Thursday 31 July 2014

Ozalenka Hike, Part 3-The Alpine

    Of course the whole reason for making the 7 km (4.3 mile) hike on the trail up the narrow valley of Ozalenka Creek is to get up into the alpine meadows.  The trail eventually opens up into a long wide valley surrounded by peaks and open flowery meadows.  One of the charms of being in the alpine is the vistas available to the eye, softened by the deep green grasses dotted with unique flowers that grow only in the harsh conditions of high elevation.  Below are a few photos of the surrounding mountains.

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Wednesday 30 July 2014

Ozalenka Hike, Part 2-Bridges

    It has been a long time since I had been up to the Ozalenka Valley alpine, the last time was probably in the middle 1990’s, so I was really impressed to see how much better all the bridges up the trail were.   During one of the early trips, when the Ozalenka Alpine Club had just built the cabin, There was no bridge crossing Ozalenka Creek at the beginning of the trail (photo above), and I remember having to wade through the creek.  On our way up during the morning, it wasn’t too big of a deal, just very cold feet, but toward evening on our way back, the heat of the day had melted a lot of snow and the creek had risen quite a bit and it was a lot scarier getting across the fast flowing water pushing against your legs.
    The trail up to the Ozalenka Valley follows Ozalenka Creek and crosses the creek 4 times.  Thanks to dedicated volunteers, all of the old one and two-log bridges up the trail have been replaced with good sturdy wider decked ones.  The photo below gives you an example of what some of those early bridges looked like.

     Even though the new bridges are more substantial and wider than the old ones, a hiker still gets that feeling of adventure as he carefully walks above the raging white water on a bridge without handrails.  It is part of the fun of the hike.

      Below is a photo showing what the roaring, turbulent water below looks like as you cross one of the bridges up to the Ozalenka Valley.

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Tuesday 29 July 2014

Ozalenka Hike

    I moved to Robson Valley because I loved to be in the mountains, however although they are around me every day, I rarely go up in them.  Fortunately this summer, I have already been up in the alpine twice.  I  hiked around in the McBride Peak alpine when we had guests from Holland, and Sunday, I joined the Ozalenka Alpine Club for their hike up to the Ozalenka Valley.  (Next Sunday they are doing Mt. Lucille)
    The Ozalenka Valley is up the west fork of the Dore River, that is just west of McBride (Google it).  To get to the trail head requires a tough truck, because you have to travel up a not maintained old logging road, squeezing by a washout on the edge of a steep slope.  Fortunately, as you can see in the photo above, we were able to have an adventurous ride in the open air in the back of this pickup truck.
    When we got to the Ozalenka Trailhead, fresh from the bracing and bumpy early morning ride, (the photo shows us enjoying the comfort of the seats after our hike) there were already some trucks at the parking area.  The picture below shows Glen Stanley securing the fencing around the parked trucks.  The fencing keeps out the porcupines, who can seriously dismantle a vehicle parked out in the bush for a couple of days. 
    Porcupines crave salt and seek it out in unusual places, they eat around on tires, vehicle wiring, and plywood.  There has been many a surprised adventurer who has returned to his vehicle after spending time in the bush, to discover that his truck has been rendered un-useable by porcupines and had to end up walking out to civilization.
    Once we got our daypacks on, we started up the trail (up is the key word, as the trail climbs and climbs, following the turbulent and tumbling Ozalenka Creek).  As we made our way up the trail we met a couple coming down.  I was surprised to see a pair of skis sticking up from one of the packs they carried.  I know there is still snow in places up there in the peaks, but I didn’t think there would be enough to warrant carrying skis.  Then the story slowly unwound.
    The couple had found the skis (bottom photo).  Glen Stanley, who books the cabin up in the Ozalenka Valley, put the story together for us.  Last winter, 5 people from Alberta were up there skiing, and triggered an avalanche.  One skier was totally buried, and another was partially buried.  Fortunately, they were wearing beacons, and the buried skier was dug out and survived, but they couldn’t find his skis.  Now, I guess his skis have finally been found.  
    Tomorrow, more about our Ozalenka hike.  

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Monday 28 July 2014

How Do You Like the Garden?

    The neighborhood deer, who Joan has been calling “Petunia,” because of her love of Joan’s flowers, leaped across the fence surrounding our garden, and spent a lot of time sampling what was growing there.  The deer ate through our cabbages (above), stripped our kale and lettuce, and for dessert ate all of the blossoms from Joan’s roses.  The deer had quite a feast.  I’m sure it was the same deer that got into our greenhouse and ate our green peppers a couple of weeks ago.
    When I told a neighbor of the devastation the deer caused in the garden, he replied that he thought other neighbors were feeding the deer, to which I said, “Obviously, they were not feeding her enough.”
    I do have a 6 foot (1.8m) fence around the garden, but I guess I will have to make it even higher.  On Saturday, I went out to the garden to survey the fence so that I could see how I could extend it, and while I was there I turned around, and to my surprise, there stood Petunia, right behind me (photo below).  When I chased her, she easily cleared the 6 foot fence.
    I was able to put up some posts in, for a higher fence, on Saturday, but I did not have time to put up the wire fencing, because I went hiking yesterday (photos tomorrow).  Just now, as I was writing this blog, I wasn’t sure how high the fence around my garden was, so I though I would go out and measure it.  On my way out, I glanced through a window, and to my dismay, there was Petunia, once again in the garden, and helping herself to more of Joan’s roses (bottom photo shows Petunia inside my fenced garden with the roses)  Again she easily cleared the 6 ft fence.
    After today, we will see how easily she clears an 8 foot (2.4m) fence around the garden.

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Saturday 26 July 2014

Banding Hummingbirds

    Every Friday evening at the McBride Library, they have been having talks about natural history.  Last night the topic was hummingbirds, and I learned a lot of fascinating things about the little critters and got to watch hummingbirds being banded.  It was all pretty amazing.
    I always thought that I had Calliope hummingbirds around my house, but now I am not so sure, they may be Rufous, it seems they look more alike than I saw in the bird book.  There was some disagreement among the experts last night when I showed them some photos.  At any rate, no matter what the species, they are all remarkable.  I didn’t realize that when they get cold, they can go into a state of torpor, where their metabolism slows 95%.  We saw photos of them hanging upside down while in this state.  
    They chase bigger birds around and they can, in turn, be chased around by butterflies and bees.  They travel up from southwestern US and Mexico along the coast in the spring, and return using a different route, along the eastern side of the Rockies.  They disappear from the Robson Valley to migrate at the end of July, while there are still flowers to feast on on their migration south.  They have been seen as high at 11,000 ft, (3,350 m.) elevation in the mountains.  They usually weigh about 3 grams.
    Curtis Culp of Dunster has been banding hummers for about 9 years.  He has banded 2000 birds, and only 3 of those have been re-caught and recorded in other places, one down along the Gulf of Mexico in Alabama.   Jill Howard has been banding them now for a year and Heather Zahn is just about to get her permit.
    The photos below shows the banding operation.  Above Heather is carefully putting the band on a Rufus Hummingbird.  Below Curtis is reaching into the net to grab another captured hummer.  When they are laid on their backs they sort of go to sleep and they are wrapped around the body, so they don’t hurt their wings.  They are banded, inspected, measured, weighed, recorded, and then freed. 

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Friday 25 July 2014

House Mouse to Field Mouse

     On July 14th I blogged about the invasion of mice into our house and how I was live trapping them. I also explained that because they continued to make so much noise while they were in the traps, I had to get up several times in the middle of the night and take the traps out to the barn and release the the mice into their new home.  Shortly after my blog, I got an email from Dennis, a neighbor and biologist, who told me that if I didn’t take the mice further away, they would return to the house.  He takes them at least 700 m. away.
    He explained how after a couple of times of getting into the live trap and eating the food there, then being taken safely out to the barn and making it back to the house, they would begin to think, “there is food in the trap, and after I eat it, I will be taken out and released, then I can come back to the house and trap and have the same experience over and over.”
    I knew this to be true, because many years ago I went through a similar situation live trapping mice, and after I caught on to their recidivism, I started to take them for a drive in the middle of the night to release them down the road.  Sometimes I had to do this several times a night.  
    With this latest mice invasion I confess, I was just too tired to do the drive in the middle of the night and let my fatigue color my actions, but now, night after night, we continue to catch more mice in the live trap, so I have begun to realize that they are probably repeaters and I have begun to do the drive again.

    Long ago I used to just put the live trap outside when I heard that I had caught a mouse, but then one morning, when I went out to the trap to drive the mouse, and I found it dead.  I think it died of hypothermia  standing on the cold metal trap floor all night, and I felt terrible.  I began putting in a foam “carpet” into the floor of the traps so they could keep their little feet warm.  Maybe I will start doing that again.
    Don’t think I am too much of a softy because I am live trapping the mice.  Mice are really important food for a lot of critters around here and I find it wasteful just to kill them, when they could be food for something.  I do use kill traps also, but these mice I have in the house are usually just too smart to eat from kill traps.  I am able to get them into the live traps, so hopefully now that I have begun to “transport” them again, we will begin to see a decline in the mouse population in our house, besides its summer time and they should be out enjoying it.
    Below is one of the two mice that were caught last night and then transported.

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Thursday 24 July 2014

The Poor Aspen

    For several years now the aspen trees have been suffering from the leaf miner, a tiny caterpillar that gets in between the top and bottom layers of an aspen leaf and creates tunnels as it eats its way back and forth inside the leaf.  The trails it makes inside the leaf end up in an interesting design and I made them the subject of a painting (“Aspen”).  It does however weaken the trees, especially if it attacks year after year.
    Because it has been happening so regularly, I have been getting used to the silvery color that the aspen leaves now take on, as the leaf miner strips them of their green chlorophyl, so I was surprised yesterday when I noticed how green some new leaves were on an aspen tree.  

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Wednesday 23 July 2014

Carrot Seeds

    Things always end up being more complicated than I think they will be.  I have been attending outings of the newly formed seed savers group here in the Robson Valley.  I missed the first meeting and that is where members chose which seeds they were going save.  In the meantime, I noticed that I had missed some carrots last fall when I dug them, and that this year I have a few of those carrots up and growing again.
    Carrots are bi-annual plants.  They don’t make seeds the first year, but if left in the ground, the second year they produce flowers, which in turn, make seeds.  
    At the first seed savers meeting I attended, they went around the group so that each person could explain what seeds they were saving, and how things were proceeding.  When it came to me my turn, since I hadn’t chose a vegetable to save, I just said I had some volunteer carrots coming up and that I would save them.  Now I am not so sure.
    As you can see in the photo, my volunteer carrots are blooming, so there should be seeds in my future, but will they be any good?
    I just did a Google search on saving carrot seeds and read some discouraging things.  It seems that most carrot seeds available in stores are hybrids, and if you save the seeds of a hybrid, you never know what you are going to get.  You won’t get the same kind of carrot you had before.  You may get sterile seeds, you may get bad tasting carrots, or really small ugly carrots.  Anyway, the likelihood is that what you get will not be a good carrot.
    So now I am not sure what I should do.  Probably the most reasonable thing will be is to just enjoy the flower and not waste my time collecting the seeds.  

    I save and have been successful in replanting peas, beans, and some tomato seeds, all of which were not hybrids.  If you want to save and replant seeds you need to pick a heritage variety of plant.

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Tuesday 22 July 2014

Calliope Hummingbirds

I was out picking peas in the garden yesterday, I was out picking peas in the garden yesterday, and I noticed that the hummingbirds were pretty actively collecting nectar from the nearby maltese cross and delphinium flowers.  Luckily, I had just taken a photo of a carrot flower and so had my camcorder on me so I stopped my pea picking and took some video of the Calliope hummingbirds that live and breed around here.
    Most people are surprised to discover that there are hummingbirds in Canada.  My wife, who grew up in Germany, always thought that hummingbirds just lived in South America.  We had hummers in Indiana, and I also always associated them with warmer climes, so it was a surprise when we first saw them buzzing around in the north country.
    Calliopes are the smallest birds that live in North America.  They are 3.35 inches (8 cm) in length.  They spend their winters in the southern part of the US and fly up here every summer to nest and breed.  The most common hummingbird in the Robson Valley is the Rufous, which is rust colored.  The Calliopes are metallic green on the back with cinnamon on the sides.  They have an iridescent ruby patch that shines either red or black on their throat, depending on how the light hits them.

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Monday 21 July 2014

Animals on Top of Things

    Lately I have seen animals sitting on top of things, and as always, I had my camera with me.  Above, you see Lucifer sitting on top of our house waiting for us to return from a walk.  She climbs up a post that supports our balcony and then wanders around on the roof until we rescue her.  
    Yesterday afternoon, I went out to Roth’s farm for a seed savers group meeting.  After the meeting the Roth’s led us on a tour of the farm.  We got to see their big garden, and among the many things growing there were some grapes.  Someone cleverly commented that the vines were the “Grapes of Roth.”  
    As we saw the way they are managing their farm animals, I spotted one of their dogs watching the group from atop a round bale of hay.

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Sunday 20 July 2014

Inland Rain Forests

    Yesterday, I had hoped to climb up Mt. Lucille with our Casper and Caroline, but the weather conspired against us.  It was raining and there were lots of low clouds, so instead I took them out to two inland rain forests in the Robson Valley.  Since it was raining it seemed appropriate.
    First we went out to the Ancient Forest.  It is a dark cedar forest with giant trees some of which are between 1000-2000 years old.  These old cedar forests always make me feel as if I have stepped back into a time before human-kind arrived.
    The Ancient Forest which is about an hour’s drive west of McBride, was preserved from logging because of the work of lots of dedicated people.  They are now constructing a walkway through parts of the forests to allow wheel chair access and to prevent damage to the roots of the giant western red cedar trees
    After touring the Ancient Forest we drove back toward McBride and hiked through the West Twin Old Growth area.  It too is a cedar forest, but because it is a bit dryer, instead of the waist high devil’s club and fern undergrowth, it is mostly just moss covered ground.  Below are some photos from the Ancient Forest, and at the very bottom is a shot of the moss covered West Twin Old Growth Area.

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Saturday 19 July 2014

McBride Peak,BC

    Even though it was largely because of the mountains that we moved to McBride, it seems like I never get up there unless we have guests.  Fortunately, Casper and Caroline, our Dutch visitors, were eager to get out into the mountains, so I was happy to have the excuse to take them.
    When we woke up yesterday, things didn’t look to optimistic.   Smoke from the forest fires filled the Robson Valley and obscured the mountain ranges on both sides.  It was spitting a bit of rain, but since the weather forecast showed that the weather would be getting worse over the next couple of days, we thought we had better try to make the mountaintop even though conditions weren’t prime.
    It was very smoky and as we climbed, huffing and puffing at the effort, I couldn’t but think how bad all that deep breathing of smoke was for the lungs, but onward and upward we went.  The wind was fierce and cold, and the occasional showers didn’t help matters, but we could see enough of the mountains around us and all the alpine flowers that it was a great day.
    Below is a photo of Caroline and Casper, moss campion flowers, some far away hikers on the edge of a peak, and a smoky view of the Robson Valley bottom.

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Friday 18 July 2014

Cub on Tree

    Yesterday afternoon, Casper and Caroline, our visitors from Holland, arrived.  After they unpacked their luggage, and had some free time, Skye and I took them on a walk on our trail.  When we got to an area with a lot of waist-high brush we heard a noise and this tiny bear cub scampered up a tree.  There was a 2nd cub in a neighboring tree, which I didn’t get a photo of.  
    Seeing a small bear cub out in the woods is a scary thing when you realize that the mother is somewhere close at hand.  Mothers who think there might be some danger to their cubs can attack, so we didn’t spend much time observing the cubs, we continued on our way so the family could enjoy the privacy they needed.

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Thursday 17 July 2014

White Tornado

    Joan and I are busy doing the white tornado thing to our house, in anticipation of guests.   They aren’t relatives, like in the cartoon, but a youngish couple from Holland, friends of my niece, who we have never met.  They are vacationing in Western Canada, and are coming through the Robson Valley.  They have been camping and I think they need a bit of “house” time for restoration, before continuing.
    Living where we do, so far away in the middle of nowhere, (or is it the ends of the earth?) anyway, we don’t get too many visitors, so when someone comes, we have to forget our everyday life style and put the extra polish on the house and yard.  Poor Skye and Lucifer are puzzled at all this sudden activity and wondering what is going on. 

    All this extra cleaning does have its rewards, I bet I have found $4 worth of change laying around, in crevasses, under things, and on the floor.

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Wednesday 16 July 2014

More Smoke

    Normally, from the vantage point above, you can see mountains sticking up above the trees, but for days now, the Robson Valley has been filling up with smoke from big forest fires that are burning across BC.  I think the bulk of this smoke is coming from a fire 80 miles (128km) away.  Not only is all the smoke giving us an orange sun, it can also be smelled whenever we walk out the door.
    Thankfully, the temperatures are starting to cool a bit.  Today it is only supposed to get up to 30C (86F) instead of the 33/34C (93F) that we have been experiencing.  And it look like they are finally forecasting some showers in a few days.  The hot temperatures and dry conditions have hit gardens really hard.  Fortunately, I have plenty of water and have been able to turn on the sprayer to keep my garden moist, but those who depend on wells for their water have had to do a lot of labor-intensive hand watering to keep their gardens growing.

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Tuesday 15 July 2014

A Disturbing Nature

    It seems that lately nature is suddenly causing us a disturbance in our daily routine.  I wrote yesterday about how the invasion of mice has been interrupting my sleep.  It continued again last night with another trip to the barn at 12:35.  Yesterday evening when I when into the greenhouse to check the plants, I discovered that a deer must have invited itself into the greenhouse then helped itself to some green peppers and munched on the leaves of the plants.  That is the first time I have had a deer come into our green house.
    I did have the door open because it has been so unusually hot.  Our daily outside temperatures have been around 32-34C (in the 90’s F).  Now I guess I will have to start putting up some kind of barricade across the open door to keep the deer out.
    Over the past few weeks there has been a squirrel leaping from the birch tree onto our metal roof, scampering across the roof, then with another mighty leap, it gets to a willow branch then runs down the limb and down the trunk.  This morning I was awaken by a din of chatter and caws from ravens just outside the house.  They began around 5:30 and continued the disturbingly loud conversation until around 6:30 when I finally got out of bed to see what was going on.  
    Eight ravens flew up from my driveway, leaving the mangled corpse of the squirrel laying on the drive.  Sometimes I think we are living just a bit to close to nature.

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Monday 14 July 2014

Those Damn Mice

    I had a terrible night last night because of the mice.  We have been having a mouse problem in our house since winter.  The mice that have taken up occupancy seem to be smarter than the usual variety and as a result they are still here.  
    I don’t really like to kill mice if I don’t have too and usually I use live traps to get them, but these have been so persistent that I have gotten out the heavy artillery--kill traps.  Whenever I hear the snap of a trap I think, “Well, that’s one less mouse I have to deal with,”  but usually I find the trap empty and imagine the mice hiding behind something and holding their hands over their mouths as they giggle and watch my surprise and frustration.
    Last night it was about 11:00 (23.00) when I fell to sleep.  I was awaken at 12:30 by the sound of scratching on metal.  It was the sound of a mouse in the live trap, scratching away in an attempt to get out.  I shook my head a couple of time to try to shake my way out of the deep sleep that was still in my brain, I carefully got out of bed, not wanting to disturb Lucifer, our cat, who really should have been doing something about the mice problem, instead of sleeping.
    I dragged myself to the pantry, where the sound was coming from.  I turned on the pantry light, reached down grabbed the live trap which was now silent, held it up to my eyes and looked through the slots to see if I could see a mouse--I could not.  I assumed I had another mouse escape.  Shaking my head in disgust, I retraced my steps back to the bedroom, again carefully getting back in the bed so I wouldn’t disturb sleeping Lucifer.
    Of course I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I set the clock radio to “nap” so it would play for 40 minutes, in which time I would hopefully be back in slumberland.  Unfortunately, the radio program was the same one I had heard that morning (with all the government cutbacks CBC now repeats the same programs about 3 times a week.)
    I must have eventually fallen back to sleep, because at 1:30, I was again awakened by the metal scratching sound.  Again, careful not to wake the cat, I got up walked to the pantry, turned on the light, picked up the live trap and peered in.  Again I saw nothing, but my brain was awake enough to have a thought--maybe the mouse is in the trap, but just hiding in the entrance way, where it could not be seen.  I wasn’t going to be fooled again, so I took the trap, opened the door, put on my gum boots, and carried the trap outside to the barn.  
    The “Super Full Moon” was still high in the sky and so I didn’t need any light to find my way to the barn.  Once in the barn, I turned on the light, lowered the box to the floor and opened the lid.  The mouse remained hiding, but I left the lid open and the live trap on the floor.  I figured the barn was a good place to let the mouse live, since I no longer have anything in there that needs mouse protection.
    I walked back to the house, took off my boots, turned off the lights, and carefully got back into bed.  Lucifer remained sleeping.
    Again, I turned on the clock radio to nap, and listened to some show from Germany about kids playing music or something, I don’t really remember.  Fortunately, I did eventually fall back to sleep.  Unfortunately, at 3:15 I was again awakened by the sound of mouse scratching metal in a live trap. 
    Shaking my head in disbelief, I got back up, went to the kitchen, and located the sound coming from the live trap under the cutting board table.  This time when I picked up the trap and looked through the slots I saw the mouse.  I put on my gum boots, and once again made a trip out to the barn so that this new mouse could join his buddy in a new life there.  This mouse was more energetic, and as soon as I opened the lid of the trap, it leaped out and was gone.
    Back to bed, the radio, and finally sleep.  I was a horrible night, but at least there are two less mice in the house, and our cat Lucifer had a restful and peaceful night of sleep.

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Sunday 13 July 2014

A Bear About

    Regular readers of this blog know that part of my daily routine is walking the trail through the woods with Joan and Skye.  For the past week we haven’t done the walk.  Joan has been having trouble with her leg/hip, and when I tried to walk the trail with Skye, she has been too freaked out and uncomfortable, especially now that Joan isn’t ‘covering her back,’ as we walk through the high underbrush.
    There has been bear activity along the trail.  Bushes with early berries, have been mashed down by bears in a not too subtle way.  As a result I have just given up on walking the trail.  Instead we have been walking around the pond, which is shorter and more out in the open and not so scary for Skye.  
    This morning on our walk around the pond, we came up on this big pile of bear poop right on the pond trail.  It had been deposited overnight.  Skye took great interest in sniffing it, and Lucifer, our cat (who accompanies us on this shorter walk) left the trail and walked in the weeds, giving a wide berth around the pile.
    So far this has been a good bear.  It doesn’t come close to the house, and is happy doing its own thing out in the woods.  It’s usually in the fall when they cause trouble and come into the yard and tear up our fruit trees as they “carbo-load” in preparation for winter.

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Saturday 12 July 2014

Tiger Moth

    It used to happen quite regularly during the summer.  I would be out weeding the garden, and would begin to hear the drone of an airplane approaching.  Then suddenly coming from behind the top of a tree, I would see Dr. Cowburn’s bright yellow Tiger Moth arcing across the sky, as it began to adjust its approach to the McBride airfield.  It was always an exciting moment to hear the sputtering of the old engine and the watch the brilliant yellow bi-plane against the deep blue sky.
    It was quite a surprise yesterday, when again I was out weeding in the garden, to hear and see the old plane in the air circling.  Dr. Cowburn, who was McBride’s only doctor for decades before we moved here in 1977, babied his antique plane and whenever there was a clear day and he had time off, he would take it for a joy ride.  As he aged, he could no longer fly the Tiger Moth alone, but other local  pilots were always happy to take the controls and give Dr. Cowburn a ride. 
    The good doctor left the village to live with a relative last year, after his wife died.  I’m am not sure if he was in the plane yesterday for a ride, or whether one of his pilot friends was just taking it up to blow the carbon out of the exhaust, but it was good to see and hear the old girl in the sky again.

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Friday 11 July 2014

Smoke in the Valley

    Maybe its all my years of working at the BC Forest Service, but whenever we start getting a dry spell during the summer, I can’t help but worry about the possibility of forest fires.  We are in a dry spell now, and BC has a couple of big fires going on.  Fortunately, they are far away.
    The closest is the Red Deer Creek Fire which is situated near Tumbler Ridge, BC.  As the crow flies it is 124 km (77 miles) from McBride.  Despite the distance, we are not unaffected by the fire.  The Robson Valley is starting to haze over from smoke from its smoke.  Last night as I took Skye out for her final pee, this helicopter, which I assume had something to do with the fire, was flying through the smoky haze, as it returned to the McBride Air Field.

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Thursday 10 July 2014

Wet Delphiniums

    It has been relatively dry in the Robson Valley and the garden had begun to developed some cracked soil, so I thought I’d better turn on the water sprayer and moisten things down.   After several hours, when I turned the water off, I noticed the light reflecting off of the drop-laden delphiniums and rushed in to the house and got my camera.

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Tuesday 8 July 2014

The Curse of New Technology

    For some reason, I like to document the interesting things I see.  I have always liked to take photos, and later, videos of the things and people around me.  I also really like all the ways new technology will allow me to record those things, but documenting and technology are starting to work against each other.  
    Time was, when you could take a photo, and a hundred years later, if you didn’t lose that photo in a fire or flood, you could still take a look at it.  Now with digital cameras taking those photos is even easier and cheaper, and you can crop, improve the lighting, and correct the color of that photo on the computer, then view the photo in a much larger format on the computer screen.  Its wonderfully  improved over the snapshots of the past.
    The problem is, unlike the paper snapshot, technology keeps changing and eventually you may not be able to view those old photos on the computer screen.  If you had them stored on a floppy disc or a zip drive, both formats that have disappeared, you are no longer able to insert them into a new computer.  External Drives of the past used different cables than what new computer will accept.
    The photo above shows all the Hi-8 video tapes that my old camcorder recorded years of home videos on.  Each tape represents 1 hour of video.  I can no longer import them into my computer because of changes in cables, and video software.  The problem becomes even more difficult if you recorded videos on the old VHS tapes.  
    When I was recording all these videos, I felt it was important just to get those things I was seeing recorded, I figured I could edit the material later.  Some of it I did edit and put on DVD’s (which I can still play), however, most of the video is still on these old Hi-8 tapes.  As I said, my computer software will no longer recognize these videos, or accept the old cables from the camcorder.  So if I don’t want to lose this stuff--and I don’t, I am going to have to jump through a lot of hoops before I can once again use it.
    I am still able to see the unedited videos through the camcorder on my TV, so I tried playing them there while video recording with my new HD camcorder from the TV screen, this I was then able to import into the computer and edit, but I lost some definition.  I also discovered that the definition of the old tape had deteriorated with time.
    Luckily, I found out that this week Costco is having a sale on transferring old video from VHS and Hi-8 tapes onto DVD, so I have picked out 10 of the tapes to transfer to DVD.  Once it is on DVD, I have a program to take the video off of DVD, and import it into my computer and then use the video software program to edit it at which point I can burn my own DVD of the edited video.  It just means spending more time and money on something I thought I already had.
    Of coarse, after I do all this, I wonder just how long DVD’s will be around.

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Monday 7 July 2014

Old Shoes

    I have trouble throwing old clothes away.  That includes shoes.  After several years now of being on the verge, I have finally decided it was time to throw these old runners away.  I am not sure when I bought them,  they were already relegated and classified as ‘work’ shoes when I painted “Reunion” back in 2010 (see photo below).
    I like to have two pairs of runners, one good pair for wearing out in public, and an old pair for everyday working around the house.  A year and a half ago, I realized that this old work pair was about ready to chuck in the trash, so I bought a brand new pair, but then I continued to wear these old beaters and the new pair stayed in storage out in my shop.
    Finally the other day, I forced myself to retrieve the new ones and wear them, so that meant that the previous good pair becomes my work pair and these old ones are going in the trash can.  Truth be told, they are not actually in the trash can yet, but they are going to be.

You can see the whole "Reunion" painting and others at:

Sunday 6 July 2014

Fern Patch

    Since ferns are one of my favorite plants, it is nice that they grow so abundantly in the Robson Valley.  The photo shows a patch of waist-high ferns that grow along the dam of my pond.  They are actually growing on my neighbor’s land, and I was a bit distressed when I saw him laying out a roadway down to a field that would have run right through the ferns.  Because the area where the ferns grow is quite damp and soggy, I was fortunately able to persuade him to jog his road to higher and firmer ground, thus saving the ferns.

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