Saturday 30 April 2016

Hadwin's Judgement

    I saw a very interesting movie last night--”Hadwin’s Judgement”.  I went to the film out of curiosity, because one day when I was working for the BC Forest Service, I met the subject of the movie, Grant Hadwin, so the film had some personal connection as well as some local connection, since Grant Hadwin had spent some time working in the Robson Valley.
    This story is also told in the book, “The Golden Spruce”.  Grant Hadwin grew up on the BC coast among the giant cedar and Sitka spruce forests.  He was an immensely strong and fit man who began working for coastal forest companies.  He loved the forests, and became more and more conflicted about doing the timber cruising and road layout work that led to the destruction of those forests.  I could really relate to this because I also did timber cruising for a while and experienced the very same feelings.
    Grant’s frustration at the seemingly unstoppable destruction of the forests by the big forestry companies, eventually led him to cut down the “Golden Spruce” a unique and loved genetic mutant that had been “protected” by one of those big forest companies.  This act of protest was a severe misstep and alienated everyone (forest company, environmentalists, and First Nations People).
    Seeing what hatred he had brought upon himself, Grant Hadwin disappeared on a kayak, while supposedly attempting to kayak to his trial across the huge and dangerous strait to Haida Gwaii.  “Wreckage” of his kayak, and some personal items where found suspiciously together on a rocky shoreline of Alaska, but it is a mystery as to whether he drowned, or escaped to the wilderness using his physical skills and bush knowledge.
    The movie was beautifully filmed, and thought provoking.  I watched it at a showing sponsored by the McBride Library, projected on a bed sheet, but you can download it.

You can read my blog about the book, “The Golden Spruce” at:

You can see my paintings:

Friday 29 April 2016

Newly Leafed Aspen

    One of the colors of spring that I enjoy the most is the light green of the newly formed aspen leaves.  It makes a really nice counterpoint to the dark blues of the mountains, especially when the sun is highlighting the trees, like in the photo above.   As the spring turns to summer, the leaves turn a darker green which remains until fall, when they change to a bright yellow and again give a nice contrast to the mountains.

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

Thursday 28 April 2016

Ancient Forest, Ancient Politics

    Ever since people became aware of the giant Western Cedars in what is now called the Ancient Forest, they have been trying to get park status for the area, so that the rare Interior Rainforest ecosystem would be protected.  Thousands of dollars and hours of volunteer time have been contributed so that walkways and trails could be established, giving people access to the unique area which is located on Hightway 16 between McBride and Prince George.  The effort has paid off because everyday, cars stop and visitors pile out, to walk through the forest of giant old trees.
    Like I said, for years there has been an effort to gain park status for the area, by environmentalist, academics, and even government forest scientists and planners, but the BC Liberal government (Note:  “Liberal” is a misnomer) whose main constituency is resource extractors (logging and mining interests) was not about to do anything that might upset its funding sources.   Some limited protection was finally given to isolated stands of cedar and the main visited area of the Ancient Forest.    
    Last month the government did finally give Provincial Park status to a big area of the ecosystem and I was extremely happy, but at the same time it is upsetting to see how it probably happened.
    Half a year ago, I was surprised to hear that the Ancient Forest was going to become a Provincial Park.  This was not public information when I heard it, and I was amazed and puzzled that the BC government would do such a thing, given its history.  The story that was related to me was that a millionaire, donor to the BC Liberals, told the government that he wanted to see the Ancient Forest made into a park.  I know that money talks, but I was still not convinced it would happen.
    Months later, the government held a couple of community meetings for public input about the proposed park.  In the meeting I attended the local “red neck” faction was there in force, saying things like a park would “limit jobs” (they could make wood stove pellets out of those old cedars, it would prevent people from grazing cattle in the woods, and it stop snowmobiling there, if someone wanted to do it.)--all ridiculous arguments if you know the area.
    After getting home from the meeting I was very depressed.  These were the people that support the BC Liberals, surely the government would drop the park idea in response.  Amazingly, they didn’t and last month the government announced that the Ancient Forest had been given an “A” Provincial Park Status.
    There is a lesson to the learned here--like Randy Newman says in a song, “Its money that matters.”
    To view my photo-realistic paintings visit:

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Morning Walk

    The sun had already cleared the mountain ridge this morning when Skye and I walked around the pond.  The leaves were back lit and the dew was sparkling on the grass.  Skye, who uncharacteristically took the lead, stopped to check out the ring-necked ducks who were swimming on the pond as I took this photo.

You can see my paintings:

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Yikes, Frost

    I have been hopeful about getting some plums off of our trees this year, because they had produced so many blooms, but now I fear it may be a bust.  Last night we had a frost (-2C, 28F) and it hit a lot plants really hard and I am not sure what effect it will have on future plums.  In the photo above of a plum branch complete with ice on the leaves.  
    Below are photos of frost on poppy leaves and a delphinium plant.

Take a look at my paintings:

Monday 25 April 2016

A Threatening Sky

    These clouds did not make us feel very welcome the other day when we took Skye out for her walk.  They did finally give us some much needed rain, but after a couple of days of moisture and cooler temperatures, I am ready for some more sunshine and warmth.

Check out my paintings:

Sunday 24 April 2016

Hostas Unroll

    If you’ve looked through my paintings, you know that I like Hostas a lot.  In the spring they first appear as spear-points poking out of the ground, then they begin to unroll.  That is the stage mine are in now, and yesterday I took some photos of their progress.

You can see my paintings of Hostas at:

Saturday 23 April 2016


    The spring of 1978 was the first spring we experienced after buying our house in McBride, BC.  Everything was new to us and one of the first things we noticed were the clumps of pink and lavender flowers that suddenly appeared around features in our yard.  The plant had spotted leaves and the flower buds had short hairs on them.  
    We learned that the plant was a Lungwort.  Lungwort seems to like what it finds in our yard because it thrives and is still pops up every spring, all these decades later.  It flowers early, so is popular with pollinating insects.
    I find the name ‘Lungwort’ to be pretty ugly, and I guess in the past it was thought to help lung conditions.  It was during those times when it was believed that if some natural thing looked like some part of the body it would probably help cure problems in that part of the body, and people thought that the spotted leaves somehow resembled lungs.  The same bogus reasoning is still around today, note the thinking that a rhino horn is an aphrodisiac.  

You can look at my photo-realistic paintings at:

Thursday 21 April 2016

Blossoming Like Crazy

    I’m not sure if its the very early arrival of warm weather or something that happened last fall, but we are seeing and extraordinary amount of blossoms around our house that we have never experienced before.  Our plum trees, that in the past only managed to put our a handful of white flowers are covered.  The pink flowering almond had never bloomed and there was talk of digging it up.  Our forsythia has always been an embarrassment because of its sparsity of flowers and this year it is down right respectable.
    I am particularly excited about our plum trees.  In past years I have only gotten maybe one or two plums, if any, off of them, and with this year’s explosion of blooms and all the bee activity between the two trees, I have high hopes of getting, at least enough plums to put in a bowl. 
    Spring is always such an optimistic time.

My paintings:

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Take Me Home, Quick

    Joan and I are such softies, that it gets to be pretty traumatic for us whenever we have to leave our dog Skye at the kennel, like we did on Monday when she got her spring haircut.  Being at the kennel is pretty traumatic for Skye also.  Whenever we go to pick her up, she streaks from the kennel door, straight for the car door and jumps inside, not even stopping to greet Joan and I.  Here is a photo of her leap to safety.

You can view my paintings at:

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Our Dog's Spring Haircut

    It’s hard to imagine that the two photos feature the same dog.  With the advent of warmer weather, Skye was certainly feeling the heat and the burden of carrying around her thick winter coat.  She was obviously uncomfortable in the hot sun, and every time she came inside after being out, she was covered with sticky cottonwood husks and other particles that she picked up on her fur.  Once inside she dropped them and spread them all over the house.
    Yesterday we took her over to Ann’s to get a haircut.  We hardly recognized her after the deed was done, but she smells so good from the shampoo, and her coat is very soft to the touch.  I’m sure she is a lot more comfortable.

You can see my paintings at:

Monday 18 April 2016

Chaga Revisited

    On my blog of June 16th, 2015:
    I wrote about discovering that the black crusty mass on our birch tree was something called Chaga that was thought by many to be a miracle cure.  About a month ago I had our birch tree cut down because it had died last summer, and so I got to take a closer look at Chaga.  It is about 8 inches (20cm) in diameter.
    The photo above shows a close-up of its exterior, and the other photo shows what it looks like on the inside.  
    I guess I will somehow grind it up so I can brew some of my own miracle tea.

Check my paintings out:

Sunday 17 April 2016

Pollen Season

    I have talked to a couple of local residents who have complained about their asthma and hay fever lately.  Luckily, all the pollen in the air doesn’t effect me, so I really wasn’t aware of it until I noticed this slough in the woods that was covered with pollen.  Seeing it, suddenly made me realized just how much of the tiny particles must be floating around out there in the air, and if you are allergic to it, there isn’t much chance of you escaping.  

Take a look at my photos:

Saturday 16 April 2016

"Ahh, Doughnuts"

    I came upon this unusually shaped cattail fluff on a walk around the pond.  I don’t quite know how it happened, but I somehow when this cattail head started to unravel, it ended up with this circular shape.  My mouth immediately started to salivate because it looked so much like a doughnut. 

Check out my paintings: 

Friday 15 April 2016

Shell Company Cartoon

   If I remember correctly today is the day US income tax forms must be submitted (Canadian’s still have another two weeks.)  Here is a cartoon concerning taxes.

Take a look at my paintings:

Thursday 14 April 2016

Cattail Fluff

    Twenty minutes ago I didn’t know what I would put on my blog, so I went outside and walked around the pond to see if I could find anything that peaked my interest.  I noticed how all of the cattail heads were exploding, as the seed fluff broke loose from their confines in order to be spread by the wind.  I initially started all of the cattails that surround the pond’s shoreline by spreading cattail fluff, that I had gathered along a roadside ditch, out on the pond’s surface.
    Cattails were an extremely useful plant to Native Americans.  Among other uses they wove the stems into mats and gathered the seed fluff for stuffing pillows and mattresses, and also used it for wound dressing and diapers.

Look at my paintings:

Wednesday 13 April 2016

I Assumed

    This spring I finally decided to replace the vent windows on my greenhouse, since they are rotting away.  My made my whole greenhouse using from castaway glass and windows that I had scrounged from various locations.  The windows I used for the vents were give-aways from a co-worker that used at my Forestry office, who had them left over after replacing her basement windows.  
    Because I made my greenhouse out of so many different sources, I had to design it all out on the computer make everything fit.   That was many years ago, so I had forgotten a lot of the details.
    The first thing I did on my window replacement project was to measure one of the vent windows to see what dimensions I had to make the new ones.  It was 48 inches long.  I was going to replace 3 windows, and so just bought a thick piece of plywood and cut out four 48 inch frames, rather than try to construct frames using multiple pieces of wood.  
    I cut out the frames, sanded them, painted them and then attached white coroplast (a plastic cardboard-like material) rather than glass, since no sunlight ever comes through those vent windows.  Once I had them made I was ready to put them up.  I took out what was left of the first old vent window then attached the new one.  Things were going well, and I started on the second one.  I took down the old then held up the new one to attach the hinge.  
    “Wait a minute, what’s going on?”-- this second window didn’t fit.
    I walked to the shop and got my measuring tape and measured the opening.  I was only 47 inches long instead of the 48 that I had made all my windows. 
    “Now, what am I going to do?”
    Luckily, I came up with a solution.  Fortunately, the frames I made had wide ends, so I was able to cut off 1/2 an inch off of each side of one to fit the window in the space.  
    Then I measured the third window, to my great dismay it was only 41 inches.  There was no way I could cut down my new windows to fit in that space.  It looks like I will only be replacing two vent windows this spring.
    Of course, from past experience I should have known that nothing on our property is consistent and I should have measured every single window rather than assuming they were all the same.  I sure wasted a lot of time and money on an assumption.

Take a look at my paintings:

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Wet Lupines

    The star burst shape of lupine leaves have always been an attraction for me.   Even though I am sure I have already taken hundreds of photos of them, I can’t seem to pass them by without taking another shot.  I don’t know if they have some hidden biological reason for channeling water down to their center, but it doesn’t really matter to me, I think it just adds to their attraction.

You can see my painting of a Lupine bloom on my website:

Monday 11 April 2016

A Spring Garden Surprise

    This might not be a surprise to knowledgeable vegetable gardeners, but it was a surprise to me.  It was a nice reward for my laziness last autumn.  I generally pull out all of the plants in my garden and rototill the garden before winter, but last fall I didn’t get around to it.  As a result there were a lot of weeds and vegetable roots left in my garden this spring.
    Yesterday as I was trying to clean away the old weeds, to my surprise I discovered a whole row of lettuce, green and leafy, growing vigorously.  I really didn’t expect to find growing lettuce in the garden. Two weeks ago I planted new lettuce seeds in the garden, but that hasn’t come up, but this discovery that last year’s lettuce is regrowing will provide us with lettuce to eat very soon.  I tasted a leaf to see if it was bitter, but it was fine.
    From now on I think I will leave some lettuce plants in the ground over winter so I have an early crop in the spring. 

Take a peek at my photo-realistic paintings:

Sunday 10 April 2016

Grazing Horses

    Here is a scene from our walk yesterday down on Horseshoe Lake Road.  I really like the coloring of the dry grass, new grass, and light green leaves starting to erupt on the aspen, all backed by the blue of the Cariboo Mountains.

Check out my paintings:

Saturday 9 April 2016

Reading Glasses

    As I age, my eyesight has deteriorated.  I still have excellent far away vision, but everything within an arms length distance has gotten blurry.  My optometrist says I don’t need prescription glasses, “reading glasses will do fine”.   So over the last 10 years I have been buying reading glasses with a passion.
    I read once that during World War II that Coca Cola, with the help of the US government, set the goal that a bottle of Coke should be “within the arm’s reach of any G.I. anywhere in the world.”  I took a similar strategy with reading glasses.   Since I was always needing them, and could never find them, I decided I that I would buy enough of them and spread them throughout the house so that I would always be within an arm’s reach of a pair.
    I now have them available in most of the rooms of our house, and a pair in all of my coats and jackets.
    One of my projects this spring was to make some more vent windows for my greenhouse, because my old ones have rotten away.  I had finished the frames and needed to paint them before I proceeded.  With that in mind, yesterday I drove into McBride to buy some exterior white paint.  
    When I got inside the hardware store, I reached for my reading glasses, but discovered that my spring denim jacket that I had just retrieved from storage, didn’t have any glasses in the pocket.  I found my way to the paint section and strained my eyes over all the cans on the shelf.  I bought the paint and drove home.
    In the afternoon I was tired from our walk around the trail, but I was determined to get my window frames painted.  I went out to the shop, cleared a space on my work bench, laid out the first frame, and got a screw driver to open the can of paint.  When I got it open I was dismayed to discover that instead of the white paint that I thought I bought, I had mistakenly purchased a can of black paint.  
    Today, I will make another trip to town to return the black paint and get some white.  This time I will make sure I have some reading glasses with me.

Take a look at my paintings (done with the use of glasses):

Friday 8 April 2016

Clear Water

    One thing I have always loved about the water in BC is its clarity.  While living in the midwestern US, I found the ponds and rivers to be murky and when I traveled to the West or the North I was always impressed at how clear the water became.  
    My pond is always clear, although the resident muskrat sometimes clouds it up.  This spring there has been no sign of “the rat” as Joan calls it, and the water is very clear.  
    I took this photo of a water lily yesterday.  It is submerged in about 2 feet (60 cm) of water, but if you didn’t notice the reflection of the twig on the upper left you might not know it.  The water lilies are growing rapidly and some have leaves that are starting to break through the surface.

Look at my paintings:

Thursday 7 April 2016

A Pussy Willow Sort of Thing

    I am not exactly sure if the catkin you see above can be officially termed a pussy willow, it looks different from what I usually think of as a pussy willow, but it serves the same function and grows on a willowy sort of bush.  I think the interesting thing about it is just how intricate it is when you look at it up close.  The furry surfaces and hairs on the cone-shaped projections topped with the “V” shaped stigma make it a lot more complicated than you would have guessed with the usual passing glance.  
    Nature is always a whole lot more complex than what you see on the surface.

Take a look at my paintings:

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Hint of Green

    Residents of the Robson Valley can now see the beginning of leaves starting to appear on the aspen trees as our early spring progresses. There are still a lot of leaves to go before the full flush of spring, but the light green hint we see does give us hope and shows us that the universe is unfolding the way it should.

My paintings:

Tuesday 5 April 2016

John Adler's Horse

    When I was recently down in Indiana, I revisited an area in my neighborhood where an abandoned farm used to be, that I often explored as a youth.  The old photo above (taken by Ann Moore) shows the barn that exist there.  Now all of the old buildings have disappeared, but the daffodils still come up every year.  When I mentioned to my uncle that I went down to the old Adler farmstead, he told me an interesting story.
    It seems that John Adler had a horse (no doubt it lived in that barn).  Anyway, one day while out in the field the horse suddenly and unexpectedly died.  John Adler hired a couple of boys to dig a grave and bury the horse where it dropped.  The boys started digging the grave right beside the corpse and it took quite a lot of digging for the boys to make a grave big enough for the horse.   Once dug, they rolled the heavy dead horse into the hole.  
    Unfortunately, the horse landed in the grave on its back, with its legs sticking up.  More unfortunately, the legs stuck up about a foot (30 cm) higher than the ground level.  There was only one way to solve there problem and the boys then had an additional task; they had to saw the horse’s legs off so the whole horse could be buried.

You can see my paintings at:

Monday 4 April 2016

Cartoon: Photo of the Grandkids

    What can I say, its getting harder and harder to see the faces of young people these days.

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Sunday 3 April 2016

A River Runs Through It

    For several springs now I have had a real drainage problem in one corner of my garden.  The spring run off actually bubbles up out of the ground, saturating the soil in this area.  Earlier in the spring when I saw the water was pouring out, I marked the spot with a stake so I would know where the problem originated from.
    A couple of days ago when I planted my peas, I had the rototiller out and in my enthusiasm I got over into that problem corner and my rototiller started to sink, with its wheels turning madly.  I had to manually pull the rototiller free from the muck and decided I had better put off tilling there until it dried up.  A half an hour after getting stuck, I noticed that the holes the tiller had made were already filled with water from the saturated soil.
    I knew that in order to solve the problem had to dig a trench the entire length of the garden to drain the soggy area and give the water someplace to go.  Digging at our place in the spring is not an activity I look forward to.   When moist, our clay soil becomes extremely sticky, leaving big globs of the stuff  clinging to my shovel and boots.  All of the many tree roots that I ran into while digging the trench just added to the frustration.
    I did finally finished the ditch and the water has been running through it along the edge of the garden ever since.  Once I get to the hardware store and buy some drainage pipe and lay it down in the trench, I can cover it up.  Hopefully that will put an end to my soggy garden.

When I am not digging trenches in the clay, I paint.  See my paintings at:

Saturday 2 April 2016

Satiny Mountains

    One of the signs of spring we see in the Robson Valley when the weather warms enough for the snow on the mountains to begin to melt, is a change in appearance of that snow.  When melting begins the snow begins to shine like satin.  I noticed that yesterday as the temperatures climbed to 23C (72F).  The photos shows that satiny effect on the Cariboo Mountains.
    This has been an amazingly early spring for us, weeks ahead of what is normal.  Yesterday I saw my first butterfly of the season and this morning as Skye and I walked around the pond, there was a robin in a tree.

You can view my paintings at:

Friday 1 April 2016

Breaking in to the Bathroom

    A few decades ago, while at a now defunct hardware store, I noticed a sale on antique-looking porcelain door knobs.  I thought they looked attractive and so I bought one for the door of our bathroom.  When I installed it, I was struck by how different the mechanism was from the normal type door knobs that I was familiar with, but I put it in.
    It worked fine for a long time (except that the porcelain was a bit slippery and hard to turn when your hands were a bit wet).  Then I began to notice that the screws inside the mechanism would slowly loosen preventing the door knob from opening the door, and that could cause one to become trapped in the bathroom until you unscrewed the door knob on the bathroom side and re-tightened the screws that held both sides of the door knob together.
    I realized that this potential (to become locked in the bathroom) was a real problem.  I recalled hearing about an older woman who became trapped for days in her bathroom, and I got trapped a couple of times myself, but because I knew how to deal with the situation, no harm was done.  Luckily, I have been the only victim of our deviant door knob.
    Because I am lazy, I didn’t do anything about alleviating the problem, I just kept an eye on the loosening screws and periodically tightened them.
    On Tuesday night when I pulled into the carport, tired from expending so much energy at our jam session, Joan met me at the door.  From the look on her face, I knew that something was up, and she soon explained that the door to the bathroom couldn’t be opened.  
    I surveyed the situation and determined that the screws had loosened, but since I always opened the door knob from the inside of the bathroom and was shut out, I wasn’t sure how to deal with the problem.  I tried to loosen the door knob from the outside and failed.  Joan suggested I try crawling through our narrow bathroom window, but after dragging the step ladder from the garage, I discovered that the window was too narrow for me to get my chest through.
    There seemed only one solution left--break in, so that is what I did.  With a screw driver, I wedged and bent the door knob until it finally snapped away, then I dug out all the metal pieces of the thing and was finally able to open the door.
    I have my fingers crossed that I will be able to find a door knob set that will fit the hole.  I have a nagging suspicion that the porcelain door knob was an oddball size and that means I might have to plug the old hole and remake a new one (Our bathroom door is a odd size and that cannot be easily replaced).  Until I get around to solving the problem, we will have to continue to use the hole in the bathroom door to open and close it. 
    Do these things happen to other people, or just me?

Take a look at my paintings: