Sunday 31 May 2015

Waterlily in Bloom

    The waterlilies in my pond are now in bloom.  The wild waterlilies we have in Interior BC are not as spectacular as some of the domesticated varieties, but they add a bit of color to the pond.  I noticed that there is an insect sitting on the side of this one.  Insects seem to like them, when I did a painting of waterlilies several years ago, I included an insect that was sitting on that waterlily.

You can see my painting "Waterlily" at:

Saturday 30 May 2015

Lupine Path

    Years ago I planted a few Lupine at one end of my pond.  They must have liked the area because their population has since exploded to the point where it is difficult to see the path that runs around the pond.  I really appreciate the fact that I don’t have to do anything to keep them growing, they are happy  do it all themselves.
    Lupines are a glorious plant because it not only has beautiful flowers but interesting starburst shaped leaves.  As a bonus they put nitrogen in the soil.  I was once told by a forester from New Zealand that they planted Lupine in logged out areas so they would provide nutrients in the soil for future trees.
    At present my Lupine are at their prime.

My paintings can be seen at:

Friday 29 May 2015

An Owl, Friends, and a Storm

    Last night was memorable for several reasons.  I was invited over to dinner by friends.  Another couple of friends were also invited and so I got to experience good food, and lively conversations  ranging from dinosaur tracks to McBride politics.  
    Also in the mix was a Great Gray Owl that was hanging around and wasn’t too concerned about people trying to take its picture.  The third part of the entertainment was a developing thunderstorm that we watched from a distance, until it drove us into the house with its furious winds and pelting rain.
    Nature, weather, and friends makes for a memorable evening.

My paintings can be viewed at:

Thursday 28 May 2015

Lady's Slippers, A Bee's Eye View

    I get an immense amount of pleasure walking around the pond early on a spring morning.  At the moment the lupines are blooming with such ferocity that they are crowding out the path.  In the water, the yellow waterlilies are popping up, and along the side of the trail, the Lady’s Slippers are fighting their way through the horsetail rushes.  
    We did finally get a rain shower last night, and droplets of water always enhance a photo, so here are a couple of shots of Lady’s Slippers that I took this morning on my walk.

You can see my paintings at:

Wednesday 27 May 2015

FaceTime Confusion

    If you don’t know, FaceTime is a software program similar to Skype.  It allows you to video phone to anyone with an Apple product like an iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer.  It is handy and useful, but recently I discovered that it can have some downsides if you don’t use it much.  
    Joan is visiting friends in Belgium and so the other day about 11:00 AM my time (8:00 in the evening in Belgium), I tried to give the friends a video call on FaceTime from my computer to see how the visit was going.  FaceTime rang and rang, until I was convinced no one was home in Belgium so I hung up.  FaceTime left a message with my friends that I had tried to unsuccessfully to call.  
    I went on with my day, and sometimes during the day my friends tried to return a FaceTime call to me unsuccessfully.  A FaceTime message was left on all my devices that they had tried to call, but I didn’t use any of my devices until 10:00 at night, when I opened my iPad which immediately informed me that a FaceTime contact had occurred.  I unfortunately touched the message on the iPad, and that immediately dialed up my friends in Belgium, which meant that their iPhone or computer started ringing.  I figured it was the middle of the night there and didn’t want to wake them up, so I immediately pushed the red button to stop the call.  I felt guilty about unintentionally making the call, but no one immediately called back so I figured they slept through it, but it did leave a fresh message on their devices that I had called.
    Last night I was sleeping soundly, when at 1:00 AM, suddenly my iPad started ringing.  I immediately awoke and groped through the mosquito net to see what was going on.  I opened the cover to the iPad (which turns it on), and was immediately blinded by its bright light.  Since I didn’t have my reading glasses on, I couldn’t really read the message, but I touched it and suddenly, I heard people speaking Flemish.  
    It was my friends from Belgium, who evidently had just discovered the FaceTime message that I had tried to contact them, and they had done the same thing I did earlier--had touched the message, thus triggering a return call.  In their confusion, they couldn’t figure out how to stop the call and as a result it kept ringing on my iPad which woke me up in the godawful middle of the night.  When I spoke they apologized profusely, then we all hung up and after an hour of listening to the clock radio I again fell back to sleep.
    Isn’t technology wonderful.

View my paintings:

Tuesday 26 May 2015


    At first glance this photo may appear to be a mountainside covered with trees, but it is a horsetail rush covered side of my dam.  In the early morning after a heavy frost, the backlit horsetails sparkle like they have been covered with diamond dust.  I haven’t been able to get a realistic looking photo, but maybe you can get an idea.
    I knew what horsetails were when I first came to Canada, but only because I had collected fossils of their ancestors back in Indiana.  I had never actually seen a real one before.  When I first saw them as we drove through a deep forest on Vancouver Island, I mistakenly thought they were a thick patch of young trees growing beside the road.  I was quite thrilled (I live at a very low level of excitement) when I discovered they were horsetails, the descendants of my Calamite fossils that grew 350 million years ago.

Look at my paintings:

Monday 25 May 2015

Open Door Policy

    I hinted in previous blogs about how bad the mosquitoes are around our place at the moment.  Well the mosquitoes are not only bad “around” our place, but also “in” our place.  It has gotten so bad inside the house, that I have started sleeping with a mosquito net on my bed.  It only takes one or two of the pests to upset a good nights sleep.
    I point my finger at our dog Skye, and our cat Lucifer, as being accomplices to the problem, because they always leave the door open.
    Both animals know that they can take advantage of our poorly latching carport door and let themselves into the house whenever they like.  Skye takes advantage of this more than the cat, because she seems to like it in the house more than our adventurous cat.  
    I try to get Skye to spend more time outside, so I encourage her to go out with me whenever I go out to do some work, but the moment I turn my back and get busy doing what I was going to do, she opens the door and sneaks back in the house.  She never closes the door behind her, which leaves a gaping hole in the house’s mosquito barrier.  Lucifer does the same thing, but since she is smaller, she doesn’t leave the door as wide open as the dog.
    Sometimes the cat quietly lets herself in and I don’t realize it for a long time, so the mosquitoes have plenty of time and can fly inside at their leisure. 
    I have my fingers crossed that the mosquito season will soon be over.

Take a look at my paintings:

Sunday 24 May 2015

Mosquito Heaven

    I have probably drawn more cartoons about mosquitoes than any other subject.  The reason for that because we live in a wet jungly part of the Robson Valley, and are plagued by the pesky insects every spring, and in some years they can be intolerable even into the summer.  I had high hopes for this year.  All of our snow melted very early, so I was hoping that all the mosquito breeding pools would dry up before it got to warm.  Unfortunately this didn’t happen.  
    Those pools filled up with the snow melt, and then we got lots of rain which kept them topped up.  I had some mosquito larvicide left over from last year.  That is bacteria granules that can be sprinkled into pools of water.  The bacteria gets inside the guts of mosquito larvae and kills it, without harming other creatures.  I spread the larvicide around all the swampy areas until I ran out of the stuff.
    McBride’s hardware store didn’t have any in stock, and so I ordered some, but it was back ordered.  It finally came in a couple of days ago and so I re-visited all the breeding spots I knew, hacking myself through the tangle of vegetation that explodes every spring in our corner of BC.
    I was quite surprised at how much water is still out there in the bush, even though it is very dry. ( I have had to water my garden a couple of times.)  One of the problems around my house is the heavy clay soil.  The water accumulates in the depressions where it can’t drain off, then the clay prevents it from soaking in, so the water just sits there as an invitation to all the mosquitoes, until it eventually evaporates.
    The photo shows one big swampy pool that is a major source of mosquitoes close to our house, but on the neighboring property.
You can view my paintings at:

Saturday 23 May 2015

Guitar Case Cat

    In the evening I didn’t have anything planned.  Since Joan is not around, I decided that I would spend some quality time with my guitar, outside on the lanai.  I have a big amplifier that has been in storage in the garage, and I thought it would probably be a good to blow the cobwebs out of it, instead of once again playing my little amp which I use weekly at our jam.
    I lugged the big amp out of the shop then went to the house and brought my guitar out.  I laid the guitar case across the arms of a lawn chair, opened it up, plugged my guitar into the big amp and began to play.  I started through my old electric guitar repertoire, trying to remember songs by the Byrds, Beatles, Neil Young, Cream, James Taylor, and Tom Petty.  I spent an enjoyable hour playing, totally engulfed by the music.
    Skye, our dog was sitting patiently beside the lanai, occasionally looking up wondering when I would quit and fill her bowl of dog food.  I finally took sympathy on her, and turned around to put my guitar back in its case, and was surprised to see Lucifer our cat, comfortably and contently sitting in the plush velvet of the guitar case.  I hadn’t noticed her at all as I was playing, and was somewhat gratified that she didn’t mind my thrashing about on my electric guitar.

My photo-realistic paintings can be seen at:

Friday 22 May 2015


    We have Forget-me-nots growing all over our lawn.  Because I like them, I mow around them rather than over them, leaving them to mature and re-seed.  These Forget-me-nots escaped from my neighbor’s property.  They aren’t native, she planted them, but they seem to like the neighborhood and have spread.  
    Forget-me-nots have tiny blue, and sometimes the odd pinkish flowers.  The diameter of the flowers are about .8 cm (1/4 of an inch).  The beautiful blue hue of the petals are accented with a yellow or white doughnut in the middle.  A patch of Forget-me-nots give a nice blue blush when seen from a distance.

My paintings can be seen at:

Thursday 21 May 2015

Waterlily Leaf

    Here is a photo I took of one of the waterlily leaves growing in my pond.  I really like all of the silvery reflections on the surface of the water, especially on the tongue of water licking the leaf.

Take a look at my paintings:

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Lupine Heads

    The Lupines that grow in a patch beside the pond are maturing toward blooming.  While the long clusters of flowers are quite spectacular and beautiful, I have lately been attracted to the developing young heads that are now just beginning to show hints of the color that their flowers will possess.  Here are a few examples.

I did a painting of a Lupine:

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Bog Arum

    Bog Arum (or Marsh Calla, Wild Calla or Water-arum) is a native aquatic plant in BC that grows around the edges of my pond.  Every spring when it blooms I can’t resist taking photos of it.  It consists of a simple white “petal” and a very intricately complex inflorescence, the stem-like cluster of flowers in the middle.  When it matures the green bits in the middle become red berries that contain the seeds.
    Once I got this photo onto the big screen of my computer, I was surprised to see that there was an interesting small wiry insect with big dark eyes standing on the lower left section of the white “petal.”

My paintings can be viewed at:

Monday 18 May 2015

Helicopter Mystery Solved

    Do you remember my puzzlement over seeing a helicopter flying over hauling a tree?  Well, yesterday I found out what was going on.  
    One of the nice things about living in a small town, like McBride, is that if something happens, you eventually hear about it.  This happened to a Norma, a friend of mine, who had read my blog, and then one day when she was in the post office she heard a conversation about the helicopter.  She joined in and got an explanation which she passed on to me.  Here is the story.
    As I have mentioned in previous blogs, the mountains that surround the Robson Valley are a very popular destination for snowmobilers.   Sometimes the snowmobiles break down way out in the middle of the mountains, or the snowmobilers go into areas where they can’t get out of with their machines.  Last winter, for whatever reason, a snowmobiler had to abandon his machine out in the middle of nowhere.  He decided to wait until spring to have it retrieved by a helicopter.
    The helicopter flew him out to get the snowmobile, but when they found it, they discovered that other snowmobilers had stripped it of most of its key parts.  I guess there wasn’t a whole lot left of it, but there were a few bits that the owner decided he wanted, so they gathered up those parts and were going to fly them out.
    The parts that the owner wanted to keep, didn’t weigh very much and if they hung it beneath the chopper, there was a possibility that it may get blown up into the rotors, so someone got the idea that if they hung something heavy, like a tree, below the collection of parts it would prevent the load from getting blown upwards.
    So there you go, like the old radio broadcaster Paul Harvey always said, “Now you know the rest of the story.”

You can see my paintings at:

Sunday 17 May 2015

Island Turned-Turtle

    Yesterday when Skye and I walked down to the pond I noticed something in the water.  From a distance it seemed big and brown and my first thought was that it was a moose, but as we approached I saw that it was one the duck islands I had made that had flipped upside down.  That seemed really strange.  We did have strong winds yesterday, but I didn’t think they were so strong that they would have  overturned the island.
    This morning I decided to deal with the overturned island.  It was a coolish and not very attractive day, but I figured the water was going to be cold anyway, so I decided to do it.  I got all of my water-gear out of the shop (partial wetsuit, shoes, and gloves)  I usually wear a pair of pantyhose, but couldn’t find them, so I substituted a pair of long johns.
    You might wonder why I was wearing all this stuff just to go into the pond, but in the past I have come out of the pond with leeches and swimmer’s itch all down my legs--not a pleasant experience, so I wear the layer of clothing as a preventative.   Once I had all my water clothes on I walked down to the pond.
    The water wasn’t as cold as I had expected, but the bottom of the pond was incredibly mucky, I sank about 8 inches (20 cm) into the mire with every step I took.  By standing on the submerged edge of the  island and using my weight to pull the other end toward me, I was able to right the structure.
    When I got it right side up I could see why the island had turned over.  There had been sapling trees growing on the island and some of them had gotten so tall the wind easily pushed them over.  I got a pair of wood clippers and cut all the trees and bushes back to lower the center of gravity.  One piece of tree I cut off was 12 ft (4 m.) long.  I hadn’t noticed that the trees on the little island had grown so tall.
    When I got back to the carport I stripped off all of the wet clothes and took a nice warm shower.  I never know what kind of adventures will happen next around here.

When I am not fixing islands I paint:

Saturday 16 May 2015

Preventing Waste

    As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, Joan has scampered off to Europe, and when she departed she left many unused items in the refrigerator.  One of those items was a carton of buttermilk which she had bought for one of her cooking creations.
    I hate to see things going to waste, and since buttermilk pie is one of my favorite desserts, I decided to utilize the buttermilk and make myself a pie.  In Joan’s absence, I thought I would cut back on my caloric intake, and exist on a more spartan diet, but I couldn’t just let that buttermilk spoil, so I made the the pie.  Now, having made it, I don’t want it to go to waste, so I guess I will be forced to eat the whole thing myself. 
    Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet (or in this case, pie) and soldier on.

I don't only eat pie, I also paint:

Friday 15 May 2015

Joan's Garden Box

    Because of a fungus which has contaminated our garden, we can’t grow garlic and onions, which are both mainstays in our diet.  Fortunately our friends the Milnes generously allow us to grow garlic in their garden.  This year Joan decided to take advantage of McBride’s Community garden to grow some onions, at least that was the initial plan.
    Once she got the box of course, she couldn’t help but strive for something a little more creative than just growing onions.  She ordered a triangular shaped trellis which she thought would look good with some sweet peas and morning glories growing on it.  
    She had scheduled a trip to Europe to visit with friends, and to join my sister Nancy Marchant, the famous knitter (Google her), who is giving a workshop in Berlin.  The trip kind of came up on Joan in a hurry, so she had to scramble to get her garden box organized and planted.  She got everything into the ground and took off, and now I am saddled with the responsibility of keeping everything alive until her return.
    I must say that the trellis does give a dramatic impression to Joan’s garden box, and I hope that it will look even more impressive once the plants begin to twine upward and bloom. 

My paintings:

Thursday 14 May 2015

A Great Egret

    Yesterday I blogged about seeing grizzly bears and today I a have another rare sight--a Great Egret.  At Tuesday night’s jam session, Elsie Stanley, an avid birder, mentioned that there had been a Great Egret spotted down at Horseshoe Lake.
    I had to go into McBride yesterday afternoon, so decided to make a short detour over to Horseshoe Lake to see if I could see it.  There it was sitting on a raft and was pretty easy to identify. It’s an unlikely surprise to see an Egret in the Interior of BC, the first time I ever saw one was down in Mexico.  The map in my bird book shows them in warmer climes like California and Oregon.

You can look at my paintings at:

Wednesday 13 May 2015


    We make the drive up Hwy. 16 to Prince George, BC about once every 3 weeks.  The drive takes about 2.5 hours.  Almost the entire drive is through forested areas, which can be rather boring, so we are always happy to see wildlife.  Deer, Black bear, and moose are fairly common sights.
    Yesterday we made the drive to Prince to take Joan to the airport and on our trip we saw something spectacular along the side of the road--Grizzly bears.  Black bears can generally be seen grazing along the margins of the highway during the spring and summer, but grizzlies are a rare sight.  Yesterday this mother bear and her yearling were grazing and playing (note the love bite) and didn’t seem to be too concerned about the three vehicles that had stopped to watch.  
    While grizzlies do live around here, they generally hangout deeper in the bush.  I have seen grizzly bears in the wild only a handful of times during my 40 years in Canada, so seeing these two yesterday was a memorable treat. 

Check out my paintings:

Monday 11 May 2015

Acres of Dandelions

    The yards and fields of the Robson Valley are yellow with dandelions this time of year.  Yesterday I thought I would take advantage of their color and take some photos.  I know that dandelions are a hated plants to those who are fanatical about their lawns, but both domesticated and wild animals like to eat them and at this stage of their life, I think they are attractive.

See my paintings at:

Sunday 10 May 2015

Dahlias: Ugly Ducklings

    I dug in the Dahlia bulbs yesterday.  They are an ugly tangle of tubers and roots, and to look at them you would never imagine what beautiful flowers they turn into.  Our Dahlia tubers were getting so big (some the size of a volleyball) that I cut many of them in half last fall when I dug them up.  (Up here in the Interior of BC we have to dig them up and store them over winter.)   I usually dig them when I dig the potatoes and store them with the potatoes in the crawl space under the house, where it doesn’t freeze.
    Anyway I planted all of the tubers we saved, plus a bag of new ones that we bought.  The photo below shows a row of the big ones.  I also made a row of middle-size ones, and individual carrot-sized tubers that had broken off.   At the very bottom you can see a closeup photo of one of the spectacular blooms these ugly tubers produce.

Take a look at my paintings:

Saturday 9 May 2015

Riverside Kiosk

    The other day when I was walking Skye at Koeneman Park, I glanced across the Fraser River to the park on the other side and thought it might make a colorful photo.  The sunlit foliage on the Aspen and Cottonwood trees was a brilliant shade of light green which contrasted nicely with the blue mountains that were about to receive some rain from the moody clouds.

You can view my paintings at:

Friday 8 May 2015

Salamander Eggs

   In the photo they look very similar to pearls, but I am fairly sure they are salamander eggs.  We have a small pool of water beside our back deck that used to be a gold fish pond.  We no longer have gold fish, but the pool is still there and every year I usually find a salamander or two in it.  
    About a week ago I saw some mosquito larvae wriggling around in the pool and put some biological larvicide into the water which gets bacteria into their gut and kills them.  It isn’t supposed to harm other aquatic creatures, but I am never too sure.  It was good then to see that there must still be salamanders living in the water and laying eggs.  They usually attach the eggs to sticks  and twigs.  
    The salamanders we have in the Robson Valley are fairly small and only get to be about 3 inches
(7.5 cm) in length.  Below is an old photo I took of one.

Look at my paintings:

Thursday 7 May 2015

What's that Smell?

    I have been wanting to buy some Epson Salt to use in my greenhouse and garden.  It adds magnesium to the soil which helps tomatoes, peppers, and roses.  I think Epson Salt is mostly used for soaking feet, so I wasn’t sure if I could find any in little McBride, not knowing how many local people want to soak their feet.  I checked in the grocery store’s small section of medications, but they didn’t have any.  There is a very small pharmacy in the hospital and luckily I found a bag there.
    Yesterday I was out in the greenhouse and started to mix up a solution of Epson Salt in my sprinkling can (1 tablespoon/gallon).   As I was working my nose caught the scent of a strange perfumy odor.  I couldn’t figure out what it was, I thought maybe some plant Joan had started in the greenhouse was causing the smell.
    I continued mixing and watering the tomatoes and peppers, and the smell just got stronger and stronger.  I found it sickly sweet.  Then as I continued making my brew, I happened to glance down at the plastic bag of Epson Salts and there in big letters it said, “Lavender Scented.”   It was the Epson Salts that were stinking up the greenhouse.
    I could see no reason for adding smell of Epson Salts, but Joan figured that maybe it might appeal to some old women who soak there feet.
    So if you happen to go into my greenhouse and notice a perfumy lavender smell, now you know why.

My paintings can be seen at:

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Frog Eyes

    Can you see the frog’s eyes sticking out and looking at you?  
    I mentioned in an earlier blog that our dog Skye has a favorite spot along the shore of the pond where he always stops to take a drink.  On several successive days now as he approaches that spot I have seen movement in the water as he closes in.  It seems that this particular location has also become a favorite of a frog.
    I am always happy to see a frog around the pond.  It is not something that is really a common sight when we walk around the pond.  I take special pride in the frogs, because there were no frogs at all on our property before I built the pond.  I had to go out and catch some at other local lakes then bring them back in hopes to get them started in my pond.  Its gratifying to see that they have survived and propagated.  

If you have time, take a look at my paintings:

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Rain, Showers, Rain. Showers

    It seems the weather in the Robson Valley is on “Repeat.”  Since our mild weather came about a month early, I was hoping that all the standing water from the snow melt would disappear before the mosquitoes became active, but I hadn’t suspected all this precipitation.  The pools of water hidden around in the bush haven’t dried up, and now the mosquitoes are a month early and you can see the mosquito larvae wiggling around in the water.
    I have emptied my can of biological larvicide in many of the pools, and the hardware store can’t get any more until the end of May.  It kills the mosquito larvae without harming other aquatic creatures.
    Many of the paths and trails that we use are as muddy as I have ever seen them.  Mud is starting to squish though the wood chips that I put down to prevent walking in the mud.  The forecast does show a stretch of sunny dry weather up ahead.  I have my fingers crossed.

Take a look at my paintings:

Monday 4 May 2015

Run, Skye, Run

    Here is a photo I took the other day on our morning walk.  Not only do I like the subjects, but the back-lighting gives a nice effect.

Take a look at my paintings:

Sunday 3 May 2015

Two Songs

    Yesterday during the walk Joan, Skye, and I were doing at the McBride airfield, two songs kept jumping into my head.  One was from James Taylor’s song “Sweet Baby James” where he sings, “deep greens and blues are the colors I choose.”   I was attracted to those lyrics the first time I heard the song because those are also the colors I choose.  
    The other song I thought of was Hank Snow’s “Blue Canadian Rockies.”  Looking at the mountains that surround the Robson Valley it was obvious why that might have jumped into my mind.   Maybe the United States has “purple mountain majesty” but up here in Canada our mountains are usually blue.  
    Spring is always a beautiful time of year because of the colors.   The mountains are deep blue, with a brilliant white topping of snow, and as the deciduous trees begin to leaf out, they provide a beautiful light green accent to the landscape.

Take a look at my paintings:

Saturday 2 May 2015

But What is it Carrying?

    The other day we were outside when we heard the “chop, chop, chop” of a helicopter from over the mountain.  We are always curious about helicopters flying around so we waited until it cleared the peak so we could see it.  Then we got even more curious.
    We could see that it was long-lining something, but we could tell what it was.  We have watched them hauling snowmobiles, fire fighting water buckets, and slings full of supplies, but this didn’t look like any of those things.  It was too far away to tell what it was, so I ran inside to get my camera and zoomed into the helicopter and its cargo.  (Often if I take a zoom photo then enlarge it on the computer it gives me a clearer picture.)
    When I downloaded the photo onto my computer and enlarged it, sure enough, I could see what the object was--a tree.  This didn’t solve my curiosity, but intensified it.   Why was the helicopter towing a tree?
    I have no answers, maybe preparing for a late (or early) Christmas?  Surely a tree could be found closer and cheaper than paying big bucks/hour for a helicopter.  Tis a mystery.

Check out my paintings:

Friday 1 May 2015

Uncurling Ferns

    In yesterday’s blog I featured some hostas unrolling, and today I have another of my favorite plants--ferns, uncurling.  I love to come upon ferns as their “fiddleheads” are in the process of unwinding.

See my paintings: