Tuesday 28 July 2015

Evening Grosbeaks

    The Evening Grosbeaks seem to have made a recovery around here.  In our early days living in the Robson Valley we used to see them periodically, then for about 10 years we didn’t see them at all.  Now I am seeing and hearing their loud chirp more than ever.  I couple of years ago I heard reports that their populations had drastically crashed, so its good to see them back.
    Grosbeaks sort of remind me of parrots, with their brilliant colors and huge beak.  The big beak is used to pry open seeds, and they seem to have no trouble here at my bird feeder getting their fill of sunflower seeds.  
    I read that in the early 1900’s Evening Grosbeaks were only found in the conifers of Northern Canada, but then began spreading southward and now there are populations in most states in the US.

Look at my paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Monday 27 July 2015

Robson Slide Chute

    Yesterday I finished this painting of Mt. Robson.  It is hard to be a painter in the Robson Valley and not do at least one painting of the most prominent mountain in the area.  This was a bit of a challenge for me since I decided to do the painting using a palette knife rather than a brush.  As a painter, I am a bit of a control freak, and using a knife instead of a brush was frustrating because of the lack of control it gave me in doing detail.
    I was amazed though at how quickly I was able to complete the painting.  This was due to the fact that using the knife was a whole lot quicker, particularly on the many squares that consisted of only  only one solid color.  I did use a whole lot more paint using the palette knife than I would have with a brush, because it was so easy to slab it on with the knife.
    The painting took me 92 hours to complete.  I started it on May 13th, 2015.  The size of the painting is 24” x 30” (60cm x 76cm) and is done in acrylics.

You can see all of my paintings at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Sunday 26 July 2015

Cartoon: Fire Lookout

    I had this cartoon in the newspaper the other day.  While locally the rains have come and the fire hazard is low, many places in BC are still in danger.
    I created this cartoon back in the 1990’s while I was working for the BC Forest Service.  We did have a lightning strike very close to Shere Lookout, where a lookout man was stationed at the time.  There was no harm done, but it gave me the idea for the cartoon.

You can view my paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Saturday 25 July 2015

Willows Thriving After Topping

    I was a bit worried last fall after we topped our big willow trees.  I had to do something since their big branches were leaning precariously over our house.  I didn’t want to chop them down because we liked the shade, so I just had some tree trimmers come in and I had them topped.  Topping is a terrible thing health-wise to do to a tree, but at least they would continue to live.
    I was nervous about what they would end up looking like once they began to regrow.  I figured it would take a couple of years for them to look presentable again, but they regrew foliage like crazy this summer and the two photos show the progress.

You can see my paintings at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Friday 24 July 2015

Canada Thistles

    Here I am trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  I detest thistles.  They are thorny invasive pest plants (despite the name, they are not native to Canada).  They are scattered throughout my pasture even though I conscientiously cut them down every year so they won’t go to seed.  I am beginning to think that one of the reasons Skye doesn’t like to walk around the pond any more is because I mowed the path which cause the thistles to grow short and spiky.  She steps on them then limps around.
    Anyway, the other day while walking through a neighbor’s field I was desperately looking around for something to photograph and sadly all I found was this plant I despise.  

My paintings are at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Thursday 23 July 2015

No Place For Joan

    Joan is recouping from her hip replacement operation, and she is pretty restricted as to where she can go.  She can sit in this high lawn chair we set up in the living room, or she can lie down in bed.      
    Yesterday after eating her lunch in the padded lawn chair, she got up and walked with her crutches into the kitchen.  When she returned she was surprised to find that Lucifer had decided to try out the pillowed lawn chair.  Joan being very soft-hearted toward our pets, didn’t want to disturb the cat, so she turned and crutched her way to the bed room.  There she was dismayed to discover that Skye had taken up residence there.

My paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Wednesday 22 July 2015


    While huge chunks of BC are suffering through the worst drought conditions on record, with water restrictions in effect for usually wet Vancouver, and other parts of the province going up in smoke as forest fires rip though the countryside, over the last couple of days the Robson Valley has been experiencing monsoon-like precipitation.  The violent thunderstorms and furious rainfalls that we are getting seem more tropical and intense than our usual gentle showers.  
    The booming and loud cracking of lightning sent our dog and cat scurrying chaotically around the inside the house looking for someplace to hide.  Joan and I watched the downpour in disbelief then marveled 30 minutes later when the rain was replaced with blue skies and sunshine.  It has been quite a mix of weather.
    The photo below is the water shooting from our downspout during the deluge which cause the angled piece at the bottom to come off.

My paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Streaming Music

    Music streaming on the internet has been around for years, but I never did try it on Spotify or other streaming services, then Apple announced its Apple Music with a free three month tryout, and I couldn’t resist.  I have been in the Apple camp since we bought our first computer, and so it didn’t take much to push me into the tryout.
    Wow, I like it.  
    Having passionately followed music since my adolescence, and always felt financially restricted because of my income and the high cost of albums (real vinyl albums, remember them), and later cassettes, and CD’s.   I always had to pick carefully what music I wanted to buy.  There were many  albums I was tempted with, but could never justify my curiosity enough to lay out the money.  
    Now with these streaming services those restrictions no longer effect me.  The Apple Music service will cost $10/month once they start charging.  I can rationalize that, when I consider that to buy one  digital copy of one album would cost me at least $10.  With the streaming, I can listen to any album I want, as many times as I want without limit.  It is an amazing thing considering just how much music iTunes has out there.
    I have have been using it for a few weeks, and have really enjoyed the expanse of music now open to me.  I listened to old favorites I hadn’t heard for 40-50 years (The Left Banke was one group I enjoyed rediscovering).  I have ventured into groups I have always wondered about (I really like Crazy Horse, (without Neil Young), and I enjoyed dipping deeper into the Black Keys)  
    Apple has created programmed playlists which combines related music.  In a playlist called “Sad Bluegrass Songs” I discovered an extremely sappy song called, “Put My Little Shoes Away”  which was written way back in the 1870’s but done up by someone called Chris Brashear.  The lyrics are about a little dying boy who tells his mother to save the shoes he got from Santa for his little brother, but I got really hooked on the melody and arrangement and have taken the song to our jam session.
    Who knows where all this musical freedom will take me, but given the immense scope of how much music is now available to me, I will happily pay the monthly fee.

Visit www.davidmarchant.ca to see my paintings.

Monday 20 July 2015

Hawaiian Light

    I woke up to a thunder storm and heavy rain this morning.  It soon stopped, but the dark broken clouds remained.  As we ate breakfast I noticed that sunlight was splashing itself across the Cariboo Mountains against the heavy grey sky and I rushed outside with my camera.  This kind of lighting changes quickly.
    Whenever I see these partially illuminated peaks against the dark clouded sky, I think about Hawaii.  In 1969, I took Peace Corp training on the Big Island.  It was an eye-opening experience for a kid from Indiana.  I think Hawaii’s moody skies, lush green terrain, and brilliant colors had a profound effect on me and the direction of my life.  It was there that I first saw this kind of color and lighting on mountainous terrain.
    It is nice, living in BC to be periodically reminded of those Hawaiian influences. 

You can view my paintings at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Sunday 19 July 2015

Rainbow Falls Postcard

    There are actually two falls on Rainbow Creek.  It was tthe really big one that I blogged about a couple of days ago, but there is also this smaller one (photo above) where the water only falls about 10-12 feet (3-4m).  When you walk up the trail, you come to the small one first.
    When we moved to McBride we were excited about everything around us in the Robson Valley.  In town at one of the few stores, they had a handful of postcards showing local scenes.  One featured Main Street which was of interest to us because McBride was so small that we could identify some of the vehicles shown in the photo, parked along Main, because they were owned by people we knew.  The other postcard that I remember was entitled “Rainbow Falls”.  I remember it because it showed the wrong falls, the small one, not the big actual Rainbow Falls.  
    This is what I assume happened:
    I suspect some photographer who was producing postcards, was touring around BC stopping in at various towns, asking about local landmarks.  He drove into McBride and asked around and someone told him about Rainbow Falls and told him how to get there.  He found the parking area, hiked up the trail and got to the small falls where he took the photo, then turned around and drove on to the next town, not knowing that he missed the main event.  That is why the wrong falls was on the postcard.

If you would like to see my paintings, go to:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Saturday 18 July 2015

Exciting Day for the Swallows

    For the last few weeks, every time I walk from the carport toward the garden, I have heard the chirping of baby swallows coming from their bird house under the eaves, and I watched as the parents scrambled back and forth capturing food and bringing it back to fill the hungry protesting mouths of their young family.  Yesterday when I walked from the carport things were different.  I could still hear the chirping, but now it was emanating  from all directions instead of just from the birdhouse--the baby swallows had fledged.
    I spotted a couple of the fledglings on the clothes line, others on the rim of the gutter, and another on a branch.  It was an exciting day for both the young birds and their parents.  The photo above shows a young swallow and its mother on the clothes line.  Surprisingly, the bigger bird on the left is the baby and the smaller bird is the parent.
    Below is a photo of one of the young, who had not yet made the leap, still in the birdhouse.  The swallows were always making nests under the eaves of the house, so I built some birdhouses and put them up there and that is what they now use.

You can see my paintings at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Friday 17 July 2015

Rainbow Falls Canyon

    Rainbow Falls drops into a canyon or bowl.  To be able to see it, you first have to climb up a slope then down into the bowl.  The undeveloped trail down, is steep and a bit treacherous, but there are rocks, trees, and even a rope someone strung up, that you can cling to.  Once you are in the canyon, you are in totally different ecosystem than what you find on the rest of McBride Peak.   The spray from the falls and the darkness of the canyon create moss and cedar habitat, similar to what you find in the Robson Valley’s West Twin Old Growth Area or the Ancient Forest.
    Because Rainbow Falls is undeveloped, there is a lot of deadfall that you need to climb over in order to get a good view of the falls.  Being down in the bowl is interesting not because of the soaring water that shoot over the rocky cliff, but also for the little pocket of primal forest that surrounds you.  Here are some photos.

You can see my paintings at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Thursday 16 July 2015

Rainbow Falls

    Yesterday I was feeling pretty housebound and in need a bit of out-of-doors stimulation.  I had an hour or so that I could get away, so I decided to go to Rainbow Falls.  This falls is less than 5 miles (3 km) from our house, but I haven’t been there for about 20 years.  Unfortunately I have never been able to do it justice on a photograph, because you really can’t get the scale of the thing.  (The big rock at the bottom of the photo is larger than a garden shed.)
    Joan and I first visited the falls way back in the late 70’s shortly after moving to McBride.  I was surprised that something this spectacular wasn’t a state or provincial park.  It was just a waterfall out in the bush that the locals visited.  I later learned that it was on private land, but the well-worn trail to the falls show that it is still a popular place to explore.
    Rainbow Falls is just off the McBride Peak Road at the first, where it begins to climb up the slope.  There is a trail.  

Visit www.davidmarchant.ca to view my paintings.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Snake in the Greenhouse

    I have a snake living in my greenhouse.  The word “snake” is a really loaded one.  It conjures up all kind of scary things to the unconscious mind, but the snake I have in my greenhouse is not a threat.  It is a Red-sided Garter Snake.  Here in the Central Interior of BC we have no poisonous snakes, just these garter snakes that don’t get very big;  this one was 15” (38cm) long, and are harmless. 
    I first saw it the other day as I was making my way through the tomato plants.  Snakes are alway a shock when you don’t expect them, so for the first nanosecond I felt panic, but quickly realized it was harmless and watched as it quickly slithered away.  Then a couple of days later I saw it again.  I have now seen it three times.  On several occasions I have gone out the greenhouse with my camera to get a picture, but of course, the snake was nowhere to be seen.  The photo above is of a garter snake that I saw back in 2012 on an old logging road.
    I am happy to have the snake in the greenhouse.  They eat slugs and insects, so it is doing me a favor and I hope it sticks around.

View my paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Tuesday 14 July 2015

A Rose

    I don’t have much to say today, but here is one of Joan’s roses that caught my eye the other day.  It was the curl of the wilting white petal that drew my attention.  Joan is rather house-bound as she recovers from her hip surgery, so this gives her a chance to see it.

Check out my paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Monday 13 July 2015

Pond Path

    I have mentioned before just how much of a lush jungle the Robson Valley turns into during the summer.  I was reminded of this again the other day on one of the walks Skye and I took around the pond.  Here are photos.

I you have time, look at my paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Sunday 12 July 2015

A Change in the Weather

    I gave a big sigh of relief this morning when I woke up and heard the patter of raindrops on our metal roof.  The forecast says more is coming.  I am usually a sunshine person, and grey skies often get me down, but after the hot dry weather and forest fires popping up all over BC, I was happy to accept the dull overcast skies since they were bringing the rain.
    Fortunately we have lots of water, so our garden didn’t suffer as much as some in the Robson Valley, but it is always a lot easier if nature does the work for us.  I have already harvested a lot of peas and strawberries.  The lettuce, which didn’t like the hot weather, has bolted. I have eaten some cherry tomatoes in the greenhouse and I see one of the bigger tomatoes is starting to turn.  The corn and beans thrived in the heat and are well on their way.
    The biggest relief is that we got the rain without lightning, so the uneasiness I felt about the possibility of forest fires has greatly lessened.

You can view my paintings at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Saturday 11 July 2015

The Smoke Finally Comes

    It seems that the Robson Valley always fills up with the smoke no matter how far away the forest fire is.  It could be burning in the Yukon, or even somewhere in the States, and the high hazy smoke finds us.  For a month now BC has been on fire, over 200 are burning at present.  There are so many fires that BC has started to bring in firefighters from as far away as Ontario, Australia, and New Zealand.  Even wet areas that never get forest fires are burning.  News reports from Vancouver and Victoria tell about all the smoke that is in the air, and all the while our skies have been relatively clear.
    Yesterday that all changed, the sun now has an orangish tint and the mountains are now obscured.  I am not sure where this smoke is coming from, there are a lot of possibilities.  There are fires north, south, southeast, and northwest of us, but all around 40-50 miles away.  
    All those years working for the BC Forest Service has made me pretty nervous about hot dry weather.  Luckily, so far, the Robson Valley has been spared (there is a fire in Mt. Robson Park).  It looks like the weather is changing and may bring us some showers, but with that is the possibility of lightning, I hope we continue to dodge the bullet.

My paintings can be seen at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Friday 10 July 2015

Non-Sleeping Brain

    Yesterday it was hot and sunny and I did the laundry.  To dry it I hung it out on the clothes line.  Our clothes line goes out above our garden (See the yellow wires in the photo).  When the hungry deer around here forced me to build a  protective fence around the garden I was confronted with a problem because of the location of the clothes line.  I left a gap where the clothes line went and made a removable section that I could take off whenever we hung clothes (The highest horizontal board and the green board).
    In the evening, I took down the dry clothes and brought them into the house and proceeded with my evening activities.  I went to bed and was asleep.  
    I awoke suddenly at 4:30 realizing that I failed to shut the clothes line gap in the fence.  I got up hoping the deer hadn’t found the opening (they hadn’t), when outside and shut it.  Then went back to bed.
    I think it is pretty amazing that my subconscious brain grinding away with all kinds of information figured it out that I forgot to close the gap when I took down the clothes, then woke me up to let me do it.

You can view my paintings at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Thursday 9 July 2015

Safety Barrier

    While driving up the winding rough road to McBride Peak the other day, I came to this spot where the road edges along a very steep drop off.  I noticed that someone had placed some rocks along the road’s edge as a safety barrier.
    Unfortunately it is difficult to tell from this photo just how small and insignificant this “barrier” is.  The smooth, light colored area that runs diagonally across the left side of the picture is the vehicle’s passenger side tire track, and the rocks that make up the barrier are only 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm) high, so the safety it provides is more psychological rather than real.
    Driving up McBride Peak is always an adventure.

I paint.  See my works at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Twelve String

    Last week when we were in Prince George for Joan to get her hip replaced, I found myself with time to kill.  I made the mistake of thinking, “Well, I could just go into a music store and play around on the instruments for an hour.”
    First I tried out some mandolins.  I didn’t really need a mandolin since I have one that is perfectly fine.  The ones I tried, although more expensive, didn’t sound any better than the old cheap one I had so I started looking around at the other instruments, and saw a 12 string guitar.  For those that don’t know, a 12 string has double strings, eight of them are the same strings as on a 6, but 4 of them are tuned an octave higher.
    In my youth when I got interested in playing music, I started with a banjo, but my first guitar was a 12 string.  It was way back in the Folk Music era.  Everyone had a regular 6 string guitar, and I always liked to be a bit different, and I was taken by the fuller, jingle-jangle sound that a 12 string made, so when I had saved up enough money, I that is what I bought.
    From Folk Music, my tastes went to Folk Rock, and particularly the music of The Byrds, whose sound was built around the Roger McGuinn’s electric 12 string.  I decided I too would to go electric and bought a pick-up for my acoustic 12 string, and joined a band that did Byrds, Beatles, and Buffalo Springfield songs, I eventually saved up enough money and bought myself an electric 12 string guitar.
    After the band broke up and time passed, I sold off my electric and acoustic 12 string guitars and settled down and bought myself a classical type guitar with 6 nylon strings.  I wasn’t playing classical guitar music, still the same folk and rock songs, but it was easy to chord the nylon strings.
    During the 2 years I worked at a Goodwill Store in Indianapolis as a Conscientious Objector, I was lucky one day to discover an old Gretch acoustic 6 string (Burl Ives model) that had been donated.  I bought it, fixed it up, and it has been my guitar for 40 years.
    It now has an acoustic partner because I ended up buying myself a 12 string at the music store last week.  It was moderately priced, easy to play, and really rings.  Its so nice to re-try to all those 12 string tricks I learned so long ago and play those old Byrd and folk songs again with all 12 strings chiming away.  

Look at my paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Frantic Feeder

    I don’t know if the hummingbirds have fledged or not, but there sure seemed to be a lot of chaotic activity around the hummingbird feeder yesterday as the tiny birds darted in, chased each other, and scrambled and hovered around.  To add to the confusion, a bee was trying to claim some territory around the sugary liquid, so not only did the birds have to keep an eye on each other they had do watch out for the bee.

My paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Monday 6 July 2015

Piebald Mountainscape

    The term “piebald” generally refers to horses; those that have irregular patches of two colors, typically black and white.  However, piebald was the term that came to mind last week when I was overlooking the slopes and valleys on McBride Peak.  As you can see there was still quite a bit of snow left which created a “piebald” pattern across the landscape.

Take a look at my paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Sunday 5 July 2015

Ahh, A Return to Normalcy

    Its been a hard couple of days for our spoiled and pampered pets.  I was in Prince George for a couple of days to be with Joan as she got her hip replacement.  This meant a big upset in the lives of Lucifer our cat, and Skye our dog.  
    Skye who is a rescued dog and who still feels the trauma of her past, had to stay at the pet hostel for a couple of nights.   Although she has been at the hostel many times during the day, and receives special treatment, she is always scared at the barking dogs when we arrive and I have to carry her into the building because she refuses to leave the car.  This is the first time when she has had to stay overnight.  It is always just as hard for Joan and I who worry so much about her wounded psyche.
    Lucifer always just stays in our house.  One thing good about her is when she is outside exploring, she always comes promptly when we call.  She was out enjoying some last minutes of outside time on Thursday afternoon when we were ready for our trip to Prince.  We called her... called her again.... and again.  She was nowhere to be seen.  We called and called, putting off our trip for over an hour trying to get her to come--she didn’t.
    Finally we accepted that we had to leave and so I put her food, water, and litter box up on the balcony.  It is a place she always goes when she can’t get into the house.  We finally got in our car and drove away, hoping that she was alright and would find her way to the balcony and safely spend her nights there.
    Up in a Prince George Hotel, Thursday night, I had a fitful sleep worrying about Joan’s operation, Skye at the kennel, and Lucifer.  Lucifer was a particular worry.  Had she gone into the shop and gotten closed in there?   Had she gotten shut into the crawl space under the house?  
    On Friday when Joan had her operation, I called our friends the Milnes, who always drive into McBride on Fridays and asked them to drive to our place and see if they can find the cat.  They found her on the balcony and let her into the house along with her food, water, and litter box. 
    That is where I found her when I returned home on Saturday afternoon.  I picked up Skye at the hostel, when she ran out of the hostel door, she didn’t even stop to greet me, she just made a bee-line for the car.
    It felt good for me and the animals to be back together at home.  Joan will be up in the Prince George hospital for a few more days.

You can view my paintings at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Thursday 2 July 2015

A Mountain Goat Path

    I went on my first alpine hike of the year on Sunday along with Taylor, a new resident of the area.  It was up on McBride Peak.   As we got up to the “summit” we had to decide which direction to head off in.  There was a sharp looking peak off to the left and decided to head for it.  From the distance we could see a bit of a path in that direction so off we went.   Along the path we found some fuzzy bits which at first I thought was fluffy seeds, but there were some hairs in it so we figured it must be mountain goat.   As we followed the path it was confirmed as we spotted tracks.
    I know that goats are amazing climbers, but I was amazed at where the tracks led.  We got into situations, where I didn’t now how to transverse rocky outcrops and scary troughs.  The photo below shows Taylor straddling a sharp rocky ridge (that was the only way I could see to safely get across it because it dropped off steeply on both sides.)   Once we passed the obstacles we saw the goat tracks again, so they must have gotten through the rough bits too.
    After we sat on a high ridge and ate lunch over looking mountains and alpine meadows in all directions, it was time to head back.  After considering other routes (they all seemed a bit treacherous to me) we headed back the way we came. 
    It was all a bit more rock maneuvering than I was used to and I feared going down some of the places we had come, would be more scary and difficult than climbing up, but we made it back without any problems except I hit my knee on a pointed rock.  The problems for me came that night and the next day when my leg muscles let me know what they thought of our excursion.   
    While it was hot and mosquito-infested down at the bottom of the valley, up in the alpine it was wonderfully cool, breezy, and refreshing.  I can’t wait for the next opportunity I get to go up there.

My paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Evening Fog

    Yesterday afternoon we finally got a heavy rain and the temperature cooled.  At 9:00 PM as I was driving home from our jam session a fog had formed in the valley.  I braved the mosquitoes to take these photos.  These photos were taken about 10 minutes apart, and it is interesting to see how much the color had changed.

Look at my paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca