Thursday 30 April 2015

Unrolling Hostas

    I always find it fascinating to see how plants get to the shape they need to be.  Some seem to unfold, others uncurl, and others unroll.  My hostas emerged out of the ground as cigar-shaped  projections, then they began to unroll.  Here are some shots.

I've done lots of paintings of hostas, see them at:

Wednesday 29 April 2015


    We got some wild weather yesterday afternoon.  It had been a warm 17C (62F) when Joan, Skye, and I climbed into the car for a trip to McBride.  When we got down the Fraser River, the wind was kicking up dust from the beaches and blowing it across the road.  It was like driving in a heavy fog where you couldn’t see anything until you were right up on it.  There were white caps on the Fraser.
    The wind ripped and roared the whole time we were in town, and you could feel the temperature dropping all the while.  An hour later as we were returning home the temperature was down to 7C (44F).  It rained then for the rest of the afternoon and into the night.

Take a look at my paintings:

Tuesday 28 April 2015

A Time to Plant

    The rhythm of the seasons continues.  Yesterday I finally put my young tomato plants into the ground in the greenhouse.  Because of the extreme temperature differences (below freezing at night and very warm during the day), I have been carrying flats of tomato plants from the house to the greenhouse during the day and back into the house during the night.
    I have no extra heat in my greenhouse.  When built it I made sure I had a lot of cement in the construction so that it would hold the heat during the night.  Even so my tomato plants are so valuable to me, I didn’t want to take any chances with them.  I figure now that they should be safe in the greenhouse.
    I planted 54 tomato plants.  They represent seven different varieties.

My painting can be seen at:

Monday 27 April 2015

Book Deja Vu

    Reading is one of my favorite pastimes.  How many times has it happened that I pick up a fresh book to read and as I begin to plow through it, start to think, “this sounds familiar, or “wait a minute, I know what happens next,” then realize that I have already read the book.  Today’s blog isn’t exactly about that  that kind of deja vu, but is about picking out books that you figure will be an interesting read.
    Because I read a lot, and get twitchy when I am without anything to read, I am constantly on the lookout for books to read to keep in storage for meager times.  Because I am a cheapskate by nature, I very rarely buy a new book, instead I look for free books, library books, or second hand books.  Since I am always looking for, and finding books I think I would like to read, I don’t always get around to reading them right away.  Once they are home I set them aside, and then start reading them when I get done with whatever I am reading at the time.
    Some time ago I found this thick Wilbur Smith book and had it sitting by my bedside for a couple of months.  Finally, I started reading it.  It is a swash-buckling adventure that takes place in the jungles and  deserts of Africa.  I always read historical fiction, but usually the things I read are not so adventurous, but I have been enjoying the book.  
    The other day, as I was walking to my computer in my office, I glanced up at the book shelf and saw the book.  
    “How did it get here?”  I wondered.  Then figured that Joan must have not realized that I was currently reading it and put it on the shelf.  I picked up the book and took it to put back on the bed stand, only to discover that the same book was already there.
    I guess I already had found one copy of the book and stashed it away for future reading and didn’t realized it when I came upon the second copy which I grabbed it for the same purpose.  I am going to blame all this forgetfulness on old age.

Look at my paintings:

Sunday 26 April 2015

Photo Show

    There is currently a diverse photography exhibition at the museum at the McBride Library displaying the photos of 5 local photographers.  I am happy to be one of the five with photos on display.  I chose to show examples of closeups of plants (and one of frost) because they were so rich in color.  
    Also on display are the amazing technical photography of Matthew Wheeler, who has examples of photos using an ice lens, and some spectacular shots of an aurora borealis and the moon hovering over the tip of a mountain.  Marilyn Wheeler has focused her camera on more common scenes from the Robson Valley, sheep grazing in a lush pasture and a shot of the diversity to be seen on a forest floor which shows mushrooms and a myriad of mosses on a fallen log.  
    Bill Arnold chose to feature his historical images.  They show interesting local events of the past including shots of a landslide that closed off the Fraser River, something I was completely unaware of.  Rounding off the exhibition are a couple of stunningly colorful photos by Darwin Paton, lush with the light of sunsets on mountains and a lake.
    If you are in McBride you might want to stop in at the library to take a look at the diverse view of our chunk of the world as seen through the lens of some local photographers.

You can see some examples of my paintings at:

Saturday 25 April 2015

A Creature of Habit

    We periodically give our dog Skye a bone to gnaw on.  Normally we give it to her on the porch and she then carries it over to the yard where she goes to work on it.  Yesterday was a day of horrible weather.  It rained hard and tried to snow.  
    It was Skye’s bone day, but because of the awful weather, when she handed the bone to Skye, Joan tried to encourage Skye to keep it on the porch and not take it to the yard, but Skye is a creature of habit and immediately carried the bone out into the rain and began to go at it.  She ignored Joan’s pleadings to chew on it under the shelter of the porch.  I suspect that bones probably taste better when covered with dirt and yard debris.
    Finally seeing the futility of trying to get Skye to change her habits, Joan went back into the house and got Skye’s raincoat and put it on the dog.  Skye remained out in the rain and wet snow with her bone for an hour.

Take a look at my photo-realistic paintings:

Friday 24 April 2015

Raindrops on Lupine

    Even though I  have already taken hundreds of photos of raindrops on lupines, I can’t seem to pass up another opportunity.   With the showers we have been getting over the last few days, the lupines are just standing there holding the jewel-like drops of water and every time we walk through the lupine patch beside the pond, I end up bending over the plants with my camera and snapping away.  Here are some of my recent photos.

My paintings can be seen at:

Thursday 23 April 2015

Spring, Season of Transitions

    Yesterday when I stepped outside, I had my camera strapped to my side, but I didn’t have much hope in finding any worthwhile subjects for photos.  The weather was pretty grim--rain, snow, and cold, but surprisingly, I ended up taking 18 photos, most of which showed the transition toward spring that we are in the midst of.  
    All of the higher elevations were blanketed with snow, while in the lower reaches of the Robson Valley, trees were showing the light green color of their emerging young leaves.  Here are a few shots.

See my paintings:

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Breaking the Surface

    I hope you are having a better Earth Day than we are.  Despite seeing the first hummingbird of the spring this morning, the weather is cold, grey, and snowing here in McBride    Since it was Earth Day, I thought I would show you the photo I took last week of the waterlilies in my pond.  I have been watching their leaves  slowly unroll under the water, and now finally, they have stretched up and their leaves have broken the surface.
      This, the Yellow Waterlily  (Naphar lutea ssp. polysepala) is a native to British Columbia.  I got it to grow in my pond by collecting some tubers, some 24 inches, (60cm) long, that were floating on Horseshoe Lake in McBride.  I waded out into my pond with them, stuck them in the mud, and now they have slowly spread around the edges of my pond.

I have a painting of one of my waterlilies in bloom at:

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Daffodils, Fit for Bursting

    Spring is showing itself all over the Robson Valley now,  Everywhere I look things are popping out of the ground or beginning to leaf out.  The flowers of this clump of daffodils are squeezing to free themselves from their wrappings.   I noticed the swallows are back swooping and darting around the garden plot and checking out the bird houses underneath the eaves of my roof.  I love it.

Look at my photo-realistic paintings:

Sunday 19 April 2015

Waking Deer

    This morning when we went for a walk, we saw this deer all comfortable after spending the night sleeping in our pasture.  He watched us as we headed down our trail into the woods.  It lazily remained where it was we began to approach it our return route along the dam of our pond.  It began getting concerned as we got closer, thus the ears up.  That’s when I took the photo.  It finally got to its feet, turned, and easily hopped over the fence where it watched us from the woods.

My paintings can be seen at:

Saturday 18 April 2015

A Building and a Plane

    For months I have been going through my thousands of digital photos in an attempt to organize them so that I have some chance of finding the photos I am looking for.  Last night I was going through the photos that I took in Hong Kong where we went for my brother’s wedding in 2005.  
    Being someone who lives very far from any metropolitan area, I found myself fascinated by the many modern buildings in Hong Kong and I took lots of photos of the towering structures.  I had no recollection of taking this particular photo, but when I saw it I found it upsetting.  I assume I took it thinking about 911, but I didn’t realize just how unsettling the juxtaposition of the airliner and the building would be when I looked at the photo years later.
    I guess it shows how imprinted the events of 911 have become in my subconscious, even though I had no physical involvement in the event and only experienced it on TV.

Look at my paintings:

Friday 17 April 2015

Old Ducks, New Tricks

    I am fairly sure that the pair of mallards you see in the photo is the same pair that have been coming to my pond every year.   Even though I built the pond for wildlife habitat, it always becomes a bit of a problem when the ducks come to use it.  We like to walk around the pond, and I always feel hesitant to do so when ducks are on it because they get scared and fly away.  
    Some ducks are more tolerant than others.  The buffleheads just swim to the far side and continue to swim to the far side as we walk around it, but the mallards always got spooked and started quacking and flew off.  Finally this year they decided that we weren’t a threat and they now do what the buffleheads do, just stay on the pond, but always move to the side furthest from where we are.  Either they learned a new trick, or like me, they are just getting lazy in their old age.

View my paintings:

Thursday 16 April 2015

First Dandelion of the Season

    When you live in a place with such distinct seasons, it seems normal to watch for those changes in the seasons.  A couple of days ago while walking the dog at Koeneman Park, I noticed the first dandelion of the spring.  Soon the lawns and fields of the Robson Valley, BC will be awash in the yellow from these plants.  
    A lot of animals love to eat dandelions, in past years we have watched black bears comfortably sitting in fields gorging themselves on the flowers.  When I had goats their white muzzles used to be stained yellow during the dandelion season.

Take a look at my paintings:

Wednesday 15 April 2015

My First Forest Fire, Conclusion

    Grant and the fire bosses had decided that because of the heavy rain and our late night yesterday, there was no rush to get to get the men to the fire. The crew straggled out of the tents looking for their coffee and breakfast and by 8:30 Grant had them assembled and told them they would be hiking up to the fire, which was upslope one half mile away.  
    It was at this point that Todd first became an issue with the fire bosses. They had discovered that he was still wearing his raggedy old running shoes, and when they told him he should put his boots on, he had told them that he didn’t have any boots. This created a dilemma, because of fire safety concerns boots were a requirement and since we were in a remote area miles from anywhere, there really was no solution to the problem. 
    Grant lectured Todd about how he had been told to bring boots, and how irresponsible and dangerous it was to be out on a fire without them. Despite all of Grant’s earnest arguments, the words seemed to be sliding off of Todd, just like the rain was sliding off of the boughs overhead. In the end, Todd left the camp with the rest of the crew, walking in a single file line into the wet forest and up the slope toward the fire. 
    Because of my official position as Timekeeper, I was told to stay in camp and help JJ with the camp work and food. The men had made sandwiches for themselves before they left, and so once we had the dishes washed and the camp tidied up, I recorded everybody's start time on my timekeeper forms and busied myself cutting a trail down to the creek, where we would be getting water. 
    Around 10:30 Todd, now rain soaked, came ambling back to camp. I asked him why he had returned and he said that they needed some chainsaws up at the fire, and they wanted someone to come down to camp to see if we had any. 
    Then, like I was his closest friend, Todd confided to me, “When they asked for a volunteer to walk back to camp to see if there were any chainsaws, I jumped at the chance, because I didn’t like doing all that work up there, but then, as I started walking down here, I started thinking, ‘if there are chainsaws down at the camp, I will have to carry them back up to the fire’ and I started getting really worried.”
    I told Todd that luck was on his side, because there were no chainsaws in camp. 
    “Far out,” Todd replied, and walked over to the table under the tarp and grabbed a handful of cookies from a package. I resumed my hacking away at the underbrush clearing for the trail and after about 45 minutes, I noticed that Todd was still just hanging around the cook tent stuffing his face. I decided that since Todd didn’t seem to possess the motivation to scoot himself back up to the fire; I had better “play the heavy,” and encourage him along. 
    “Todd, you’d better be getting back to the rest of the crew, and tell them we have 
no chainsaws down here.” 
    “It’s quite a hike all the way back there.”, he replied. 
    “I’m sure it is, I countered, “and that’s why we pay those big firefighter wages.” 
    I figured I had set things straight, so I turned back to my trail clearing.  Then a bit later, I noticed that             Todd had not left for the fire and was messing around in his tent. 
    I am not one who likes to wield power, but since I had assumed the role of a Forest Service official, I felt obligated to help enforce the rules, so I confronted Todd in the tent and tried, to the best off my ability to I make things clear. 
    “Todd, if you don’t get back up to the fire, I am going to have to have to record 
you as not working, and you are not going to be paid for the time you are hanging around here.” 
He came up with a few lame excuses about why he needed to stay around camp, but he did, much to my relief, finally head back up the trail to the rest of the crew. 

    Around 4:00, (that’s 16:00 Forest Service time), the fire crew returned to the camp. I asked a few of the guys what they did and they told me they just cleared a helicopter landing area and cut some trails in the area close to the fire, and did some mopping up, but the rain had pretty much put the fire out. I asked about Todd, and their expressions and then their words, told me that he didn’t do much of anything up on the fire. 
    Todd’s lack of motivation, changed tremendously, once dinner time rolled around. He was first in line, and flopped 4 big pork chops down on his plate. This didn’t go unnoticed by the other fire fighters, who were having a difficult time keeping their resentment under control. We all settled down and ate around the fire, as the night closed in around us. 

    The next morning, the crew stayed in camp and the crew bosses went back up to check on the fire.  I spent the morning sharpening the polaski's . When the fire bosses returned to camp a couple of hours later, The fire was called out, and arrangements where made to start helicoptering the crew back home. 
    Just a skeleton crew of six would stay behind and keep an eye on the fire for another day.  We started to dismantle most of the camp which was packed up, the equipment piled for evacuation. The helicopter arrived and began to ferry the crew out. The chopper could only carry 4 passengers at a time, but slowly the population of the camp shrank down to just a handful.   As the last of the exiting boarded, and the helicopter sat ready to take off, Grant came stomping over to where we were organizing the fire fighting equipment and asked, “Has anyone seen Todd?”
     We looked around and shook our heads, “No, why?” 
    “This is last helicopter for the crew, and he’s no where to be seen.” 
    We all dropped what we were doing, and spread out around the empty camp site looking for him.  A chorus of “Todd, Todd.” rang out throughout the forest, but no Todd was could be found.  Although concern was expressed about whether he might have had an accident, I suspect that most of us were secretly thinking that he was out there somewhere hiding. Eventually, the decision was made that those in the helicopter should be ferried out, and the helicopter finally departed without him. 
    We continued our search for Todd without success.  The helicopter returned for JJ and I. We loaded up and where dropped off in a gravel pit near where Highway 16 crosses Dome Creek. We had a few hours to wait before our ride back home to McBride arrived and took advantage of the situation by taking a very cold skinny dip in Dome Creek. 
    I heard later that Todd eventually returned to camp, and the Forest Service had to send another helicopter, complete with a RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officer, to make sure Todd returned back to McBride. When the chopper landed and the the policeman stepped out, Todd took off running, but they were able to catch him and fly him back. 
    I don’t remember what legal troubles Todd’s behavior led too, but Todd amazingly, never held any grudge against me. He would occasionally drift into McBride every year or two, and whenever he spotted me, he would come over and talk to me like I was his best buddy. 

    A few years later, when I had become a full time employee of the Forest Service, several times he actually came into the Forest Service office looking for me. On one such visit, he came to ask me if I would be a reference for him and write a letter to a court in Alberta saying that “he carried MACE (an aerosol pepper spray) to keep bears away.” I told him I couldn’t do that because I honestly didn’t know he even carried MACE. On another visit, he told me, “You know that fire I was on, that was the second time I have been busted with a helicopter.” 
    As I look back at my expectations of the Greg Fire, I was totally wrong about everything. The only flames I saw were while I was staring into the camp fire. The only axes I handled were the ones I sharpened while sitting in camp.  
    While I might have been initially disappointed that reality of the fire was not the adventure I had expected, in the long view I benefitted far more handling those pencils and pads of paper, than by actually fighting the fire. As it turned out, the Greg Fire was instrumental in leading to a 23 year career, working for the British Columbia Forest Service, which was an unexpected turn in my life.

Look at my paintings:

Tuesday 14 April 2015

My First Forest Fire, Part 2

    My hunger sated, it was now time for some more waiting. Around 2:00 (that's 14:00 Forest Service time), a big farm truck pulled into the parking and I helped the farmer load up the axes, shovels, polaskis (sort of a hoe/axe combination tool), pumps, fuel, tents, lanterns, cooking equipment, utensils, pots, pans, food. sleeping rolls, toilet paper, and chainsaws. You need a lot of stuff to set up a camp and fight a fire. 
    When we had it loaded we did some more waiting until it was time to get the supplies moving down the road to the helicopter pickup site. I grabbed the pack with my gear and the brown envelope with the timekeepers pads and papers, climbed into the passenger seat of the farm truck, and we rolled out of the Forest Service parking lot and headed down Highway 16. 
    It took about an hour to get to the drop-off point. I helped Ray, the farmer unload all of the tools, equipment, and food from the farm truck  and onto a nice pile on the grassy field at Dome Creek. Ray got into the truck and drove away and I did some more waiting, all alone, with all the firefighting supplies. 

    Forty-five minutes later, Alastair arrived in a green Forest Service truck to drop off JJ, Bob,and more supplies.  JJ was a hippie/jack-of-all-trades neighbor of mine, and Bob was a farmer and first aid attendant. I was happy to learn that JJ was going to be the cook. It was reassuring to have someone I knew along on this adventure. We unloaded more supplies from the back of Alastair's truck and he drove away, leaving us to do some more waiting.  
    Finally off in the distance, I heard the whop, whop, whop of the helicopter, just like in the beginning of MASH, the TV show.  It came with a rush from behind the trees, circling us, and then settling down in a flurry of flying dust, twigs, and noise. When it shut down, Grant climbed out, along with Ron and Guy (two local loggers) who were to be the fire bosses. A bus carrying the firefighters arrived about the same time.  It was decided that Grant, along with JJ, Bob, and I, would fly in first, so we could begin to set up the camp. 
    Securely buckled to my the seat, and luckily sitting by the window, we lifted off. My eyes were every where; the scattered farm houses and hayfields shrank as the horizons expanded. There was the Fraser River, now under us, and soon we were moving long the slopes of the snow capped mountains which held the McGregor river.
    “There’s the fire,” I heard Grant say through the earphones, as he pointed out a thin white column of smoke that was twisting up from a ridge. I snapped a picture, even though I didn’t see any raging flames of orange eating its way though the trees. It’s a good thing I took that picture, because it was the only time on this fire fighting adventure that I was to actually see the forest fire. 

    The camp site was a lightly treed open area beside a creek. We cut saplings for tent poles and roped up the canvas tents between the trees. We hung tarps and made tables and cut logs to sit on. As the supplies and the firefighting crew slowly arrived, they began to take over the construction of the camp, and Bob and I concentrated on helping JJ put the kitchen together and prepare the supper.  When JJ finally had the meal ready at 9:30 PM, all of those stories I had heard about eating well in fire camps was confirmed. Tired and hungry, we sat on logs and rocks and ravished the steaks, potatoes, and peas by the dim, flickering light of the lanterns and a campfire. 

    It was when the crew were called to eat and they lined up to fill there plates, that I first noticed Todd. I, having lived on the fringes of hippiedom during the late 60’s and early 70’s, and having always worn my hair longer than the norm, thus suffering the consequences for my appearance, was always drawn to those who might be kindred spirits. 
    Todd had long stingy, dirty, shoulder length, blond hair which rested atop his thin, 6’5” (2m) frame. He wore old jeans with holes in them, an old sweatshirt, and raggedy old running shoes. He looked every bit the stereotyped hippie, and as I was soon to learn, no one I have ever met, came closer to living up to that stereo-type, than “Odd Todd”. 

    After helping with the kitchen clean-up, I did my time-keeper chores. I went through all the names, trying to mentally put a face to them. I recorded the hours everyone had for the day, then repacked all the forms and pencils back into the brown envelope, did up its string-joined tie, walked over to my designated tent, slid into my bedroll, and fell asleep. 
    I was dismayed, upon awakening at 6:00 the next morning, to discover that during the night it had begun to rain, in fact, it had begun to pour. A cool grey dampness hung over the camp. I forced myself from the sleeping bag and blanket and put on my dry, but clammy clothes, and wandered over to the shelter of the tarp that served as the roof to the camp kitchen. JJ was already at work scrambling eggs and frying bacon. 

    The photo above shows First Aid Bob on the left, and JJ on the right cooking up a meal at our fire camp.

    The story continues tomorrow.

Monday 13 April 2015

My First Forest Fire

      Not much of interest is happening around here, so today I thought I would begin telling you a story from my life in the Robson Valley of BC.  

      My life took one of those unexpected turns at 9:30 on a hot and sunny August Saturday morning in 1978. I was an elementary teacher by trade, but since moving to McBride a year earlier, I had been unemployed. McBride is a small rural community of about 600 people, connected to the outside world only by Highway 16 it's 100 miles to Jasper, Alberta if you go east or 135 miles to Prince George, B.C. if you go west. 
    Since I had no permanent job at the time, I was diversifying my employment with a lot of little jobs, I had been a substitute teacher in the community during the school year, but I was finding that summer vacation was a rather slow period for substitute teachers. Joan and I had grown a big Romaine lettuce crop and we were able to sell some of that to the local grocery store.
    With fall on the horizon, there was always firewood to cut, and hay to get.  I don’t remember what I had on the work docket for that Saturday, but what ever it was, it had nothing to do with a forest fire.
    Alastair, who lived a couple of houses down the road worked for the British Columbia Forest Service. In our many visits and discussions, I managed to put the word out that I was available for any kind of work, and it was from Alastair that I received the call--There was a lightning strike and fire up the McGregor River, and they needed fire fighters. Was I willing to come and help?
    “Sure”, I told him “What do I do? 
     “Just bring some boots and gloves and come down to the ranger station as soon as you can”, Alastair  replied. Then added, “You’ll probably be away from home for a few days, and this is a helicopter show, so we will be flying you in.” 
    Wow, a helicopter ride!, Now, I was excited. It was the the mostly pristine mountains that had attracted us to move to the area, and now I was getting a chance to ride in a helicopter and see the mountains from the air. I had never been in a helicopter before, jeez, I had never had to fight a forest fire before. My mind was racing, by this sudden opening of new opportunities. 
    I was a fire fighter; there I stood stoically, axe in my hand, as sparks swirled around me.  I neatly stepped aside to dodge the incendiary branches that dropped from the orange tongues of the flames that leaped from the trees. The heat was intense. I took off my hardhat and wiped the sweat from my ash smeared brow. The fire roared, my 30 seconds of rest was over I must returned to the fight. 
    Back to reality, I told Joan what was happening. I gathered some work clothes, my heavy duty hiking boots, and a pair of work gloves. A camera, I mustn’t forget to take my camera. I was ready. Joan drove me the 6 miles to town and dropped me off at the ranger station. I kissed her good bye and began walking up the sidewalk. I couldn’t help but notice that there was a distinct lack of chaotic rushing around and yelling of orders that I had expected to see at the Forest Service office. It was a quiet sunny morning with no activity at all in sight. 
    I walked up the concrete steps, opened the door and stood by the counter. A man wearing a beige shirt came up to the other side of the counter asked if he could help me, and I replied that I had received a call from  Alastair, and that I was there to help fight the forest fire. The man walked around a wall and called to Alastair who came to the counter and welcomed me, then introduced me as David, his neighbor who was a teacher. He told me to follow him. 
    Alastair led me into a large room in the basement of the office, and handed me a big brown envelope with a string tie and told me that since I was a teacher, I was going to be the “Timekeeper” on the fire. He had me open the envelope and as I took out all of the various pads of forms and cards,   he explained to me what each of them was and what I was to record on them. Alastair introduced me to Grant, who was to be in charge of the fire. I was then left alone to review the various timekeeper pads and forms again and told to make sure that all of the pencils were sharpened. 
    Things seemed to be moving a whole lot slower than I had expected. There was still no other fire fighters that I could see. As I sat in the basement studying the timekeeper’s forms, I was introduced to a couple of other forest service guys and began to pick up a bit more information about the fire and what was going to happen.  
    The fire was caused by a lightning strike, up one of the tributaries of the McGregor River, which was about 50 miles northwest of McBride. There were no roads close to the fire so I was going to accompany a truckload of supplies to Dome Creek, the nearest  community to the fire, where a helicopter would pick me and the supplies up, and fly me in to the camp site. I would be helping set up the camp. The firefighters would not be flown into the camp until the afternoon. 
    More waiting.
    I accompanied Alastair to the grocery store to pick up the food order that they had been filling for the fire camp. I was starving; firefighting is hungry work. I took advantage of being at the grocery to buy myself a chocolate bar to tide me over until I got something more substantial to eat. We drove the groceries back to the office and where I did some more waiting. The guys at the office had some sandwiches brought end and luckily I was a recipient of one of them. 

    I will continue with the excitement on tomorrow’s blog.

To help you kill the time until then, look at my paintings:

Sunday 12 April 2015

The Joy of Perennials

    I really like perennials.  Perennials are plants that you don’t have to plant every year, once they are in the ground, they just come up every year.  I don’t know the name of the flower you see in the photo above, but forty-five years ago, the previous owners of our property, planted them and every year, these small white and blue flowered plants (about 4-5 inches, 10-12cm tall) appear in our lawn early in the spring, before the grass has a chance to grow.
    This year they must have found conditions especially attractive, because they are more prevalent and have spread over a wider area of the yard than in previous years.

See my photo-realistic paintings at:

Saturday 11 April 2015

Reflecting Pond

    Even if it wasn’t such a critical necessity for survival, water would be a valued thing to have around just because it is so beautiful.  It’s reflective quality has been used throughout the ages to enhance surroundings.   I feel so fortunate to have a pond.
    When I built it, I wasn’t thinking of beauty at all, my focus was to create habitat for wildlife, but once it filled with water and the sunlight started sparkling off of the ripples and the sky and mountains started reflecting off of its surface, I was rewarded well beyond the habitat I had created.  While the photo above is not the most impressive account of my pond’s reflective abilities, this morning it was enough to make me lift the camera out of its holder and snap a photo.

Take a look at my paintings:

Friday 10 April 2015

Spring Haircut for Skye

    Sheep are not the only animals that get shorn in the spring, our dog Skye also got clipped.   Skye spent a day at Ann’s Swartz’s dog spa the other day, when Joan and I had to go up to Prince George.  We knew we wouldn’t recognized Skye when we got back, and we didn’t.
    Skye is a lot more comfortable, not so hot when we take a walk in the sun, and at night she is happy to cuddle up and stay on the bed rather than spend the night on the cooler floor.

Look at my paintings:

Thursday 9 April 2015

Mobility Challenged

    Trees don’t have a lot of choices about their location.  Where ever the seed lands is pretty much where they will spend their life.  This small spruce tree’s seed ended up in a flower bed next to our sidewalk.  It was not a good place to be from our point of view, so I decided to give it a second chance.  
    Early spring is a good time to transplant trees, so I dug the spruce up and moved it up to a wooded area near the road and planted it in the ground up there, where hopefully it will take hold and prosper in its new location.

Take a look at my paintings:

Tuesday 7 April 2015


    Several months ago I watched the film, “Philomena”.  Based on a true story, it was about the yearnings of an Irish women who became pregnant while in her teens, back in the 1950’s.  Being unmarried, she was forced into to an institution, for “fallen” women,which was run by nuns.  There she gave birth to a son, who she adored for 3 years in those brief periods when not being forced into near slavery, in the money making laundry run by the Church.
    Then, against her will, the child was then sold in an adoption deal by the Church to a couple in America.  The loss, and longing to be reunited with her son, was kept secret and tore at the heart of Philomena, until very late in life when finally she told the story to her daughter.  The daughter enticed Martin Sixsmith, the author with the story, and in the movie, he and Philomena, fly to America to piece together clues and try to find Philomena’s long lost son.   
    It was a very touching story, that really doesn’t end well, as the son who had risen to a high rank in the Republican party had died a few years earlier of AIDS.  He had spent his whole life trying to find his birth mother, who he vaguely remembered, but was always stonewalled by the Irish nuns at the orphanage.
    I belong to a book club at the McBride Library, and our assignment for April was to read a book and compare it to a movie made of the book.  Books and movies are both things I like to spend time with so I was happy to be given an excuse to indulge in the two.  On the shelf by the door of the library, there were a lot of books and their DVD’s to choose from, and when  I saw the book, “Philomena,” I remembered hearing that it was really different from the film so I chose to read it.
    Sure enough, the book follows a totally different tact than the film.  It starts out with the Philomena giving birth at the orphanage, her love for her young son, and her devastating grief at his removal, but then the rest of the book follows the life of that son, as he is whisked away to a new country, a new family, and growing up in the turbulent last half of the 20th century.  
    He struggles with being raised in the Church, and discovering that he is gay.  He finally accepts his sexuality and secretly lives that lifestyle, while becoming a lawyer, then even though he hates the Republican platform, especially its attitude about homosexuality, he ends up working for GOP, helping them gain power, while rubbing elbows with President Reagan and Bush.  All the while, longing to find his real mother in Ireland, even as he begins dying of AIDS. 
    Reading the book and seeing the film really rounds out the story because you see it from both sides--Philomena, and Mike/Anthony, her son.  I enjoyed the story in both media, although it really bugged me how Philomena continued to be so loyal to the Church after what they had done to her, and how Mike, her son, could work for the Republican Party, while watching their attitude toward gays and their refusal to do anything during the outbreak of AIDS, because it was mostly just killing gays.

You can view my paintings at:

Monday 6 April 2015

Putting the Peas In

    Yesterday, I planted peas in the garden.  Peas are always the first vegetable I plant.  Everyone thinks I am crazy to plant them so early, because we will be getting many more nights of frost, but peas are tough and they like the cold, so I follow the directions that I once read--plant as soon as the soil can be worked.  I save my own peas seed and planted them in two rows, one on each side of the fence I rig up for them to climb on.
    My planting season began earlier than normal this year, generally I plant around the 23rd of April.  It always makes me feel good to have made a start on the garden, even though peas are the only thing I will put in for a couple of weeks.

My paintings can be seen at:

Sunday 5 April 2015

Joan Wins Again

    Poor Joan, it seems that every time some local store has a draw for a prize, she wins.  A month ago she won $50 worth of groceries, then last week she won this coffee maker.   A couple of years ago she took home a giant stuffed Teddy bear, and many years ago it was a mountain bike.  I keep telling her to win the lottery, but so far she hasn’t come up with the winning ticket.

You can see my paintings at:

Saturday 4 April 2015

Wood Chips

    Last fall when the tree trimmer came and topped all of my willows, they ground up all the small and medium-sized branches into wood chips.  They normally just haul the chips to the dump, but that seemed wasteful to me so I said I would take them, and I was left with a big pile in my pasture.  I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with all of the chips, and it is a mighty big pile.
    Lately in the evening I have been wheelbarrowing the chips along the shore of the pond filling up the low spots and muddy sections along our trail.  It’s making our trail look a bit too civilized, but I’ve got a lot of wood chips I am going to have to deal with.

My paintings can be seen at: