Thursday 31 December 2015

Ice Rising

    What you are looking at is the plank bridge that we walk over at the far end of the pond.  It is the water outflow, where the excess water drains out of the pond.  As you can see it is covered with ice.  Strangely, the ice level on the pond is rising with ice forming on top of ice, and has now engulfed the bridge and some of the low parts of our path.  The ice level has gone up about 1 foot or 30 cm.
    I’m always trying to figure out why things are happening and I think that in this case, all the rain we had a few weeks ago has flowed under the snow to the pond it then somehow flowed between the ice and the snow layer on top of the ice then froze, raising the ice level.  Every winter is different and although I always think that ice on the pond is something stable, obviously that is not the case, and all kind of things are happening that we usually are not aware of.

You can view my paintings at:

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Dog in the Tree

    I should know by now that you can’t out-smart a dog.    Last night Joan fried up some chicken breasts and so when I got around to doing the dishes, I was faced with the problem of getting rid of the oil that the breasts were fried in.  I didn’t want to flush it, so that was out.  I knew that Skye has been checking out the compost pile on a semi-daily basis, so I didn’t want to pour it there.  Then I came upon a solution.  
    I decided to just pour it on one of the willow trees in the yard.  I figured Skye wouldn’t be tempted with it then.  As you can see from the photo I was wrong.
    An hour ago Skye wanted to go outside.   When she didn’t come back in right away I thought I would check up on her.  I looked out of the window to see if she was under the bird feeder, picking up scraps of  dropped peanut butter or suet; she wasn’t there.  I looked out of the back window to see if she was nosing around the compost pile--nope, not there.  Then in my search I looked out by the carport and there she was up in the willow tree.
    What a dog.

Take a look at my paintings:

Monday 28 December 2015

Pussy Willows Fooled

    We came across these poor pussy willows the other day down at Horseshoe Lake.  It looks like the very mild temperatures and rain we had a few weeks back made them think that spring was at hand.  They were wrong.

My paintings can be viewed at:

Sunday 27 December 2015

The Going Down of the Sun

    A few afternoons ago at 2:00 we were walking Skye just as the sun was disappearing behind the mountains.  It was interesting because from our viewpoint the sun was setting just at the crotch between two mountains.

My paintings can be seen at:

Saturday 26 December 2015

I Ate Too Much--Again

    I am finding it way too difficult not to over-indulge in all of the amazing array of food available during this holiday season.  Last night was another “Free Turkey Dinner” in McBride.  It was put on by volunteers for all of those who weren’t involved in other get-togethers on Christmas Day.  Since Joan and I qualified, we were happy to be able to join the others in the community who were likewise unengaged.  
    Of course I overdid the consumption and after we had waddled back to the car and drove home, I spent the rest of the evening reciting the mantra:  “I must learn to restrain myself, I must learn to restrain myself.”  It wasn’t only the food that as enjoyable at the feast, it was good to engage in conversations with people I rarely get to talk to beyond the “How are you doing?” stage as I rush through the day.
    We are still in the middle of the eating season and I hope the mantra will do me some good dealing with all that good food that is yet to come.

You can see my paintings at:

Thursday 24 December 2015

Low on the Horizon

    In the Northern Hemisphere around the time of the Winter Solstice, the arc of the Sun’s path never rises very high in the sky.  At our place it seems to always be shining through trees instead of above them.  I took this photo yesterday at 11:00 in the morning and you can see from the length of the shadows that the sun is fairly low in the sky.
    Even though there is still a lot of cold weather to come (-21C, -6F this morning), knowing that we have passed the solstice and that the length of each day will be getting longer gives me hope.

Take a look at my paintings:

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Artsy-Fartsy River Shots

    The photo above is some river ice with some frost that is catching some sunlight.  Below you see some driftwood on the sandbank of the Fraser River with a bit of wind-blown sand covering snow.

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Tuesday 22 December 2015

A Real Canadian Scene

    Here is another of those photos I took while out walking the dog.  I took Skye down to Horseshoe Lake again for our walk.  It was a beautiful day; sunny, and mild, with temperatures just around freezing.  As Skye and I walked down Horseshoe Lake Road, all was quiet, then the peace was disturbed by a loud “Whack”.  I turned to see what had made the noise and off in the distance I saw three kids out on an icy patch on a field, skating around and playing hockey.
    It was a scene that I really loved to see; kids outside making their own fun.  It seems to me to be a rare sight these days, when most young people spend there time inside in front of some kind of screen.  It warmed my heart to see them out of doors getting exercise, and although I didn’t play hockey, it made me remember my own childhood having fun on a frozen lake, skating around in the brisk winter air.

Take a look at my photo-realistic paintings:

Monday 21 December 2015

Down by the Riverside

    Wow, we made it!  Here we are at the Winter Solstice which always makes me happy because the days will begin to get longer.  (I ignore the fact that it is actually marks the beginning of winter.)
    My blogs probably should be named “Where I Walk the Dog,” since most of the photos that I post were taken on our daily dog walks.  Yesterday as I drove Skye over the Fraser River Bridge, I glanced down at the river and noticed that the sandbank was relatively snow free, so I decided that we should do our walk down there.
    Skye is always more patient when Joan is along on the walk.  When it is just Skye and me, all she seems to think of is getting back home where her bowl of food will be waiting.  I threw the ball across the sand for her to chase, she darted out to get it, picked it up, then carried it back towards me, but just kept on going past me, heading for the truck, so I knew she just wanted to get home so she could eat.
    All of the lakes around here are now covered with ice, so it was nice to see a bit of open water on the Fraser.  Looking across the river I could see the old Koeneman cabin with McBride Peak beyond.

You can view my paintings at:

Sunday 20 December 2015

In Memory of George

    The Robson Valley has more than it’s quota of unique characters.  We lost one last week when George Kovarik succumbed to cancer.  I have mentioned Nadia Kovarik’s book, “Bear in the Window” several times recently, and George (Nadia’s husband) naturally plays a prominent part in the story.  After escaping from Communist Czechoslovakia, they were accepted as refugees by Canada and slowly made their way to the mountains of BC that they loved.
    George always pictured himself as a woodsman in the mountains and qualified himself with that label by singularly building a log home when they lived in the Kootenays.   I first met George back when I worked at the BC Forest Service.  Upon moving to the valley, he came in to look at maps.  Although an acquaintance, I didn’t get to know him better until later when I started helping Nadia with the book.   By then he was having memory problems, but was alway friendly and joking around despite his terminal condition.
    George loved to be out among people, and I am sure his overly friendly style caught many off guard.  He was always coming up to me in gatherings and saying, “Its a great social happening.”  He and Nadia’s love of dancing meant they were always the last ones to leave the dance floor when things began to wind down.  
    George had his quirks.  He could always be seen driving or on his bicycle wearing white cloth work gloves, despite the hot temperatures.  I could count on him asking or saying the same thing in a mock serious manner:  “How is it you know so much?”  or  “It was great to see you and I really mean it this time.”
    Below are some photos of George doing what he loved, building the log house.  In the snow shot, he is digging the logs out of the snow.  He had to figure out ways of moving and maneuvering the logs into place all by himself. features my paintings.

Saturday 19 December 2015

Horseshoe Lake Walk

    Winter limits where we can go for a walk with the dog.  The airfield is normally covered with snow and on most of the places that are plowed, there is a lot of vehicle traffic.  As you have no doubt noticed from all the photos on this blog, we have been going for most of our walks east of McBride on Jervis or Jeck Road.  
    If we have to go into McBride for something we try to find a place close at hand, so we don’t have to do a lot of extra driving.  The other day when I was in town, I thought I would try Horseshoe Lake and walk Skye down the road that leads to the lone house that is situated down there.  I was pleased to find the small parking area by the bird observatory gazebo plowed, so that was a plus.
    The road itself was a great place to walk.  While it is not quite as long as some of our other walks, there were lots of interesting smells for Skye, and a nice change of scenery for me.

You can see my photo-realistic paintings at:

Friday 18 December 2015

Velvet Slopes

    I really love this effect of snow covered trees giving the mountains a velvety textured look.  The bright sun really emphasizes all of the dips and hogbacks of the mountain.  The picture shows the lower part of Beaver Mountain, just east of McBride.

You can view my paintings at:

Thursday 17 December 2015


    Yesterday when we were driving out to do our walk, Joan spotted two eagles sitting side by side on a tree beside Highway 16.  It would have been a beautiful photo, but I was driving so I missed it.  A second later, we saw a murder of ravens fly up from the ditch beside the highway, so I figured that there had probably been a deer hit and all of the birds had gathered for a feast.  
    On the way back when we approached the spot where we saw the bald eagles, I pulled over.  The eagles had changed position, and there were actually three of them in the nearby trees.  I took these photos of the big birds.

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Wednesday 16 December 2015

Not Sure Why I Like It

    Here is a photo I took a week ago.  I really like it, but I am not sure why.  I think part of the reason is the monochromic nature of the shot; mostly shades of gray and brown.  I also like the spareness of the composition and the way the trees seem to be anchored to the ice.  

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Tuesday 15 December 2015

My Printer Problem Solved

    I am happy to report that after numerous international phone calls, hours of waiting, and running off piles of paper testing the thing, my new Lexmark CS510de printer is finally producing the products that it should.  If you remember my problem was that the printed matter was offset vertically on the page with a space on the top and the bottom text being cut off by the bottom edge of the paper.
    The solution came when the technician from Prince George called to get information about the problem before he drove down to McBride.  He had me send him some scans of test prints generated by the machine and noticed that the formatted paper size was “A4,”  something that the other trouble-shooters failed to notice.  I had changed the paper size to “Letter” in the menu before, but I guess I  failed to press the little button with a green check mark so that my change was set, and so whenever I printed something, printer just reverted the paper size back to A4.  It seems strange that the A4 paper size was the default.  It certainly isn’t used in North America.  That is why I had the same problem with both printers that I got.
    At any rate, I am thankful that my printer is now working the way I expected and that so much person power was provided by Lexmark to solve my problem, even though the simple fix was missed.

See my paintings:

Monday 14 December 2015

Back to Jervis Road

    The disappearing snow brought on by a warm spell and rain, changed the landscape on the Robson Valley bottomland and made it look like spring was returning.  Here are some shots I took our walk on Jervis Road.

Take a look at my paintings:

Sunday 13 December 2015

Shipping News; More Adventures with my New Printer

    In my blog of December 9th I wrote about having two new printers, both with the same problem.  If you remember, I was told that a technician was going to be sent from Prince George (135 miles, 217 km) away to fix it.  I am still waiting for that technician, but I thought I should hang on to both printers until he comes, but then on Tuesday, I got a call from somewhere in the States, and the Lexmark guy wanted to know when I was going to send my first printer back.
    The call made me think I should probably just do it since it was clogging up the room.  So I told him that I would deal with it right away.  I asked him if I should take it down to the Post Office in McBride, because that is where it originally arrived, and explained that we didn’t have a UPS presence in our little far away village.  He said just follow the directions in the second printer’s box.
    Those directions told me to call a phone number and make arrangements for pick up at my home.  I called the number and made arrangements to have it picked up.  I asked the UPS person on the line, if it would really be picked up at my home, because in this little place we rarely get pick and delivery at home, and usually have to take the parcel somewhere in town.  He told me it would be picked up between 9:00 and 1:00 the next day (Wednesday) at our home.
    “Okay,” I replied and hung up.  A few minutes later, I realized that the free Christmas Dinner for Seniors which we were planning to attend was happening on Weds. at noon, so I called the UPS number back to tell them, but got another person who seemed not to be able to put that information into my appointment.  
    “If you miss the pickup, just call and have it picked up the following day.”
    “Okay,” I replied.
    Of course on Wednesday, the pick up of my printer was in the forefront of my mind.  I had arranged to have the car worked on in McBride, which would require both Joan and I to be away from the house as we took the car in and brought me back, but making sure that we would be home by 9:00, we took the car into town at 8:00, returned home and waited for the courier.
    The courier didn’t arrive, and it was time to go to the Christmas Dinner, so I just thought, well if he comes while we were gone, I will just have to have it picked up tomorrow.  We went to the dinner, ate our fill, and returned home.  I noticed from the lack of fresh tire tracks on the driveway that the courier had not visited our house in our absence.
    When I got back in the house, I noticed there was a message on the answering machine.  It was the courier speaking at a very low volume, but I could make out that I was supposed to take the printer to the Post Office and it would be picked up there.  Tired of messing around, I decided to do it immediately and get the extra printer off of my hands.  
    I put the heavy box into the car and drove it down to the post office, and carried it in.  I told Wendy behind the counter about what I was told.  She had no idea what I was talking about and said that they had no UPS that picked things up there, and Purolator (another courier) wasn’t really part of the post office either.  When I told her that that was what I was told to do, feeling sympathy for me, she said, “Just leave it here and if nothing happens tomorrow I will call and you can pick it back up.”  Happy to have the printer off of my hands I drove home.
    Back home I called the number left on the answering machine and told the person that I had left the box at the Post Office, Okay, he said.
    The next morning I got a call from UPS asking me about the printer.  I told them I had taken it down to the Post Office to be picked up.  I was then told that I needed a special label for Purolator on the box.  He ask me what the dimensions and weight of the box was.  When I answered that I didn’t know, he said I should find out and call him back then he would make up the special label and mail it to me and I should put it on the box and it would be picked up.
    I was getting pretty mad at this point.  I called the Post Office to find out if they could just measure the box and weigh it for me or whether I had to come down and pick it up again.  I called and the friendly Post Mistress said, “Oh, they already picked it up and took it away.”

    So I only hope it gets where it is supposed to go.         

My paintings:

Saturday 12 December 2015

"Bear in the Window" Book Launch

    Last night about 50 of McBride’s literati turned out for the official launch of Nadia Kovarik’s book, “Bear in the Window”.   The evening went very well as the audience was entertained by Nadia’s readings of humorous sections from the text, after which snacks and treats were provided during the mingle and eat part of the evening.  Nadia sold and signed copies of the book which seemed to be disappearing rapidly.  
    As mentioned in an earlier blog, the book follows Nadia and George as they escape from Communist Czechoslovakia, becoming refugees in a camp in Italy, then after being accepted by Canada, they live in various small towns, always searching for that perfect spot in the mountains, where they could build their lives and make a home amongst the wildlife and wilderness.  It is light hearted and humorous and documents their various adventures.
    People who don’t live in the Robson Valley can obtain the book on Amazon:

Below is a link.  

You can see my paintings at:

Friday 11 December 2015

My Painting: "Tail Light"

    I have just finished my 50th painting.  It is the tail light on my old farm truck, which was also featured in my paintings “Truck” and “Patina.”   While not a glamorous subject, it really appealed to me for several reasons:  It had lots of color, lots of texture, and it kind of represented all the scars and dents accumulated in a long eventful life.
    The painting took 117 hours to complete, it is acrylic on a 20” x 24” canvas.  

You can see all my paintings and see how my current work progresses daily at:

Thursday 10 December 2015

The Perks of Old Age

    While mentally I still feel like I am 25, my body is starting to tell me otherwise, but realistically I know I am a “retiree” and even though Joan and I don’t often take advantage of some of the perks allotted to those in that age bracket, yesterday we did.
      Every year the ScotiaBank helps put on a free Christmas dinner for seniors.  The lure of all that good food was too much of a temptation for us to pass up so we drove down to the Elks Hall, sat ourselves down at the gaily decorated tables, talked to those friends and acquaintances around us, then enjoyed the really scrumptious meal.
    I confess I did feel a whole lot more like an elderly person by the time we left the hall.  It was hard to raise my bloated body from the chair and a struggle to carry all of that extra weight I had consumed, out to the car.
    I want to thank all those volunteers who worked to give us old timers such a delicious meal.

Take a look at my paintings:

Wednesday 9 December 2015

A Tale of Two Printers

    Back on my Nov. 29th blog, I told you about the hassle of buying a brand new printer Lexmark CS510 printer and the frustration I felt when it didn’t print properly, not centering the page, skewing things to the bottom where it was cut off by the bottom edge of the paper.  Joan, the Lexmark technician I talked to in the Philippines had me try several things to correct the problem, but in the end, the problem was not solved.  She even forgot the time difference and called me at 7:00 AM to try something else.  (I told her it was too early in the morning for me to get out of bed to mess with it.)
    In the end, Lexmark sent me a brand new printer.  When it arrived I just used the existing cable, still plugged in to my computer, and tried to print something.  I kept getting the error message “Printer is not connected.”  Thinking that maybe something had gone wrong with the ethernet cable, I tried several different ones, but the printer failed to get the message from my computer.  
    I got back on the phone and this time talked to Patrick, also in the Philippines.  He had me do a couple of things on the printer and on my Mac and finally the two of them were communicating.  I tried to print something out, and to my dismay discovered exactly the same problem with the new printer--the document didn’t center vertically, there was a blank space on the top of the page, while the text was cut off on the bottom.   Now I had two new printers that didn’t work.
    Patrick had me try several other things to try to solve the problem, he even wanted to send me a third new printer, but I refused, saying if the first two had the same problem, I didn’t think the third would be any different.  Patrick transferred me to another technician, who also failed to solve the problem and he told me that a technician would be sent to my house to fix the printer.
    I found this rather unbelievable since I live in a really remote village that is 135 miles (217km) from a moderate sized city (Prince George, BC).  I said it was a long drive on a dangerous highway, especially in the winter, but the technician said that they would send someone, so I said, “Okay.”
    I packed up the first printer and supposedly some courier will pick it up today, (something I also had doubts about, since in our little village we usually have to deliver things to be couriered to some location in McBride, but we’ll see.)
    This whole printer thing has been a real pain.  The sections of things that are printed are of good quality, I just wish they were centered.  The Lexmark technicians have been friendly and eager to help, but the problem seems to be something unknown.  I have been impressed with the lengths Lexmark has gone to in trying to solve my problem, and I hope a solution can soon be found so I can get back to my ordinary life, a life spent not thinking about my printer.

You can view my paintings at:

Tuesday 8 December 2015

An Uneasy Truce

    Our cat Lucifer was a holy terror when she was young.  As she has aged she has become more gentle and often even wants to be kind.  She will often try to snuggle up to Skye, our dog.  Skye, however has a long memory and can’t let go of all those hissing fits and scary claws that the cat displayed in those early days, and Skye still doesn’t want anything to do with Lucifer.
    There are days though when Skye is napping that Lucifer quietly jumps up on the bed and tries to get close.  As long as she doesn’t actually touch Skye, Lucifer is tolerated.
    The other day when I walked into my bedroom, there they were, both on the bed.  When I raised  my camera they both looked up to see what was happening.  It does seem that Lucifer is a little sad about not being able to get closer to Skye.

You can view my paintings at:

Monday 7 December 2015

"Seeds of Inspiration" Show

    I love to have my paintings shown, so I was overjoyed a year ago when I was told that there was going to be a show at the McBride Library featuring the works of painters who sold at the WhistleStop Gallery.   Then about 4 months later I was told that the show was suddenly not about the works of the painters, but about a “theme”.  The theme was “Seeds of Inspiration” which was supposed to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of McBride’s Farmer’s Institute, an organization for local farmers.
    I shook my head in dismay.  Themed shows are so false, and force the artist try to give meaning to their paintings that the paintings really don’t have.
    Since the theme was agriculture and I certainly didn’t have the time (or desire) to paint something new about farming, I was forced to look through my existing works and try to see if I could make any of them fit the theme.  I did have “Sunflower” (you can see it in the photo), “Morning Cloud” (featuring cows in a pasture), and “Peppers”, all older works.
    I was already peeved at the fact that the show was now supposed to celebrate the Farmer’s Institute, when I read in the local paper that member’s of the Institute were upset that the BC government had proposed making the Ancient Forest (an area of giant old cedars, in a very rare inland rainforest) a Class A Provincial Park.  When I heard about their opposition, I was ready to just withdraw from the show, since I didn’t want to celebrate that type of rural conservative mentality.
    I did come up with a compromise.  Since I was told during my initial complaining about having a themed show that “Seeds of Inspiration” could be stretched to mean anything (“Whatever inspires you”), I put my painting “Pillar of the Earth” (or “Cedar”) whose subject is one of the giant cedars growing in the Ancient Forest, into the show.  It was an honest response since the ancient old gnarled cedar did inspire me.  
    We had a nice turnout at the opening on Friday and the show will remain on display at the McBride Library though December.

You can see all of my paintings at:

Sunday 6 December 2015

Our Own Personal Speed Bump

    Just when I thought winter had been established, our weather has done a 180 and the cold clear stuff has been replaced with wind, melting temperatures, and rain.   The snow in the yard is sagging and the snow on our metal roof is melting and slowly sliding off.  As the snow comes off of the carport roof it has created a speed bump, keeping us from driving too fast as we pull in.

You can view my paintings at:

Saturday 5 December 2015

Windy McBride

    This overturned mobile sign (complete with solar panel) gives evidence of the strong winds that McBride often experiences during the fall.  It has been sitting in this position for a couple of days now.

You can see my paintings at:

Friday 4 December 2015

Frost on Weeds

    The frost and the cold clear weather that created the frost in these photos has now disappeared.  Yesterday we had lots of wind with rain and today’s sky is gray so since I have not been very inspired to take photos, I thought I would show these two.

You can see my paintings at:

Thursday 3 December 2015

The Dresser

    I have often mentioned the scary winter drive from McBride to Prince George.  One of the many hills along the route is the one that climbs up from Slim Creek.  When I am driving that incline, I often think about an episode that happened to our old neighbors Kjell and Celine on one of their trips to Prince George.  
    The story actually starts with Bob and Mary, some other neighbors.  They were getting ready to move to Australia, and had to get rid of a lot of possessions before the move.  Among the items they were going to give away was an antique dresser.  Mary had a friend who lives in Prince that wanted it, so they took it over to Kjell and Celine’s and asked them to take it along to Prince George sometime on one of their trips.
    Kjell and Celine put the dresser in storage in their basement and sort of forgot about it, until they had a bit of a flood in their basement and it came back to their attention and they decided it was time to deal with it.  One winter’s Friday evening after work, they loaded the dresser into the back of their station wagon and took off down an icy Highway 16 to Prince George.  
    It was probably around this time of year, and they didn’t have good tires on their station wagon.  When they began to climb the hill at Slim Creek, the icy conditions caused the rear of the station wagon to fishtail back and forth.  It swerved toward the side of the road, slamming against the rim of snow on the curb.  The resulting “Bump” caused the back door of the station wagon, which didn’t close properly, to swing open, ejecting the dresser, which rolled over the bank and down the hill.
    Kjell stopped the car and walked back to where the incident took place then slogged down through the deep snow to where the pieces of the dresser were scattered.  I assume it took him several trips up and down the deep snow on the slope to collect all the pieces, but he gathered them all, piled them into the back of the station wagon, and then they resumed their trip to Prince George.
    Once they arrived in Prince, they drove over to the address Mary had provided where they were to deliver the dresser.   Unfortunately, they discovered that no one was home, and not knowing what else to do, Kjell just unloaded all the pieces of the dresser from the car and put them into a pile on the carport, then drove away.
    I always wonder what the recipient of that dresser thought when she discovered the pile of wooden pieces on her carport.

Take a look at my paintings:

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Blankets of Snow

    Here are a couple of photos of the snow that is blanketing our the lower part of our property.  Both shots were taken less than a minute apart.  The difference in color is due to the light.  The top photo was taken with the camera shooting almost directly into the sun.  Because the camera had to restrict the intense light, it caused the shadowed areas to become very dark, which took out most of the color.          
    The same effect occurs when you “squint” your eyes.
    In the lower photo the sunlight was not as intense so the photo shows more of the subtle coloring in the scene.
    There is about 10 inches (25 cm) of snow on the ground.

You can view my paintings:

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Blue Shadows

    Yesterday on our walk, as usual, I was looking around for something to photograph when I noticed  the blue arc of the ditch on the side of the road.  The shadow created by the ditch was an intense blue color created by the snow reflecting the color from the sky, and I thought the curve of the road gave the scene a dynamic feel to the scene.

You can see my paintings at: