Tuesday 30 August 2016

Sea Star Wasting Disease

    I haven’t been able to take any interesting photos lately, so in desperation, I started looking through my box of old slides to see if I could find anything to blog about.  I came upon this photo of a starfish I took in 1975 and it reminded me of something that is tragically effecting to sea stars all along the Pacific Coast of North America--they are all being killed by some unknown pathogen.  
    Back in 1973 when we first traveled to Vancouver Island we were fascinated by the rocky shoreline of the Pacific and all of the life that lived in the intertidal zone.  Big orange and purple starfish clung to the aquatic plants when the tide went out.  There were hundreds of them.  I had never seen sea stars except in photos and was surprised to see that many had more “arms” than just the five I suspected.  That is why I took this photo of this giant.
    I have been hearing on the news that sea stars are now disappearing at a very alarming pace.  Their body parts just start to dissolve and they die.  It spreads from one to another, and can’t be stopped.  This was first noticed in Sept 2013 on the B.C. coast, but it is occurring from Alaska to the Baja.  
    Scientists haven’t been able to figure out exactly what is killing them, but think it is some kind of virus-like organism that has taken hold because of the warming temperatures of the ocean.  It is the cold water on the Pacific Coast of BC that holds more oxygen which enables the abundance of sea life here.  
    This is yet another example of how, bit by bit, the diversity of wildlife is being eliminated by global warming.  I’m sure you have heard of similar examples where ever you live, things you used to see that are no longer there.

Check out my paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Monday 29 August 2016

Keeping to the Schedule

    It seems that these crows keep to a pretty tight schedule.  Last year on August 23rd I blogged that a big mass of crows were gathering at Koeneman Park in preparation for their migration south.  This year, during the same week, its happening again (the photo above was taken on Aug. 26th.)  
    We are sliding into the autumn season.  The hummingbirds that breed, nest, and spend their summer in the Robson Valley always leave in the first two weeks of August, and I haven’t seen one since.  
    It is not only the animals that are beginning to feel the fall,  as the days become noticeably shorter, I am feeling more like I want to hibernate.

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

Sunday 28 August 2016

Paws Curled Up

    I find the way that our cat Lucifer curls up her paws when she rests, very endearing for some reason.  I couldn’t resist taking a photo during the cuteness of the moment.  She can be a real terror at times, but she also is very affectionate if you don’t push her too hard.

My paintings are on display at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Saturday 27 August 2016

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes

     Always on the lookout for a good historical novel, I noticed the picture of the big English mansion and horse drawn carriage on the cover of this book on the "New Arrival" bookcase in the McBride library.  When I saw that the author was Julian Fellows, I grabbed the book and headed for the checkout.  Julian Fellowes wrote "Downton Abby" which was one of my favorite TV shows while it was on.  
     I was not disappointed when I started reading the book.  It was a book I devoured in big chunks, so eager I was to see what happens to the characters in this novel, as love, bloodlines, jealousy, and greed begin to force their way into the strict hierarchy of British society in the 17th Century.  I found the storyline well-paced and the characters, all jostling for their own interests, to be well developed. 
    It was a novel that left me irritated every time I was forced to quit reading, because I had something else I had to do.   I was always so anxious to see what was going to happen next as the story unwound. 
     Although most of the novel takes place in England, it begins in Brussels, where Napoleon is on the doorsteps of capturing f the English-held city. Sophia  Trenchard, daughter of an important merchant who holds a critical position in supplying Wellington's army, is in love with the handsome Lord Bellasis.  Despite their class differences, their romance has resulted in an invitation to a ball put on by the a Duchess, Lord Bellasis's aunt. 
     Both of the couple's families are concerned about the romance because of the class differences and are eager to see it ended.  During the ball, Lord Bellasis, as well as the rest of the military men attending, are forced to leave and head for a small town named Waterloo, in order to stop the advancing Napoleon. Bellasis is killed in the conflict. 
     The next chapter begins 30 years later and when I read that Sophia had also died in the year after Lord Bellasis's death, I was left dismayed and wondering where this novel could possibly go, since its two main characters were both dead, but I shouldn't have worried because Julian Fellowes had just set things up so he could explode a bombshell that would have both the aristocratic Bellasis and the now-wealthy Trenchard households reeling and scheming.          
     Belgravia is a masterfully written tale that I am sorry to have finished reading, because it was so entertaining.

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

Friday 26 August 2016

Heron at the River

    Yesterday was our monthly book club meeting at the library.  Since I didn’t have to carry anything back or forth I decided to take the bike into McBride.  I am ashamed to admit that this was only the second time all year I have pedaled my bicycle the 5 miles (8 kms) into town.  
    When I was crossing the bridge across the Fraser River I noticed this lone Great Blue Heron out in the shallows.  I have seen a pair of herons a few times during the summer down at this spot, so I always keep an eye out for them when I drive across the bridge.  It was nice being on the bike because I could stop and take a picture.

My paintings are on view at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Thursday 25 August 2016

Horses in the Field

    Here is another shot taken from Horseshoe Lake Road, just outside of McBride.  After a rainy overcast day, in the evening the clouds began to break up causing some rapidly changing sunlit features moving across the landscape.

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

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Pine Beetle & Whitebark Pine

    The warming of BC’s climate has already led to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of hectares of Lodgepole Pine trees.  I blogged about this in March of this year:

    I have also blogged about the Whitebark Pine, which is a tree that grows in the high elevation of our local mountains:

    I don’t know for sure, but I fear that the Pine Beetle has moved in and started to kill the Whitebark Pine that is growing on Teare Mountain, right across from McBride.  The other day I noticed the first hints of reddish hue among the carpet of trees as I looked up from the valley floor.  In the past when I noticed such a color it meant that the trees have started dying.  They will become redder as time passes.  You might be able to make out the hint of red from this photo.
    If this is the case, it will be a sad event because the Whitebark is already a threatened species.  There is really nothing that can be done for the trees once an attack like this begins.  
    I once heard that diversity in nature is like rivets in an airplane.  The plane can be flying along and you can start pulling rivets out and the plane will continue to fly for a while, but if the rivets continue to disappear, eventually you will lose one rivet too many, and down you go.
     Whitebark pine will not be the last rivet, but it’s sad to see this slow motion decline in our natural environment, and I find it really scary.

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

Tuesday 23 August 2016

God Speakth to McBride

    In an earlier blog I wrote about how whenever I see rays of light streaming down from the sky, I always think of those religious pictures where God is speaking to someone.  That is what seemed to be going on yesterday evening when Joan and I were driving toward McBride to walk the dog.  I haven’t heard yet who was being spoken to.

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

Monday 22 August 2016

Painting the House

    One of the projects I set for myself this summer was to paint our house.  This has been something we have been thinking about for probably 5 years.  Our house has been “Spruce Green” which is a darker shade of green on the bluish side, for a couple of decades, and we wanted to lighten the color a bit, but Joan and I could never agree on a color, so the job remained undone.  
    Early this spring we made ourselves decide on a color and that color was “Sage Green” and decided on “Channel Blue” for trim.   It was amazingly scary for us to make such a big change after living so long with the way it was, and not knowing exactly what it was going to look like with the new color,  but, we went ahead and bought all of the paint and so we were committed.
    I hired a friend of ours to help me with the painting and it is now done, except for a window that needed replacing and hasn’t arrived yet from the hardware store.
    Our new color is not that drastically different from the old, and most people probably won’t even notice the change, but we are very happy with the new color and are still a bit surprised when we see the house, since lived so long with “Spruce Green”.  It will be interesting to see how it looks in the winter in all of the snow.

I also paint pictures, see them at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Sunday 21 August 2016

Poppy Seed Pod

    After the brilliant red satin-like pedals of the poppy flower fall off, the plant is left with this interesting looking seed pod that is full of those tiny black spherical poppy seeds.  I thought this seed pod looked nice against the big zucchini leaves.  You can see a few of the red discarded poppy pedals laying in the one leaf.

My paintings are on display at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Saturday 20 August 2016

Wow, Two Planes

    As I have commonly blogged, we often walk Skye at the McBride airfield.  We walk down the tarmac and back.  It gives us good views of the Robson Valley, and its better than walking on a road because there is no traffic.  It is rare that there is any air traffic either.  We watch the runway lights which go on if there is an aircraft, and of course listen for any sounds of an airplane in the area.
    We were surprised yesterday when we pulled up to the airfield to see a small plane sitting there and two men standing beside it.  When I got out of the car I asked them if they would be taking off soon.  They said they had just landed and were wanting to go into McBride for a coffee.  They asked me if there were any taxis.  I told them no and then they asked how far it was to walk and I told them 10-15 minutes.  
    I then offered to drive them into town while Joan and Skye started on their walk.  They had never been into McBride and I must say our small village looked good on such a beautiful day.  I dropped them off at The Beanery at the Train Station and drove back and rejoined Joan.
    As we were walking back on the runway, we heard, then saw a float plane circling for a landing so we  walked over to the grassy area beside the tarmac and watched the plane land.  They had been camping at Azure Lake and were looking for airplane fuel.  
    As we got back to the car we were full of amazement at what had happened:  Two planes on the same morning-- a real “Red Letter Day” for our lonely airfield.  

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

Friday 19 August 2016

Community Pasture

    I don’t know if our dog Skye was bored with walking along the river, but I was hankering for a change of scenery, so yesterday I drove up the road and took her to the Community Pasture.  It is a huge open area so you get a panoramic view of the Robson Valley.   The photo shows the scene as you look toward the Dore River Valley with Mt. Lucille on the left.
    There are a lot of bluebird houses scattered around the pasture, and they must have done well this year because as we walked along the road there was a lot of activity with the bluebirds flitting from tree to tree and swooping above the pasture.  Male Mountain Bluebirds are a beautiful shade of blue especially in the spring, but even this time of year it was a treat to see them.

My paintings are on view at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Thursday 18 August 2016

Purple Poppy

    I have poppies growing throughout our vegetable garden, but they are all red in color.  The other day when we went to McBride’s Community Garden to water Joan’s box, I noticed this purple/magenta poppy growing in someone’s garden box.  It was a striking image the way the sunlight was highlighting it and this is the photo I took.

Visit www.davidmarchant.ca to view my paintings.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Early Signs of Fall

    Yesterday, Joan and I had to do the drive up to Prince George.  Along the way I stopped, got out of the car, and took this photo.  
    “That’s going to be a pretty boring picture,”  Joan told me when I got back into the car. 
    I couldn’t argue with her, because the drive up to PG is pretty boring unless you see a wild animal along Hwy. 16.   The point of the photo was not to show off some amazing scenery, it was to show something that I have been noticing--the trees are starting to turn.  All of our deciduous trees turn yellow in the autumn and already, in the middle of August, they are starting to slowly shift the hue of their leaves from green toward yellow.
    It seems early.  It makes me wonder if the “lifespan” of leaves just have a certain number of days, and since our spring started a month early, maybe their  scheduled time to start changing is now, I really don’t have any other explanation of to why its happening so early.

Check out my paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Monday 15 August 2016

Olympics--Enough Already.

    I am not a fan of the Olympics.  I am too political and see the Olympic organization as a rich man’s club that exploits athletes and host cities so the Olympic Committee can rake in the cash, so I purposely don’t watch it.  (Did you know that host cities are required to have a special traffic lane set aside, just for the Olympic Committee members to use?)  
    As the cartoon implies it is extremely hard to avoid the Olympics even if you really try.   Here in Canada, the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp) paid a huge amount of money to get the broadcast rights for “The Games” (a registered trademark to be used only by those corporations who pony up the money to the Olympic Committee) and so the CBC is saturating the radio and TV with Olympic coverage.  All of the hype started long before the actual thing started, and I am sure after it has ended we will be getting all kinds of shows about its highlights.
    I listen to CBC radio daily, and now everything I listen to is interrupted with “Updates” about which Canadians won, or lost, and how their parents or hometown communities are reacting.  The other day I was listening to the radio to a distraught mother who had just begun to tell about her addicted daughter and the trouble she was having trying to find help, when suddenly there was the blare of trumpets and she was replaced by an Olympic Update.
    The CBC main channel is naturally full of the Olympics, so I try the CBC 24 hour “news” channel, a place where you might expect to hear news, but again the first 5 stories are taken up  by, you guessed it--the Olympics, then after a brief summary of actual news, they go back to Olympic fluff pieces.  Even though I have really tried to avoid it, I know all of the Olympic stories, just be because it is impossible to escape it.  I know all about who won, who was a disappointment, the green swimming pool, the booed Russians, the athlete that got robbed--Please, just give me a break. 
    I realized that many people enjoy watching the Olympics.  Joan likes to have it on while she quilts, but she is continually upset too, but for her, its because of what sports are covered and what are not.  
    Sorry for being such a grump, but it ought to be said that not everyone out there is enamored by the Olympics. 


You can see my paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Sunday 14 August 2016

Alpine Flowers from Mt. Lucille

    I haven’t taken any new photos over the last couple of days, so I thought I would show you two of the alpine flowers growing between rocks, that I saw on last Sunday’s Hike up Mt. Lucille.  Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of either one, but even without knowing what they are, I think they are still worth a look.

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

Saturday 13 August 2016

Mt. Lucille Repeater

    As the astronauts got closer they came upon a large metallic cylindrical object seemingly some kind of communications device complete with solar panel and antennae.  Obviously, they were not the first beings to come to this far away place.

    It always seems a bit jarring to see something like this repeater, alone and isolated, on some mountain peak after trudging so far away from “civilization” on a hike.  They are part of a system that picks up and resends telephone, radio, or TV signals through the mountains regions of B.C.  In flat areas tall towers do this work, but around here it is easier just to put them on the top of mountains.
    The one you see in the photo is on the peak just south and east of Mt. Lucille.  I don’t know what signals this one receives and transmits, but none of us hikers got fried by the waves.

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

Friday 12 August 2016

Deer in the Grass

    In the evening as I walked Skye down Horseshoe Lake Road, I spotted this young buck, silent and still, watching us as we proceeded down the road. 

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

Thursday 11 August 2016

My Latest Painting: "Lettuce"

    A few days ago I completed my painting “Lettuce”.  It was based on a photo I took in Jackie Edward’s garden of a variety of lettuces.  I liked the range of textures and colors in the image.  The painting is 24 in. X 36 in. and was done with acrylic on canvas.  It took me 180 hours to paint.
    I immediately started on my next painting and you can watch my progress, painting a square a day, on the “Current Work” section of my website.  I will not tell you what the subject is, you’ll just have to guess after I get enough squares done to give you a clue.

You can see my "Current Work" section on my website:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Lichens of Mt. Lucille

    The upper parts of Mt. Lucille are rock.  You have to carefully traverse over rip-rap, and rockslides, so you have to keep your eyes on what you are stepping on.  As a result you see a lot of lichen on the aging rock as you travel.  Lichen are about the only life form that are tough enough to live on the extreme conditions of dry, nutrient poor, and cold, found on the surface of rock in the alpine.  Here are some photos of a few that I found interesting.  The one above reminded me of native petroglyphs or maybe eyes. 


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

Monday 8 August 2016

Mt. Lucille Hike

    After a few weeks of chickening out on hikes because of bad weather or hikes that I thought were too strenuous, I joined the Ozalenka Alpine Club for a hike up Mt Lucille, which is the pointy mountain you can see from the McBride townsite.  I have been up there many times, but on this trip, once we got to the top of Lucille, we were going to hike over to the next peak, something I had never done before.
    In the photo above you can see the group that made it to the top.  As is usually the case, I found the hike to be a tough grunt, but at least with Lucille, you can drive up to alpine and begin the struggle there, instead of having to fight all the way from the bottom.  I was going to talk about how hard the hike to the top was, but as you can see there were a couple of children along.  Misha, the little 5 year old girl in the pink hat, made it all the way to the top on her own legs, so I guess that sort of negates my complaining.
    We hiked about 6.6 km (4.3 miles) having to gain about 1500 ft (460 m) in elevation.  After getting to the top of Lucille we did hike over to the next peak that had a radio repeater perched on top of it, then back to Lucille and down the east ridge to the big lake in the alpine meadow, after which we had to climb back to where we started from, the snowmobile cabin.  The hike took us about 4.5 hours.
    The hikers fared better than the two vehicles that took us to the snowmobile cabin.  One over heated on the way up and we had to ride in the back of the remaining pickup.  Then on our trip home, once we got to Highway 16, the second truck had a flat tire.
    Below is a photo from Google Earth showing our hiking route.  In the bottom photo you can see the small dot sticking up on the peak at the far left.  That was the repeater that we hiked to.

Visit www.davidmarchant.ca to see my paintings.

Saturday 6 August 2016

What Could This Be?

    The other day when I went to the post office to pick up the mail and found a card in our post office box that said I had a parcel.  The previous week I had ordered a new electric toothbrush so I figured that must be what had arrived.  I gave the card to the postmistress and she walked into the back room and came out carrying a huge big cardboard box (see photo above).
    I wracked my brain trying to figure out what it could be in the big box.  It wasn’t heavy.  I couldn’t think of anything that I had ordered or imagine anything that anyone would send me that that could be so big.  I took the box, drove home and quickly opened it to see what was in it.
    Amazingly, it was my electric toothbrush.  Talk about excessive packaging.  Below is what was in the giant cardboard box, beside a lot of stuffing to protect it.

Check out my paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Friday 5 August 2016

Orchard House

    When I heard about the orchard in the middle of nowhere I also heard that two of the Robson Valley’s top designers and builders were making a house for the owner and I was curious to see what the house looked like.  It is not yet finished, when I was there the electrician and dry wallers were still hard at work.    Here are a couple of photos of the place, for all of those other curious locals.

You can view my photo-realistic paintings at:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Thursday 4 August 2016

Apple Orchard in the WIlderness

    For a couple of years I have been hearing about a guy who was planting thousands of apple trees out in the middle of the bush across the Fraser River near Crescent Spur.  It seemed to me to be a crazy idea, after experiencing the yearly damage we get on the apple trees in our front yard, from hungry  bears.  After I heard he had made a tall fence around the orchard, it sounded a bit more feasible, but still it seemed a strange idea.
    Yesterday, I had an opportunity to see the 35,000 apple trees.  Yep, 35,000.   I got a little more information about the scheme too. The property belongs to a man that owns a business that manufactures smokers (wood burning ovens used to smoke meat).  He has a duel purpose for growing apple trees:   The apples will be used for making cider, and the tree will also be used for producing apple wood that can be sold for use in the smokers.
    The operation is certainly not a Mickey Mouse one, as you can see from the photos, the trees and orchard are well planned and managed in a professional manner.  It was a surprising thing to see after driving many kilometers through the bush, down a bumpy dirt road.

My paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Joan's Olympic Bread

    The Olympics are just about to begin, so in honor of that event, Joan baked this bread in the shape of a discus.  Actually, she didn’t use any white flour in the dough this time and it failed to rise, but we had better stick with the Olympic story.

You can see my paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Tuesday 2 August 2016

Memories of Bob Matchett

    I got the sad news yesterday that Bob had died.  It did not come as a surprise because he had been gravely ill for several months, but still it set me back.
    I hadn’t known Bob for very long.  Although I think he had been kicking around the Robson Valley for many years, I had not met him until 2013 when I was hungry to play music and heard about a jam at the McBride Curling Club Lounge and forced myself to go.  There were only 4 of us that came to play, Bob was the friendly, tall, lanky guy with a dobro.  Right away I liked him and we and others began to meet periodically after that to play.      
    One of the best legacies that one can leave behind is a slew of good memories and although I did know him for very long or very well, Bob Matchett left me with a lot of those.  I always thought he just played the guitar and dobro and during one jam at his house he invited us up to see “his drums” .  I reluctantly climbed the steps to the upstairs room, not expecting much and was totally gobsmacked at what I saw.  He had a drum set bigger than anything I had ever seen.  He sat down and made the room shutter as he demonstrated his skills.
    Joan and I were invited to his wedding at the Ancient Forest and it turned out to be the nicest wedding I have ever attended.
    When I started the Tuesday Night Jam at the library, it was always a treat when Bob (who had to drive in from Dunster) showed up with his guitar, dobro, and hand written notebook full of lyrics.  He liked the same kind of music as I did and introduced me to a lot of songs I didn’t know.  I will always remember him, face all red, as he was singing his heart out and straining to hit the high notes.  
    Tonight at the jam if we play “Evangeline”, “In a Town this Size”, “My Darlin’ Hometown” and “Sonny’s Dream”, I will be remembering Bob with a lot of sad, but warm feelings.

You can see my paintings:  www.davidmarchant.ca

Monday 1 August 2016

Poppies Among the Vegetables

    When we bought our place back in 1977, there must have been some red poppies seeds in the garden.  They popped up and every year since they continue to re-seed and come up like weeds.  I like to have them scattered throughout the garden even though they sometimes crowd out some of what I actually plant.   Whenever I weed the garden, I leave a lot of the tiny poppy plants to grow.  The photo shows the result of those allowances.
     You can spot some of them growing in my garden in my painting “Garden”.

You can see my painting "Garden" at:  www.davidmarchant.ca