Saturday 31 January 2015

Another Walk, Another Story

    As has been our habit lately, in the afternoon we drove out to take a walk with the dog.  We decided on quiet and lonely Jervis Road again.  We had just gotten out of our truck and started strolling down the road, when we spotted a vehicle rounding the curve and coming up behind us.  I didn’t really expect to see any one driving down Jervis Road.  When it passed us, I saw that is was (I will call them “G.” and “I.”)  “G.” traps and they live way out in the middle of nowhere on Holmes River Forest Road.  We know them fairly well, so it didn’t surprise me when they pulled over and stopped.
    There are many unique and unusual characters that gravitate to isolated areas like the Robson Valley  (I live here right!), but “G.” is among the most unique and unusual.  He is a walking hurricane.  Whenever I run into him, I feel like I have to brace myself.  He is very friendly, constantly patting you on the shoulder, but he speaks very loudly and not alway coherently, and I often find it difficult to understand what he is talking about.  This is what I understood from our conversation yesterday.
    As I said they live in a small cabin way out in the bush, along a logging road that is not plowed during the winter.  It is of course off the grid and heated by wood.  In the winter the only way they can get in and out is by snowmobile.  Yesterday morning the snowmobile driven by the son, took off to haul “I.” into the cabin, leaving “G.” waiting at the start of the road for it to come back to pick him up to haul him in.  He waited and waited.  After more than an hour, “G.” began to worry that something happened.  
    Eventually “I.” (I think) returned (via snowshoes?), anyway the snowmobile had had  a serious breakdown, and they were then left without transportation into their cabin and not knowing what to do about it.  They really depend on the snowmobile.  They have a few small farm animals, and they can’t really leave the cabin unattended for a few days.  “G.” and “I.” were driving into McBride seeking a solution to their problem.  I assume the only way they can solve it is to find someone who will loan them a snowmobile for a while.
    We wished them good luck, they got back into the car and drove away.  With all the excitement over, we resumed our walk down the quiet lonely country road.

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Friday 30 January 2015

A One-Wheeled Trailer

    I was looking through some old slides the other day and came upon this one, which reminded me of something that happened back in 1978.  Most of the information is lost in the fog of time, but here are the rough details.  
    This trailer originally belonged to my father.  He gave it to me in 1973, when we were immigrating to Canada.  We used it to haul all of our worldly goods up to our new home.  Four years later when we finally settled into our place in McBride, I used the trailer to haul firewood, sand, hay, etc. 
    During one such hauling trip, I was two miles from our house when the tire blew out and wheel rim dragged on the road ruining it.  It was a weird size tire and rim, and couldn’t readily be replaced, so I was faced with a dilemma; I wanted to get the trailer back to our house rather than leave it at the side of road for a week, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it.
    While pondering all the possible solutions, I happened to think of how the North American Indians, who had no wheels, used to move things by way of a travois, and that became my solution.  The photo shows what I did.  At the time, Mountainview was just a dirt road, so I rigged up the pole to support the one side of the trailer and dragged it back to our house.  Naturally, the end of the pole wore down, but not before I did managed to get the trailer back home.
    It was a bit of a “harebrained”  idea, but it worked.

You can see my photo-realistic paintings at:

Thursday 29 January 2015

There's An App For That

    While I am fairly well versed in computer related things, I am certainly not at the cutting edge of what’s happening, so this might be old news, but I am always amazed at some of the things that one can do with all this new technology.
    Yesterday when Joan, Skye, and I were doing our walk, high above us there was an airliner slicing a con trail across the sky.  In many places one can see a jet in the sky pretty much every time they look up, but in McBride, it only happens a few times a day.  
    Anyway, when Joan saw the plane, she grabbed her iPhone, hit an app, and then told me, “It’s a Delta flight that took off in Detroit and is going to Tokyo.” 
      That’s amazing.

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Wednesday 28 January 2015

"Joan, There's a Plane."

    Regular readers of this blog will know that Joan and I often take our dog to the McBride airfield for a walk.  We walk up and down the runway.  It is a good place to walk a dog because it is safer than a road (no vehicles or other dogs), we walk on pavement (no muddy feet), and it gives us a nice view of both mountain ranges.  
    We sometimes see some aircraft activities (Helicopters used by Heli-skiers, local wireless airplane fliers, or airplane owners working on their planes), on rare occasions while we are walking down the tarmac, a plane actually comes in to land, so we keep our eyes and ears open, but it doesn’t happen very often.   It did happen yesterday.
    We had made it to the far end of the runway and when I looked around I saw an airplane in the distance.  I told Joan, and we moved off the runway and onto the grassy area beside the runway, kneeled, and got a good grip on the dog.
    The aircraft approached, but instead of landing, circled around.  It finally made an approach and started to land, touching the runway,but then, taking off again.  We weren’t sure what was going on.  I thought maybe the pilot was just practicing his landing.
    By this point, Joan and I had moved further away from the tarmac and were walking through the wet grass and pooled water on the grassy margins of the runway.  Joan was complaining about getting her feet all wet.  The plane once again came in for a landing, and this time completed it and pulled over next to the hangers.
    When we got over to the plane we discovered that the pilot was John Wheeler.  We hadn’t known that he could fly.  He told us that he had just bought the plane and had flown it down from Prince George.  It was his first solo flight.  We talked a while about flying to John and Robert Frear  (local historian who was also present)  Robert told us a story about a past resident who liked to fly after he was drinking.
    At daybreak one morning after a night of drinking the guy had taken off with a couple of friends as passengers.  The plane crashed in the woods beside the airstrip, demolishing the aircraft.  Fortunately, everyone was miraculously unhurt and they just left the wreck and walked to work.

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Tuesday 27 January 2015

Feels Like Breakup

    “Breakup” is the term we northerners give to the period when all the ice and snow that has fallen over the winter begins to melt, and is replaced by water and mud.  It is not here yet, and we probably have at least another month before it actually occurs, but it is beginning to look like it, and certainly feels like it.  At 9:30 AM as I write this the temperature is +4 C (39F).  The normal daytime “high” temperature for this day is -4C (24F), so the Robson Valley is experiencing a lot warmer temperatures than is normal.
    Our yard is still covered with about 30 cm (12 in.) of snow, but that snow is getting thinner and thinner with the rain and above freezing days and nights.  The constant dripping sound from the roof, makes it seem like it is always raining outside, but it is just all the water from melting snow on one level of the roof falling to the lower.

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Monday 26 January 2015

What Mountain?

    Above you see two photos taken from the same location.  The one on top was taken yesterday, during our rainy moist invasion of a Pacific Low air mass.  The one below it was shot a couple of weeks ago while we were under the influence of an Arctic High weather system.  The photos sure demonstrate a huge difference in color and what you are able to see.  It looks like we have four more days of  the warm (above freezing temperatures) and grey wet days.  I think you can see why most people that live in the Robson Valley prefer it to be a bit colder during the winter.

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Sunday 25 January 2015

Icy Driveway Adventure

    After two days of heavy rain, our driveway has once again turned into an icy downhill track.  We are having a visitor this morning, so I was out early spreading ashes (from our wood stove,) and sand and gravel (which I keep on hand during the winter), on top of the ice, to provide a bit of traction.  This driveway transformation from snow to ice happens every winter, but it is not something I look forward to.
    Here is an adventure from my diary that I had back in 1995 when our driveway was in a similar state:

   Jan. 27/95, Friday-
        “During the coffee break I mentioned that I had recorded a TV show that was on last night that had a segment that featured Darcy Yule, our old District Manager.  This generated a lot of interest, so I volunteered to drive home during the lunch hour, get it, and bring it back so the staff could watch it during the afternoon.  I made a big mistake when I picked out the 2-wheel drive warehouse truck to make the pickup.
    When I got to my driveway, it was so icy that I decided that I shouldn’t drive down it, so I was just going to park at the top.  Then a car came down the road so thought I’d better pull more off the road, so I just inched into the driveway a little bit more.  The front end of the truck was just slanted down hill a bit, but because of the ice under the back wheels, it was enough to prevent me from backing back out into the road.  
    I didn’t know what else to do, so I decided to drive forward down the driveway  just as far as the level area between the shop and the barn.  There I thought I might be able to get enough of a run on the drive so I could back out.  It didn’t work, so again I thought I would just drive forward some more, down all the way to the carport.  Once I got into the dry carport I was able to get enough inertia to back all the way to the turnaround spot, where I got the truck aimed into the right direction to allow me to drive out of the driveway.  Unfortunately, just being aimed in the right direction, didn’t really give me enough traction to drive up the icy drive.  I was stuck there.
    Running out of ideas, I finally decided to fire up my old green 4-wheel drive truck, which was parked in the turnaround space, and see if I could tow the 2-wheel drive Forestry truck up the hill.  I positioned my old green truck in front of the Forestry truck, I hooked a tow rope between the two, got into my old truck and slowly pulled the other truck back up to the level area between the shop and the barn.
    I unhooked my old 4WD and drove it up the driveway and parked it up on the side of the road.  I skated back down to the Forestry truck got in and tried to drive it up to the road.  After three unsuccessful attempts, I was finally able to get it up to the road, where I left it.  I drove my old 4WD back down the drive and parked it.  I carefully walked back up the icy driveway, got into the Forestry truck and drove, with the VCR tape back to the office.  It was a lunch hour to remember.”

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Saturday 24 January 2015

Industrial Kitchen

    Many years ago, while waiting for the cashier at the hardware store, we got into a conversation with an acquaintance who was a Seventh Day Adventist.  The Seventh Day community that live around McBride are very health conscious, they are vegetarian and pay a lot of attention to what they eat lots of vegetables, nuts, and grains.  As a result studies have shown that as a group, they live longer.
    Anyway in our conversation the guy told us about his Vitamix machine.  Vitamix’s are really heavy duty blenders.   He said that after 20 years of use, his machine broke so he wrote to the company about getting it repaired.  They sent him a new one.   This impressed me both because it lasted so long and that the company stood behind the machine.
    He started telling us about all the amazing things you could do with the Vitamix.  He said you could make and cook soup in it.  Just put in chunks of all the things you want in the soup, like beans, carrots, onions, and tomatoes, and press the button.  The machine blades turn so fast that if you let it run, it actually heats up the mixture and cooks it.  
    It grinds up ice cubes, makes flour out of wheat, and all kind of other surprising feats.  As a result of this conversation, Joan and I were pretty intrigued by the Vitamix and decided to keep our ears and eyes open for more information about it.  When we discovered the price of the thing, our enthusiasm cooled somewhat.
    A couple of years ago when we were in Victoria and went to the Costco store, there was a man demonstrating the Vitamix and giving out samples of juice that he was making by grinding up fruit.  Again our interest was peaked, we thought about all the healthy stuff we could make out of vegetables and fruit, but we were stymied by that price.
    Costco recently put on a sale of Vitamix and the price was greatly reduced, so we finally made the plunge.  Ever since it arrived, Joan has been using it.
    She put some broccoli, cheese, and milk in it and let it run, and we had hot cheese and broccoli soup.  Every morning he has been making us fresh orange juice, by putting in chunks of oranges, a bit of water, and some ice cubes--just like an Orange Julius. 
    She threw some egg yolks, a bit of milk and cream, and vanilla into the Vitamix canister, hit the button, and in five minutes when we saw steam coming out of the top, we had a delicious custard.  We are both pretty impressed with all the things it will do.
    There is one downsize to the Vitamix and if you look at the photo you will probably guess what it is--it is very loud.  Both the dog and the cat scramble for safety whenever we turn it on.  I guess I will have to buy another set of ear protectors for my outside work (mowing, chainsaw, and snowblowing), since we now also need one for use in the kitchen.

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Friday 23 January 2015

Let Sleeping Cats Lie

    Cats are pretty mysterious creatures.  This is obvious enough during the day when you can see them running around in their own invented world, but I am sure a lot goes on during the night, when I am asleep that I am completely unaware of.  One of the things that has always puzzled us is where Lucifer sleeps.
    She has a nightly routine.  At bedtime, as I am lying in bed reading, she comes and plants herself on top of me.  She is perfectly content just to sit there.  Then when I make a move to put my iPad back on the shelf, she immediately leaps from her perch on top of me and onto the floor.  She goes over to her bowl of food and does a bit of eating, then she just disappears.
    Once, after her disappearance, I when down stairs, then as I came back up I happened to glance under my bed, and there she was, curled up and snoozing.  I had finally solved the mystery.  I found it strange that that is where she chose to do her sleeping, because the whole rest of the house is available to her.  She could curl up on her little bed, down by the wood stove, or on the sofa, or even beside me on the bed, but she seems to prefer under the bed, between my guitar case and a cardboard box containing a mat cutter.
    Last night when I once again saw her under in her chosen spot and decided to take a photo, she woke up and stared at me wondering what was going on.  That is why her eyes are open in the photograph.

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Thursday 22 January 2015

Computer Intruder

    Yesterday as I was upstairs working on my blog, Joan called out to me.  I could hear some urgency in her voice, so a rushed downstairs to see what was happening.  She was sitting in front of her computer looking at the screen.  She had been checking out airline prices and suddenly this  pop-up window appeared and wouldn’t let her go any further.  Because we have always used Apple products, we have never had any experience with viruses, so this was all new territory for us. 
    As I read it, I too became concerned, it was a pretty scary message:  “Your credit card details and banking information, email passwords and other account passwords, private photos, and webcam could be accessed remotely by stalkers, if potential viruses are not removed immediately.”--It was all scary stuff.  It said we could call 1-855-345-6102 immediately for support.
    I wasn’t sure what to do.  It seemed pretty likely that it was a scam, but at the same time it did feature the Safari browser icon in the corner, which made me think it was legit.  I was suspicious that by calling the “Toll Free” number, I would be told to give them access to the computer so they could “fix” the problem, and then they would end up with all the information the message had warned me about.   Instead, I did a Google search on the phone number.  It gave me a whole variety of different phone and other scams and complaints associated with that number, so I figured that this “Warning” was not to be trusted.
    But the problem remained that every time Joan tried to open up Safari, she got this pop-up screen and wasn’t allowed to go any further.  I went online to an Apple Support Community, and emailed the question of how to get rid of this screen.  Five minutes later, I got an email response from someone named Neil who said that all that needed to be done was to start up Safari while holding the “shift” key down.  
    I passed the word on to Joan, who tried it, and Safari opened without the scary pop-up.   As it turned out we didn’t have a virus, but this was a set up to open your computer to thieves who wanted to scare you into letting them access your computer.
    While it is distressing to realized that there are people out there trying to scare you into letting them “inspect” your computer, so that they will end up with all your computer information, it is good to know that at the same time, there are also people out there willing to share their computer knowledge so that you can solve your computer problems.

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Wednesday 21 January 2015

Old Cabin

    I have been watching this cabin slowly decay for decades.  I am not sure what the fascination is with old structures, but they always attract me.  I find myself wondering what dreams were being dreamed when the early settlers nailed the final shingle onto the roof of this, their newly built home.  What struggles and hardships did they endure as they lived in their log home?  When did they move on and abandon it?
    This old cabin on Hinkelman Road, just east of McBride, remained fairly intact until last winter when the concrete chimney blew over, destroying half of the roof.  Since then its decline has been much more rapid.  There are old decaying log cabins throughout the Robson Valley.  Most of the remaining ones are located in the bush, and coming upon them is always a surprise.

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Tuesday 20 January 2015

Cartoon: Snowshoe Safety

    Here is another cartoon for you.  Its conception began as I was thinking about some of the inane safety warnings you see when you buy a new item.

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Monday 19 January 2015

Elephant Ear

    I have just finished my 47th painting.  It is the underside of a leaf of an Elephant Ear plant.  Joan thinks it is my strangest painting, and it is different from most of my others.  While most of my works do feature leaves, they usually have leaves with hard edges and a lot of contrast in the darks and lights.  There is very little contrast in this one, and the definition is not very great.  This made it difficult for me to paint since there wasn’t much for me to “hold on to.”
    What I tried to capture in the image was the subtle changes of green and the transparent light that was shining through the leaf, and it does do that.   I don’t think its my favorite painting, but I do like the blast of bright green that it gives.  
    The painting is done in acrylics on an 16” x 20” (40cm x 50cm) canvas.  It to me 45 hours to paint (my quickest painting yet) I started painting it on October 5, 2014.
    I have already started on my next painting which will be back to one of my favorite subjects, Hosta leaves.

You can see all of my paintings at:

Sunday 18 January 2015

Mountain Light

    I don’t know when I started to pay attention to the millions of variations of light that blanket the landscape, but now it has become a constant habit to seek it out, whenever I go outside.  I am sure that writing this blog and posting a photo everyday, has intensified the pressure to find some interesting light.
    Fortunately, where ever you go, if you pay attention, you can find nice lighting, be it the prairies, the seashore, a desert, or a jungle.  I am happy to find mine here in the mountains, and enjoy both the subtle and blatant displays put on by the sun as it travels across the slopes.
     Of course, not every day will give me spectacular light and often I have to be satisfied with lighting that is just nice.  I can only go with what I find.  Here are a couple of shots I took the other day around 2:30 in the afternoon as we walked down Eddy Road.

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Saturday 17 January 2015

Eddy Road

    Yesterday afternoon, since we were in the McBride townsite, we thought we would do our walk out on Eddy Road.  Eddy Road is flat and lies parallel to the railroad tracks.  It is rural and so doesn’t have much traffic (we saw only three vehicles and the passenger train) and because it runs along the south side of the Robson Valley, it gives a good view of the Canadian Rockies which run along the north side.  Here are two photos that I took on the walk.

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Friday 16 January 2015


    Last week on the Bill Maher show, he was talking to Jay Leno about the fact that Jay didn’t like soup.  Jay said that soup was just a way to “cheat people out of a meal.”  I thought that was a really funny response, but I can’t relate to Jay’s dislike of soup.  It is one of the main foods in rotation for my lunches, and I always look forward to it.
    After we have a turkey or chicken, I usually boil the bones along with some celery and garlic and make a broth, which is then frozen.  When I make soup, I start with frying some onion, garlic, and a chili pepper, then I add the broth, a big jar of our home grown tomatoes that Joan canned, a couple of cans of kidney beans, and some frozen corn.  I season it all with salt and pepper of course, a dollop of hickory flavored barbecue sauce, and some MSG.  (I realized most people think MSG is poison, but it is not, and does add a nice flavor to the mix.)
    The photo shows the soup I made yesterday.  I used one of our jalapeno peppers which ended up being a lot hotter than I imagined, and unfortunately it made the soup too spicy hot for Joan, so I will have to eat the whole pot, but that is not a problem.  Even though I broke into a powerful sweat when I ate the soup yesterday, I thought it was delicious, and I am looking forward to reliving the experience  again for lunch today.

My paintings can be viewed at:

Thursday 15 January 2015

Give Me Some Peace, Cat

    When you go into the bathroom and shut the door, you expect a little peace and privacy, at least that is the way I feel.  Unfortunately in our house, there are two things that keep this expectation from happening.  One, is the fact that when you close the bathroom door, it doesn’t really latch completely.  The second is that Lucifer, our cat, takes it as a personal affront when a door is closed to her.
    To our dismay, being a clever cat, Lucifer has learned that she can often open closed doors by giving them a good push with her head.  This means when you are busy in the bathroom, the door opens and in walks Lucifer to survey the situation and to check out what is going on.
    That is what happened this morning.  I was in the bathroom doing my business with the door closed.  I heard a “clunk”, the door cracked open and in walked Lucifer.  She walked around, checking out all the nooks and corners of the room, then turned and walked back out.
    I leaned over and shut the door again, and got back to what I was doing.  There was another “clunk,” again the cat walked in and checked all the corners, then turned and left.  I shut the door again, only to again hear the “clunk” and see the cat.  It was like the movie “Ground Hog Day” where the exact same thing kept happening over and over.
    By the time I got finished in the bathroom, Lucifer had let herself in five times.  Fortunately, this has only happened with Joan and I, so far (and I keep my fingers crossed) it hasn’t happened when we have had guests using the bathroom.

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Wednesday 14 January 2015

Compost Heat

    I have always been fascinated by the fact that a lot of bacteria eating away at organic matter can generate heat.  In some cases, dangerous amounts of heat.  I don’t know if its true or not, but I have heard stories of barns burning down because hay wasn’t dry enough when it was stored and the bacteria made so much heat eating the moist hay, that a fire resulted.  The fact scared me enough so that I always made sure my hay was good and dry before I put it in the barn.
    Of course, the heat is one of the main ideas behind compost piles.  In a successful compost pile the heat that is generated by the bacteria, as it breaks down the organic matter, is hot enough to kill any weed seeds that are in the pile.
    When I got my willow trees trimmed, all of the branches were run through a chipper and I ended up with a big pile of wood chips.  I have recently been surprised to discover that all those chips are now composting and generating enough heat to melt the snow on top of the pile.  I didn’t expect the hard chips of wood could break down so quickly.  I figured that maybe in a few years of sitting in the weather, some of the chips would start to decompose, but I guess bacteria doesn’t like to sit around with nothing to do.
    By contrast our regular compost pile, where we daily dump all of our food scraps, doesn’t generate any heat at all during the winter.  As soon as I dump the food scraps on the compost pile and go back into the house, the deer come around and eat everything just dumped there.  During the winter, our  compost “pile” is just a big empty hole in the snow.

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Tuesday 13 January 2015


    There are 24 inches (60 cm) of snow on the ground and it is difficult to go anywhere unless there is some kind of path to it.  I haven’t been on our trail for a couple of weeks.  Yesterday, I was determined to snowshoe the trail in order to push down the fluffy snow so eventually we will be able to walk the trail again.
    It was hard going.  You can see from the photo that even with the snowshoes I was sinking quite a bit in the snow.  I will have to snowshoe the trail again, this time stepping in in between the steps I took previously, so I get the whole trail pressed down. 
    I worked up quite a sweat trying to get the trail walkable, I hope I can complete the task before more snow moves in.

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Monday 12 January 2015

Blue Skies and Snow

    We took advantage of the blue skies, mild temperatures (-2C, 28F), and sunshine to do another walk on Jervis Road, just east of McBride.  Here are a couple of photos that I took as we walked down the quiet country road.

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Sunday 11 January 2015

Waiting For Bluebirds

    Seeing this spot of blue against all the dull gray, was like a promise that spring would eventually come.  You see a lot of bluebird houses perched atop the fenceposts around open fields and pastures in the Robson Valley.  Catching a glimpse of the Mountain Bluebird swooping across an open area is always a treat in the spring.  I am eager for the time before that happens to pass quickly.

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Saturday 10 January 2015

Hard Traveling

    The other day I noticed these tracks left by a deer that bounded across our pasture.  Every time it landed it made a deep imprint in the deep snow with its belly.  It must be pretty exhausting work for a deer to do much traveling through the soft snow.  Even with snowshoes, that prevent you from sinking too deep into the snow, moving across the land is hard work.
    Animals are not only faced with difficult travel in the winter, but they also have to deal with shortages of food and difficulty in getting at what food is available.  All in all, winter is tough test for survival for animals in the north. 

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Thursday 8 January 2015

1999 Diary Entry: Greenhouse Collapse

    The other day I blogged about recovering my digital diaries.  As I was looking through them, I noticed this photograph on Jan. 14, 1999.  This was the only time I ever put a photo in with the diary entry.  We were getting a lot of heavy snow that winter, and the snow load got to be too much for my greenhouse, and the photo shows what happened.
    Here is the entry from my diary:

Jan, 14/99 Fri.
Quite a surprise this morning when we got into the car and looked out the windshield and discovered that the greenhouse had collapsed overnight from the snow load.  I didn’t have time to investigate until I got off work at 4:00.  It is quite a mess.  It looks like all of the greenhouse glass is broken, but I won’t really know until the snow melts and I can clean  it up.  I called the insurance and it sounds as if they will pay for a replacement.  That‘s good news.  Temperatures were just above freezing again today.  I did start knocking some of the overhanging snow off of the roof of the house.  It doesn’t seem to be sliding very quickly and there is about 2 inches of ice on it’s base that is very strong and allows it to extend 18 inches over the edge of the roof without breaking.  Tomorrow I think I will shovel some of the roof.
    The picture shows what the green house looked like when I got off work.  Several people thought it was interesting that the cartoon I did, which was in the paper this week, was asking how thick the snow on the roof should be before one needs to shovel it off.

    When I got around to re-building the greenhouse that spring, I made it stronger by putting a support post in the middle of roof span. 

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Wednesday 7 January 2015

McBride, BC: Between the Ranges

    Above, is a cartoon that I drew early in my cartooning “career.”  I think about this cartoon every time we go into town after a big snowfall.  Yesterday when we went to McBride, I was once again reminded of it.
    The Village of McBride used to have a circular logo which sported a fishing rod and a rifle crossed in front of an image of some mountains, and circled around the logo was the motto: “ McBride, B.C.  Between the Ranges”  (McBride lies in a valley between the Cariboo Mountains, and the Canadian Rockies)   The fact that the logo featured a rifle made me an dislike the logo immensely , but when I saw how snow was cleared from Main Street, I happily took advantage of the motto for a cartoon.
    To clear the snow from Main Street, all the snow from the edges of the street is pushed into the middle, leaving a long “mountain range” of snow down the center of the road.  
    Below is a photo of the “range” that I took yesterday.

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Tuesday 6 January 2015

The Peanut Butter Log

     Many years ago, I took an old piece of log, drilled holes in it, hung it up on a branch, and filled the holes with peanut butter, for the birds to eat during the winter.  It has proven to be a popular dining spot not only for the birds, but also for the deer and the squirrels.  By the end of every day all the peanut butter is gone and part of my morning routine is to refill it.
    This of course means that we end up having to buy a lot of peanut butter, but I don’t mind if it keeps all the critters happy.  When it gets really cold, the peanut butter has the consistency of a rock and the birds really have to work with their beaks to get chunks of it.  Skye always makes a habit of checking under the log to “Hoover” up any bits of peanut butter that the other animals have dropped.

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Monday 5 January 2015

Diary Troubles

    For some unexplained reason, I have felt a need to document things that happen in my life.  That is the reason I have always taken a lot of photographs, and in 1973, when Joan and I moved to Canada, I began keeping a diary.   It was a habit that I kept for 30 years until 2003, when I retired.  Most of those daily notes were kept in picture calendar books as shown in the photo above.
    In 1999, I decided to get modern so instead of using a book, I began to record the day’s events on the computer.  It was quick, easy to edit, and legible.  In 2003, all my documenting began to fizzle out, but the digital diaries remained on my computer.  I sure didn’t want to loose them, so I made sure I had them backed up whenever I updated my computer.
    It was a nasty surprise to discover that when the Mac went to OS X, that Apple began using a new format for their writing program.  For years, they had used Claris Works, or AppleWorks, then suddenly they changed to Pages.  Apple had always been very good to make sure that documents made with their old programs could be imported in to their new software, but that didn’t happen with the introduction of Pages.
    The other day as was trying to organize the thousands of photos that were on an external drive, I discovered those digital diaries.  I could not open or read any of them.  It was a depressing thought that unless I found some way to open a .cwk file, all that writing effort would be for naught.  I did a search on the internet hoping to find some solution to opening an old .cwk file, and somehow getting it into another format.
    The search came up pretty negative, but one person had made a comment about a program called LibreOffice, that was a free download.  I had nothing to loose, and so I downloaded it, and amazingly enough, it opened my diaries, and allowed me to change them to a .docx file which I then could open in Pages.  So for now at least, my digital diaries are again readable.
    All this made me think about modern technology, and how there can be a severe price to be paid for ease of use.  That price can be the complete loss of important data as software updates and changes.  In contrast, all of those old diary pages that I did on paper with a ball point pen are just as readable as they were when I wrote them, and I didn’t have to do anything to read them except open the book.

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Sunday 4 January 2015

Hosta #5, Photo & Painting

    I have thousands and thousands of digital photographs, most of them stored on an external drive.  When I am looking for a particular photo, I am faced with a daunting  task, because when I open the hard drive all I see is a very long list of extremely small images and accompanying photo number.  I pretty much have to open each individual photo to see what it is.  
    Lately I have been trying to organize all those photos so that it will be easier to find any specific one.  I have divided them them into files, such as  “Flowers”, “Mountains” etc., then those categories are further subdivided into things like, “Ladyslippers”, “Mt. Lucille”, etc.  Anyway, before I can place any photo in the file where I can find it, I have to look at each one of the thousands of pictures.  In doing so I have had a lot of memories reawakened and I have come across some of the photos on which I have based paintings.
    On top, you see the photo that I based my painting “Hosta #5” on.  Below it is the painting.  People often dismiss realism in art by saying that you might as well use the photograph, but in order to paint it, the image has to pass through the painter’s eyes, then the brain, and finally through his hands. In doing so, the image always comes out differently.  I like to intensify the colors and exaggerate the light and textures.
    Once in Holland I went to the M.C. Escher Museum.  It was full of amazing things, and one of the displays that I found most interesting was a photo of a village, and the drawing that Escher did of that scene.  I hope you will find the two images above just as interesting.

You can see all of my paintings at:

Saturday 3 January 2015

The Story Behind the Photo

    The other day it was snowing, so Joan put the raincoat on Skye, to keep the snow off of her back when she was outside.  When Skye came in, she didn’t even stop at the door, so that we could take the coat off, but went straight into the bedroom, and curled up on the bed.  That was what I was going to take the photo of--Skye, in her raincoat, in the bed.
    The room was dark, so I thought I’d better use the flash on the camera.  The room was so dark, I could hardly tell where I was aiming my camera, but I pointed it best I could and snapped the photo. 
     When I looked at the photo through the little screen.  Being so small and dark, it was hard to distinguish what was in the photo, but what I could see was a bright white swirl in the middle of the shot.  I thought I must be some kind of len’s flair caused by the light of the flash bouncing off of a glass surface or something, so I took another shot, and another.  I took about six shots, but all of them had the white swirl in the middle.  I was confused by what was causing the light, and on the small camera screen, I couldn’t tell what the problem was.
    When I downloaded the photos onto the computer, I could plainly see what was causing the light, it was the reflective strip along the edges of Skye’s raincoat.  I must say, it sure does a good job of reflecting.  It looks like a neon light and gives the shot sort of an eery quality.

My paintings can be seen at: