometimes resemble small conifer trees.   I spotted this one because its green color stood out amongst all the brown leaves.  Ground pines can grow up to 1 ft (30 cm) but I have never seen one that tall, this one was only 4 inches (10 cm) tall.  It likes to grow in moist forests.
    In my research I discovered that the spores powder of this plant (vegetable sulphur) is highly inflammable and was used at one time in flash photography.  Who knew.

I paint everyday.  See my paintings at:

Monday 4 November 2013


    Back in 1977 when we moved to McBride there were 4 gas stations.  This really didn’t make much difference because they all sold gas at the same price.  It did enable you to go to another gas station if one was busy.  
    Now there is only one, but there is also a “card lock” run by a Coop (photo) where members can fill up at any time of day, get a bill once a month, and get some money back every year.  Gasoline is a pretty basic necessity in isolated rural area like McBride where, there is no bus or taxi service and if you head out on Highway 16 (the only road that will take you to another community), there is no gas station for 100 miles in either direction.
    It was distressing to see all those old gas stations close.  There was one weekend when McBride’s only remaining gas station was on the verge of closing, but fortunately at the last minute, the oil company found a new manager, but the incident spooked me enough to join the Coop.  
    The price of gas has always been high around here, compared to most places in North America.  Presently, now that the summer driving season is over it is down to $1.29 / liter.  
    Years ago when the price of gas really began to spike, in rural BC there were no gas pumps that took credit cards, and there were many incidences of people filling up at self serve stations and driving away without paying.  The BC government passed a law that required people to pay before getting gas.  This didn’t work out very well in rural areas if you wanted to pay by credit card.  
    Stations made you go inside, give them your credit card to hold on to, while you went back outside to fill up.  Then you had to go back inside and pay.
    A friend of mine did this, but when he went back inside to pay and was handed the credit card back, he discovered that it wasn’t his.  His credit card had been given to some other customer who had already left.  Fortunately it was a local person and not some tourist heading down the highway. So it only took him about an hour out of his day to get his card back.   The capability of gas attendants working at the local gas station was another  reason I joined the coop.
    One difference in buying gas in the US and in BC is price competition.  In the states, various stations in an area would have various prices.  In BC it seemed that gas was always the same price no matter how many different stations there were.  One day all the stations would have one price and magically, the next day, all would have the same higher price. 
    This is especially obvious right before the first summer long weekend and the start of the summer driving season when suddenly the price jumps to a new high for the summer.  It is like they all received a shipment of more expensive gas at exactly the same time.  Amazingly, the government says there is no collusion among the oil companies.
    Fortunately, this practice has recently changed in Prince George at least, thanks to Costco starting to sell gasoline.  Suddenly, because of Costco’s cheaper gas, there is a variety of prices in the city, as some stations try to compete with Costco and others still try to flog more expensive gasoline.  

I paint every day.  See my paintings at:

Sunday 3 November 2013

Mottled Sunlight

    I have a few of my paintings sitting on easels and stands in my office so I can look at them.  The other day when I walked by them, I was amazed at how dramatic they looked as mottled sunlight fell upon them.  This darkened some sections of the painting and intensified the color in other sections.  I really loved the effect.
    I have always liked the effect of mottled sunlight on an object, usually from sunlight shining through trees, and it has been one of the things I have tried to capture in several of my painting (“Hostas” and “Hen and Chicks”) where there are subtle changes in light across the subjects.  I once I noticed this same effect on my “Old Green Truck” painting and liked it so much I took a photo and thought I should paint a new version of the painting with the mottling.  (Unfortunately I can’t find the photo right now).
    (In the photo above, the painting on the left and middle are standing on there sides rather than right side up.)

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Saturday 2 November 2013

Clouds and Mountains

    Returning from a trip to Prince George yesterday, we were both tired and just wanted to get home, but a few kilometers west of McBride I saw these two layers of cloud strung out with the Park Range of the Rocky Mountains rising up above them and had to pull over and take a photo.  There is fresh snow on the mountains, although so far we haven’t had any in the valley.
    Its a cold picture, soon to be colder once the field in the foreground is covered with snow.    

I paint every day, see my paintings at: