Friday 28 February 2014

Lonely Airport

I am sitting in the empty Prince George airport waiting for my flight to Vancouver.  Joan drove me up and dropped me off a few hours before I really needed to be here, but you never know what to expect on the two and a half hour drive to Prince George and better safe, than sorry.  The airport should be starting to fill up shortly, as we get closer to the flight time.

What you see in the photo is a view of pretty much the whole  Prince George airport.  I will be in airports and planes now for the next 18 hours.

The above was written 7 hours ago and things have changed...I arrived in Vancouver and made the long walk from the domestic end of the airport, then i had to go through security, pass through US customs, then walk to the far end of the International terminal.  When I got to the gate, I discovered that the next flight that I was supposed to take  (to San Francisco) was CANCELLED.  Do these sort of things happen to everyone, or just me?

I took my problem to the Air Canada ticket agent, who got on the computer and arranged for me to fly to Toronto.  This meant that i had to turn around retrace my steps, fill out a Welcome to Canada card and mark that i wasn't bringing in any guns, plants, or $10,000 into the country.  Canada Customs let me pass, I had to walk all the way back to the domestic flight terminal, and once again go though the security checks.  

My final destination in a round about way, is Evansville, IN.  After Toronto, I fly around Evansville to Atlanta, Georgia, then finally, tomorrow afternoon, I am supposed to land in Evansville, so as I sit here, I am pondering the fact that I still have 23 hours of waiting and flying before I arrive where I am going.

Thursday 27 February 2014

There's A Train A'Comin'

    Yesterday afternoon, Joan returned from her excursion to Jasper National Park.  I was there at the McBride train station when her train pulled in.  She said it was a spectacular journey through the Canadian Rockies, and past Mt. Robson, because of the clear skies and brilliant day.

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Wednesday 26 February 2014

In the Sunshine

    This morning, I saw Lucifer sitting on the back of the couch trying to milk all the heat she could, out of the sunshine that was streaming in the window.  We are still in the midst of a cold spell (-17C, +1F, this morning).  I did notice when I was outside in the cold, as I stood facing the sun, I could feel a bit of warmth on my face, and that gives me hope;  as days continue to get longer, the cold will find it more and more difficult to maintain its grip.

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Tuesday 25 February 2014

Third Time--Charm

    What you are looking at is the McBride Train Station.  It sits smack-dab at the end of Main Street and is the central focus of the town, which began as a stop on the railroad.  Today, the building features “The Beanery”--a bistro/coffee shop, The Whistle Stop Gallery--a sales outlet for local artists, and McBride’s Tourist Information Centre.  
    I went to the train station yesterday, for its original purpose--catching a train.  Actually, it wasn’t me who was going to get on the train, but Joan.  She was traveling to Jasper, Alberta to visit our friend, Di, and to have herself a mini-holiday--something she has been trying to do for a month now.
    During the winter, the number of travelers on the two train cars is extremely low, sometimes just one or two people.  She was all set to do the trip and when she went online to buy her ticket, she was gobsmacked to discover that the train was full.  This sounded extremely unlikely, but she had to put off the trip.
    Last week she tried again.  This time she booked her ticket ahead of time.  She was to leave Monday afternoon.  I went off in the morning to help move some hay, and when I got home, Joan was bummed out because she had gotten a call from Via Rail, saying that the train had broken down in Smithers, BC but they had a mini-bus to take her to Jasper.  Since riding on the train trip was one of the charms of the trip, and avoiding the drive on the dangerous winter highway was another reason for taking the train, Joan declined the mini-bus and once again put off the trip.
    Yesterday, her trip to Jasper finally happened.  I dropped her off at the station early, since you never quite know when the train is actually going to arrive in McBride to pick you up.  She sent me a text message last night confirming the fact that she had arrived in Jasper and was looking forward to the activities she had planned for today.

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Monday 24 February 2014

Clear and Cold

    Since it is the last week of February, I was hoping to see some sign that maybe winter would show some mercy and starting to loosen her icy grip, but no, she’s going to keep up her frigid ways, as long as she can.  This morning we woke up to -24C (-11F).  While it is nice to have the sunny clear skies during the day, I wish it would cloud over at night so that the temperatures would not plunge so low.
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Sunday 23 February 2014

Killer Moose

    Back in 1975, when I was teaching in the one-room school in the isolated logging camp, one of my numerous chores was to pick up a couple of Native Indian students who lived down on the shores of Takla Lake.  Every morning before school, I would borrow one of the company trucks and make the
2 mile (3 km) drive down to the lake to get Madelaine and Hannah, two second graders.
    I had always been very idealistic about Indians, or First Nations people as they are now called in Canada.  I admired how they lived close to the land, and felt the Earth and its animals to be sacred.  I was of course stereotyping, since I didn’t really have any first hand experience with them until I took this teaching job.
    When I got down to the house, I noticed that the whole family was outside, and the father had a rifle in his hand.  When the girls got into the truck, I asked them what was going on.  They told me that a moose and calf had been spotted in the area and that their dad was going to shoot them.  I was pretty horrified at the thought; I wasn’t sure what hunting rights Indians had, but it seemed pretty barbaric to shoot a mother and calf, since the family didn’t really need the food.
    I asked the kids why their dad was going to shoot the two animals, and was shocked when one of the girls answered:  “Moose eat people.”
    I just about drove off of the road.  
    “Moose don’t eat people, they eat plants.”  I told them.
    “No, my dad said that moose eat people,” was the rebuttal.
    Trying to break the news gently, I said, “ Well, I think that your dad is mistaken, because moose just eat plants and twigs”
    It didn’t get me anywhere with the girls.  The response was,  “My dad knows more about moose than you do.”
    I just let it go, I dropped my school teacher role and took on the bus driver role, and drove silently back to the camp with the girls.

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Saturday 22 February 2014


    One of the things I really enjoy about doing a blog and having a website is being able to see where my readers come from.  It is so interesting to see the source countries and try to imagine how in the world they landed on my site.  I assume that usually they did a search for something else, and a search engine picked up some words on my blog.
    Most of my readers are from the US, then Canada, which is understandable,  The Netherlands, Belgium, and Kenya are usually high on the list because I have friends or relatives there, but many of the other homes of readers are a mystery.  This month someone from Vietnam, visited my site, once I had a reader from Burma.
    After I did a blog about Pernilla and Emma, two Swedes who are working on a farm in McBride, they wrote about me on their blog, and Sweden became the number three country on my list that month.
    Yesterday, I happened to check on what countries people were coming from, and I was surprised to find that South Africa had jumped to number 3.  Then I happened to notice that the blog I did, exactly one year ago, about my musician friend, Brad Strang was the most visited blog for the week.  Suddenly, I figured out what had happened.
    Brad recently put together a musical video of a song he had written called “Ubuntu,” and posted it on YouTube.  It is an inspirational and heart-warming song about some African kids sharing.  Here is his explanation of the song:

    “I first ran across the saying of “Ubuntu,” in a story about an anthropologist visiting an African “Nguni Bantu” tribe. The anthropologist approached a group of children and instructed them to race to a distant tree, where he had placed a large basket of fruit. He told the children that whoever reached the tree first, could have ALL the fruit. The children, All joined hands and ran TOGETHER towards the tree. When he asked why they didn’t run individually, they all answered, “UBUNTU”, and explained; “what good would all the fruit be, if they could not share it with their friends”. There are several meanings of “Ubuntu”, which roughly translates to “human-kindness”, another is “I am, because we are”.
I have used “I am, because we are” in this song, about the remarkable beliefs of sharing, that these people, “share”. I hope you enjoy this enough to share it also.

     I assume people watched the video, and wanted to know more about Brad and Googled his name and since I did a blog about him, they came to my site.  
    You can see Brad’s “Ubuntu” video at: 

    You can buy the song at:

My paintings:

Friday 21 February 2014

Red Breasted Nuthatch

    The little bird in the photo is a red breasted nuthatch.  We have a family of them living around here for as long as I can remember.  They were a daily visitor to our bird feeding stations.  They like living in conifer forests.  The one in this old photo is helping herself to some peanut butter.
    I was distressed year ago, when I realized that they had disappeared--all of them.  I wondered what had happened, and missed the little peeps they made.  I was embarrassed at our Christmas bird count, because I was always happy to report that they were here.  
    I got a happily surprise the other morning, when I saw one again.  I think it must be a newcomer, because it didn’t come to the peanut butter which was always a favorite of the others we had.  I am relieved to know that they are still around, and hope they will start to take advantage of all the sunflower seeds, suet, and peanut butter I put out.

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Thursday 20 February 2014

Sweet Tooth

    From 1973 to 1977, I taught in a one-room school that was located in an isolated logging camp (had to fly in, no roads) on Takla Lake in BC.  Over the last couple of days, I have been reading through some of the diaries that I kept during those years to refresh my memories of those times.  I came across one entry that I though was pretty interesting:

Jan. 27, 1975
    “School went okay, munched on some cake at lunch, then after school, finished off the cake, walked to the cookhouse and had some of Adrian’s cream puffs, then home for a bowl of corn (popcorn?) and iced tea.  Went to school to prepare until 8:00, back to the cookhouse for some of Adrian’s cheesecake.  Then Joan and I made ourselves skate for an half an hour to counteract all of the sugar.  The camp is putting a microwave pay phone near the office--this place is getting pretty civilized!.”

    Obviously, that wasn’t a typical day, or I would now weigh 400 pounds.  The photo shows the camp skating rink and the tan building is our school.  There was no TV reception and only occasional radio reception at night.  The pay phone was a big deal, because previously we just had to rely on the mail for  all of our news and communications with the outside world.

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Wednesday 19 February 2014

Top Knot

    Poor Skye.  Not only does she have to suffer the indignation of gender confusion by her owners (We continually call her “Boy” or refer to her with male pronouns, such as “him” and “his,” because we have always had male dogs in the past), but now SHE has to wear this clownish top-knot to boot.
    We are doing it to keep the hair out of HER eyes, but on the positive side, it does also have the advantage of reminding us of  HER gender, every time we see HER.

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Tuesday 18 February 2014

Moving Hay

    Pete in Dunster, puts out a daily email, which lists the things that various people in the Robson Valley, are selling, trying to buy, along with scheduled community happenings.  The other day I read that the Wildeman family, who had just opened up a new restaurant in McBride, were a bit overwhelmed by all the additional work that was required, and as a result were starting to fall behind in some of their farm duties.  They were just about to run out of hay for the horses and goats, and asked for volunteers to help move some more hay to their place.
    Since I am an experienced hay mover, having had a herd of angora goats, and my activity schedule was pretty empty during the day, I gave them a call and left my name.  I was later contacted by John, a visiting father, and asked if I could show up at 8:00 A.M. over at Trask’s farm.
     “Okay,” I replied, “I’ll be there.”
    For me, being retired has eliminated a lot of stress, but I still experience some, now over insignificant things, that really don’t matter:  What should a wear?  What footwear, what clothing, what gloves? (I have never had to move hay in the winter)  Will there be deep snow?  Who else will be there?  How long will we work?  Can I be ready at 8 in the morning?--stupid stuff.
    Of course, I was there and adequately dressed in the morning, and it started out like most McBride activities--with a problem.  One of the other guys, who was bringing a trailer for hauling, was stuck in the snow, and although he had a heavy machine to pull himself out, he couldn’t drive both the stuck truck and machine at the same time, so I had to drive back into McBride to help.  By the time I got there, he had managed to get himself out of the snow and was ready to go.
    So I drove back to Trask’s farm following the guy and his trailer.  Once there, we were joined by the oldest Roth boy who had the family flat bed truck, and one by one, we backed the trucks and trailers into the huge hay barn and began to load the bales.  We loaded 200 bales of hay.  Trasks put up 10,000 bales of hay every year.  
    We got all trucks all loaded then all headed back to Wildemans with all of the bales.  Then we reversed the procedure and took all of the bales from the vehicles and stacked them into Wildeman’s hay barn.  The whole job took us just two hours, which was a lot quicker than everyone expected.  We were told to go down to the Trading Company restaurant and we would be treated with lunch.
     I guess Paul Wildeman, who is doing all the cooking and spending so much time at the new enterprise, wasn’t even told about the hay moving, until it was over; Tammy organized the whole thing behind his back, so he wouldn’t be concerned about it. 
    The meal we had was much fancier than the fare I usually fix myself for lunch--and very tasty.  Below is a photo of my fellow hay movers, sitting down for our lunch.

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Monday 17 February 2014

Two Paths

    I have mentioned how, because of the deep snow, we are very limited as to where we can walk, and have to stick to established paths.  This photo shows two of our paths, one goes around the pond, and the one on the left is part of the trail that we walk which takes us through the woods and down by the Fraser River.  The snow depth hasn’t changed much--still about 2 feet (60cm) deep.

I paint, see my photo-realistic paintings at:

Sunday 16 February 2014

Surprise In The Pond

    Yesterday, Skye and I did one of our short walks around the pond.  The pond, of course, is covered with ice probably 12 inches (30cm) thick or more, and on top of the ice is another foot or so of snow.  However, at the near end of the pond is a small pool of open water, because that is where the overflow from our gravity-fed water system comes in, preventing it from icing over.
    Usually on my walk, I look into the small area of open water, hoping to see some of the little shiners--small minnow sized fish.  I did this yesterday.  As I stared into the liquid world, looking for the little fish, I could see none, then I noticed movement, and then was amazed when I realized I was seeing a great big fish, slowly circling in the water.  I estimate it was about 16 inches (40 cm) from nose to tail.  I was gobsmacked.
    About 20 years ago, a co-worker from Forestry had been fishing in a creek, down the road, and stopped in and gave me about 5 fish for the pond.  Three of them were white fish, which are bottom feeders, and the other two were trout, all about a foot, (30cm) in length.
   Over the passing years, I have never see any fish jump, or do anything to make me notice them, so I assumed they probably all died.  Then one autumn day 8 years ago, I noticed something floating on the edge of the pond, and pulled out the corpse of a 22 inch (55cm) white fish, that I guess died of old age.  That was a surprise, since I didn’t really think there were any big fish left in my pond.  Again, as the years passed, I figured there were no more large fish in the pond--until yesterday.
    Since this fish was hanging around where the water comes in, I think it was probably getting a blast of that oxygen rich water, that we take off of a waterfall for our drinking water.  Ice covered ponds can become devoid of oxygen due to the ice cover that limits surface air exchange, and the decomposition of plant material.

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Saturday 15 February 2014

Blowin' In The Wind

    Some years ago, someone in BC’s Ministry of Transportation decided that highway signs no longer needed to be secured onto a post, and they came up with signs that were just dangling on a chain or otherwise flexibly attached.  As a result, when the wind really starts to roar, the signs really start to dance.  
    Whenever I begin the long dangerous drive to Prince George, and see these signs, slice, swoop, and swing at the side of the road, I am neither reassured, nor made to feel any security, about the highway experience before me.  I guess I should be more positive and try to look on the bright side--at least these signs inform me that the wind is blowing.

At my website, you can see my paintings:

Friday 14 February 2014

Belly Rub

    Here is a photo of Skye getting exactly what she likes best--a stomach rub.  She loves nothing more than to sprawl out on her back while a nice warm hand moves back and forth across her naked abdomen.  She will continue to lie in this position as long as the hand continues to deliver.

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Thursday 13 February 2014

My Letter Sweater

    My recent blog recounting the encounter I had with the high school vice principal, the day after the Beatles appeared on TV, made me think of high school and a blog I wrote 3 years ago about my letter sweater, and since not much is happening around here for me to write about, and way back then, I had very few readers, I thought I would drag it out again.

    For those of you who didn’t grow up in the US, or in those long ago times, I will start by explaining what a letter sweater was.  It was a sweater given as a reward to athletes for being on a varsity sport team.  It was a heavy-duty, V-necked, quality wool-knitted sweater in the school colors, (in my case, Kelly Green) and right smack in the center of the chest, was a big white letter--the initial of the school, (in my case, “N” for North High School).
    The big letter had little symbols on the corners to signify what sport the wearer participated in, i.e. a football, basketball, etc.  In my case, it was a little shoe with wings, because I had earned my “Letter” running hurdles on the track team.
    Anyway, in those days, wearing a letter sweater was “big status” at the high school.  The wearer could walk around wearing it and everyone would see that you were “Somebody”.  Unfortunately for me, since the track season was at the tail end of the school year when the temperatures were already getting hot, and I got my sweater at the end of the track season, I never got the opportunity to parade my big status around, since it was  practically summer and way too warm for wearing sweaters, so it just remained in its box.

    In the early 1980's, I was living amidst the mountains near the Village of McBride, British Columbia and working for the BC Forest Service, and one day while rooting around looking for something, I came upon a box, that had been stored away, and there inside, was my North High School letter sweater, still in virgin condition (evidently, I had dragged it all the way from Indiana, up to Canada).  This once honored item had, by this time, lost its status and had become something that just took up space.
    With its status gone, I figured I might as well just use it for warmth, so I began wearing it.  An urban hippy couple from Toronto, who were related to a friend of mine, had recently moved to a very tiny, isolated hamlet near McBride.  (McBride is pretty isolated itself).  They were a really strange pair, and instead of names, they called each other "Y" and "R".  When I was first introduced to them, I happened to be wearing my letter sweater and so they instantly took a liking to me, and they called me "N".
    Periodically at Forestry, I helped out a “Beetle Crew”, whose winter job it was to snowshoe through the forests, looking for signs of spruce bark beetle, a small insect that killed trees.  One morning, as part of the crew, we were flown by helicopter out to a remote wilderness area in the upper reaches of the Goat River Drainage and dropped off. 
    We were to spend the day, snowshoeing through the bush, across the middle slopes above North Star Creek,  looking for signs of the beetle in the bark of spruce trees.  On this particular day, I happened to be wearing my letter sweater, and when the sun finally cleared the mountain range on the opposite side of the drainage, the day began to heat up.  More heat was generated from the slogging I was doing with the snowshoes.   Finally, I got so warm, I stopped, took off the sweater, tied it around my waist, then proceeded to trudge on.
    At the end of the day, when we had all arrived at the pickup spot and were waiting for the helicopter to ferry us home, standing around in the shade of the mountain, exhaustion, and the cooling of the daytime temperature made me feel chilled.  I reached down for the sweater, only to discover that it was no longer tied around my waist--it had fallen off somewhere during the afternoon, somewhere on the slopes above of North Star Creek, which is still a remote and isolated area untouched by roads.
    I often think of it, up there somewhere, and I wonder if the forest critters have taken it apart and used the strings of yarn to insulate their nests?  I wonder if some future explorer of the region will happen across the tattered big white "N" in the middle of the forest and scratch their heads?  It seemed appropriate to me, that if I had to lose my North High School letter sweater, what better place, than up at North Star Creek.

    Please note that since I no longer have the sweater, I couldn’t take a photo of it for this blog, so I substituted my smaller “freshman”  letter, on top of a green T-shirt, to give you an idea of what my varsity letter sweater used to look like.

    Since the topic today was my old letter sweater, here is a cartoon on the subject, that I did many years ago.

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Wednesday 12 February 2014

Mid Winter

    I have to admit that I am eagerly looking for some sign of Spring.  Our cold spell has ended and we are back to mild temperatures hovering around the freezing point.  As you can see by the photo that I took of the door to the barn, a lot of snow has to melt before we get down to seeing the ground.  
    Now, when I need to get into the barn, I have to climb up from the driveway, walk across the snow bank, then step down to the little porch in front of the barn door.  Fortunately, I can still open that door.  I am tired of having to put on all the coats, boots, and gloves just to go outside to get some firewood, and having to then take it all back off when I get back into the house.  I am ready for Spring.
    The hole you see in the roof happened overnight by the furious winds that blew snow sideways.  I have already gone up and jerry-rigged a temporary patch over the hole which hopefully will keep the snow out until which time I can permanently fix it.

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Tuesday 11 February 2014

Drinking Songs

    I look forward to Tuesdays all week long.  It’s on Tuesday nights when we have our jam session.  I started doing music again regularly a year ago, after about a 40 year absence, and love it.  Usually there are only about 5 or six of us that show up with our instruments, but we always have a good time. 
    There are usually some guitars, a banjo, a dobro, a washtub bass, an electric bass,  a box drum, last week there was a keyboard, and I usually add a mandolin to the mix.  We go around the circle and take turns suggesting a song to play.
    I usually try to come up with a new song or two every week.  Tonight I am going to introduce “Copper Kettle,” a song I remember Joan Baez doing way back during the folk revival and always liked it.  Back in high school I was in a folk singing group that used to play it.
    As I worked myself back through the song, which is about making whiskey on a still, it struck me just how many of the songs we play have lyrics about drinking and alcohol.  I find this very curious, since I introduced a lot of them and I don’t drink at all, and never really have.
    Besides “Copper Kettle,” I have introduced Fred Eaglesmith’s “Alcohol and Pills”, the folk standard “Mountain Dew”, and James Taylor’s “Bartender’s Blues.”   We also do the Byrd’s “You’re Still On My Mind” with the lyrics “an empty bottle, a broken heart, and you’re still on my mind”, and Bob, our dobro player, sometimes does “Cigarettes, Whiskey, and Wild, Wild, Women”.
    Anyone looking at our song list would certainly get a distorted view of the life I lead.

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Monday 10 February 2014

"You're" Going to End up in Prison"

    If you haven’t read yesterday’s blog, go back and read that first.  

    The next day, Monday Feb. 10, 1964, started out like most other school days.  I got up, got dressed, ate breakfast, then my sister and I went up and waited for the school bus.  The ride into North High School was much the same as it usually was, although there was a lot of talk about the Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.  
    When I arrived at school however, there was a noticeable change.  A lot of kids, many I didn’t know, were coming up to me and asking about the Beatles.  My friends were all very friendly, eager to talk, and to be seen with me.  Overnight, my status in school had changed, but daily school routine went on as usual.
    I was sitting in my morning chemistry class, when a student came into the room and handed a note to the teacher.  He glanced down at the message, looked at me, and told me I was wanted in Mr. Buck’s office.  Naturally, my first inclination was that there had been some terrible accident to some member of my family.
    I walked down the long empty hallway to the Principal’s office.  Mr. Buck wasn’t the principal, but the vice principal--the heavy, who usually dealt with behavioral problems.  When I got to his office, the secretary told me to take a seat.  So putting my books beside me on the bench, I sat and waited.  I now realized that this is just a tactic to “soften the subject up.”
    When I was finally allowed into the office, Mr. Buck glared at me and asked me what I was trying to do.  I had never been in his presence before, although I knew about his reputation as a “hard ass”.
    “Do about what?”, I asked.
    “What are you trying to pull with that long hair?” he shot back.
    “What do you mean?  My hair isn’t doing anything,” I was starting to figure out what this was all about and I was starting to feel indignation.
    “You need to get your hair cut,”  
    I had never really been a rebel or a trouble maker, but I did believe that people had certain rights and as long as they weren’t causing any harm to anyone, I didn’t believe that he had any say in the matter.
    “Look, my hair isn’t noticeably longer than it was last week and no one had any objection to it then, I have been called down here just because the Beatles were on TV last night.”  I wasn’t planning on giving in to this bullying mini-tyrant.
    The arguments went back and forth, but I didn’t cower, and after about an hour and a half he told me to get a haircut before I came to school tomorrow, and to get back to my classes.  During the rest of the school day, most everyone had heard about my call to Mr Buck’s office, and my status grew to even greater heights.
    Of course, in those days, parents always sided with the authorities, and so I was confronted by an angry father, who told me he was going to take me down to the barber shop, which he did.  While I was there, I made a compromise and got my hair trimmed in the back--my bangs weren’t touched.
    When I went to school the next day, Mr. Buck was livid, and I was back in his office.
    “I did get my hair cut,” I explained, “I got the back trimmed.”
    Mr. Buck was pissed, I’m sure he knew he was on shaky ground, and really all he could do was to assault  me with fear and threats.  “If you remain on this path you have chosen, I warn you, you are going to end up in prison.”   That being said, I was sent back to my classes.

    Those two days in Mr. Buck’s office had a profound effect on my life.  It was the first time I had really experienced bigotry, and bullying by an authority.  I was proud of myself--I had principles, and I managed to stand up for them despite Mr. Buck’s pressure and threats.  It led me to start questioning authority, and blind obedience to it.  It set the stage for my opposition to the Vietnam War and my eventual move to Canada.
    I mentioned yesterday how conservative Southern Indiana was, and how all “men” were expected  to have short, military-style hair.  The photos above show what I looked like in 1964.  You can see why Mr. Buck was so furious at me and what a rebel I was.
    Although the incident did manage to sort of break the ice for those who followed behind me at North High School, it did not totally change things.  I was a popular person, a good student, and someone who was polite and kind--they had trouble coming down on me.  A couple of years later however, they prevented a student, who was a member of a local rock band, from getting his diploma at the commencement ceremony, because he had long hair.
    So far, I am happy to report I have not yet been sent to prison, although way back in 197I, I told my draft board I would go there, rather than be in the military.

You can see my paintings at:

Sunday 9 February 2014

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today

    One November Sunday morning back in 1963, a few days before John Kennedy was murdered, I was sitting in the back pew of church, with my friend Jary.  We had the job of being ushers, and so had a good excuse for sitting in the very back.  Jary was a grade ahead of me.  He was the “intellectual” of my group of friends.  His range of knowledge was vasty superior to any of the rest of us.  As we sat there, I was playing with a little pencil, and doodling on the margins of the church bulletin, when he bent over close to my ear, and asked me in a low voice, “Are you trying to look like a Beatle?”
    At the time, November, 1963, I didn’t understand the question.  It didn’t make any sense at all to me.  How could I look like a beetle?
    When I asked what he was talking about, he explained that there was this singing group from England with long hair combed down on their foreheads, who called themselves “The Beatles”.  In an example of parallel evolution, I too had begun to let my hair grow, I liked longer hair, and it was creeping down onto my forehead.  
        You had to live in those times and in an ultra conservative place like rural Indiana to realize what a departure from the norm, long hair on a male was.  It was crew cut country.
    As I was soon to discover, the length of my hair was no where close to that of this British singing group, but it was a whole lot closer, than anyone else in the community.  I liked the fact that my hair was getting longer, and although different from others, it was not a problem.

    This whole “Beatle” thing was news to me, and of course, the fact that Jary thought I looked like members of this rock and roll singing group, peaked my interest and I told him I had never heard of them and asked for more information.  He told me there was a little article in Newsweek magazine about them and offered to cut out the picture so I could see it.
    Since I had never cracked a cover of Newsweek magazine, I had totally missed the event, but true to his word, the next morning, while riding on the school bus, Jary reached into his back pocket, pulled out his wallet, from which he took a small piece of paper.  He handed it to me and I unfolded it and viewed for the first time the faces of the four mop-topped lads from England.  I liked what I saw.  It is the picture you see above.
    That photo of the Beatles stimulated my curiosity and I was keen to learn more, so during my lunch hour at school, I went to the school library, where they kept the stacks of Newsweek magazines, and leafed through the most recent copies, until I found the November 18, 1963 article entitled “Beatlemania”.
    I read about the “sheep-dog bangs, collarless jackets, and drainpipe trousers,” and how Beatle music was “high-pitched, loud beyond reason, stupefyingly repetitive.”--not exactly a glowing review, but it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm to learn more.
    Despite the Newsweek article, the Beatles remained an unknown quantity in the US, and most certainly, in Indiana.  I was, of course, still extremely interested in them, and my hair continued to grow longer.  Then in January of 1964, I learned that a clip of the Beatles was going to be shown on The Jack Paar Show, one of the early "late night" television shows.  Armed with this little known information, I spread the word to my high school friends,  and I made sure I was in front of the television, late at night when the Beatle clip was shown.      
       It was a dark, brief, far away clip showing the Beatles singing in “The Cavern”, while the crowd screamed.  I liked the Beatle look, and wow, I really liked the Beatle song, and so had those of my friends who had bothered to tune in to see them.  But for most of North America, The Beatles were still an unknown.
    Then came Sunday, February 9, 1964--my world and life changed forever.  I knew the event was going to happen, but little did I realize just how big an impact it was going to have on me.  That evening, I joined 74 million other people, who sat in front of their television sets and watched The Beatles perform 5 of their songs on the Ed Sullivan Show in front of the screaming audience. 
    For a few days, the media had been doing stories about the Beatles coming to America to be on the Sullivan Show.  The stories were pretty much all the same.  They all took a humorous theme: The four funny, girlish-looking, but good natured lads, who were really hot performers in England, had arrived in America.  Jokes and sarcastic comments were made about their hair, it was all a humorous story to lighten up the news.     But after 40% of the US public tuned in to watch them, America was suddenly divided.  Many of the viewers mostly young, really liked the Beatles, while most of the older observers recoiled in horror.
    While Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964 was the day the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, it was the following day--Monday, Feb. 10th, that changed the direction of my life.  I will write about that tomorrow.

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Saturday 8 February 2014

Not A Fan

    For a long time now, I have recognized that I am missing a key element in the male makeup.  I do not have the male sports gene--I just don’t give a wit about who is playing who, or who has won.  My idea of boredom would be sitting in front of a big TV screen with the guys and watching a sports event.
    It bugs me how it is always assumed that everyone is interested in sports.  It particularly irritates me during “big” sporting events, when media becomes saturated with the hype, and all of the focus diverts to the sports--such as the Winter Olympics.
    I like listening to news reports, so I will know what is happening in the world.  This morning, still half asleep, I woke up and noticed that it was a few minutes before the 6:00 news broadcast, so I turned on the clock radio to hear what things had happened overnight.  What I got instead of news, was a report on the Olympics--all about a Canadian snowboarder who was hyped to win a gold, but got a bronze instead.  Then once that “big” news was over, several more reports from the Olympics were given.  I turned off the radio.
    I realize that millions of people will be watching the “inspirational” stories, drama,  and hype about “the Games”, but not me.  To me, the Olympics have become just a lot of hype, disguising the fact that it is really, just about money.
    Big corporations pay huge amounts of money to advertise, participating countries add to pot, so they can wave their nationalistic flags, the host country always diverts billions that could have been used to help their citizens, into huge monuments for the vanity of their leaders, the athletes, who are the unpaid stars of the show, strive to make a name for themselves, so that they can market it later, and the Olympic Committee get to wine and dine and live the life of princes.  
    I always wonder where all that money goes.  The host country provide the money to construct the  sites, the athletes don’t get any pay, the sponsors and TV networks pay millions of dollars to the Olympic Committee.  What is done with all of that money?  It seems like that everyone else has already paid for everything necessary to make the games happen.
   Oh well, sorry to rant.  On a positive note, “The Games” always do provide me with a lot of ideas for cartoons. 

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Friday 7 February 2014

Give Me a Break

    The frigid air seems happy where it is, just sitting on top of us.  Day after day, the same--Bright sunny cloudless skies, and clear dark nights with Orion’s belt twinkling in the east, but what a price we pay for those clear skies.  This morning it was -32 C (-25F) outside and now the sun is beaming through the windows and it is still -29C.
    I have always been happy that in the Robson Valley when it does get cold, it is very still--no wind.  Things would be pretty horrendous if the wind was blowing with these temperatures.  And as we always like to say, “It is a dry cold,” and that does make a big difference in how cold it feels.  I always remember the first winter we went down to Indiana for a visit--the damp cold there went right through us.
    Every morning I anxiously turn on the computer to see if there is any break in the forecast, and it looks as though there is.  It will be slowly warming and by next Tuesday it promises to be a balmy -2C
(28F).  Its nice to live with a little hope.
    The photo above shows the scene through our double glazed bathroom window earlier this morning.

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Thursday 6 February 2014

At His Post

    More often than not, when we are walking our trail and go down the slope, through the dip and back up, and we get to the big spruce, we see this squirrel sitting on a branch watching us.  Some times it is nibbling on a spruce cone, but usually it is just sitting there observing our progress. 
    Since I now know it is around, I always start looking for it as we approach the tree.  A couple of times, Skye has chased it when the squirrel moved, but usually the squirrel stays still and Skye is not even aware that it is there.

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Wednesday 5 February 2014


    For a week now, we have been suffering under a very stable block of frigid arctic air.  We have been waking up to morning temperatures that have been between -26 to -29 C (-15 to -20 F) which have kept us fairly housebound.  We do try to be stoic and force ourselves to walk the trail during the heat of the afternoon (-15C, 7F) and while I am continually scanning the surroundings for something to take photos of, I have found interesting subjects to be very sparse.
    I did notice these frost crystals which surrounded the walls of the deep footprints that the deer and moose had punched into the deep snow.   Once I stopped and took a closer look at them, I discovered that they are pretty amazing in their fragile beauty.    

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Tuesday 4 February 2014

Mouse Tracks

    During the winter, mice, shrews, and other small rodents spend their time living under the snow, protected from the cold and predators.  Over the last few days, I have been noticing a lot of their tracks on top of the snow-- Maybe they got bored and decided to do some exploring. 
    As you might expect, the tracks start with a little hole in the snow, coming up from the depths, and end with another one.  Some of these rodents seem to move by little leaps as they move across the surface, while other just seem to bulldoze themselves through the top layer of snow.

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