Thursday 29 September 2016


    I first heard about the book Plainsong on the jacket of another book.  It favorably compared the novel inside the jacket, to Lonesome Dove and Plainsong.  Years ago, I had been hesitant about reading  Lonesome Dove, thinking it was some shallow, action packed western, but I found it very enjoyable, and a very memorable book.  I especially like the characters in the book.  If Plainsong was referenced along with Lonesome Dove, I wanted to read it.  I went down to the library, found it, and started reading.  It met my expectations.

Plainsong  by Kent Haruf 
          When I first read the title I assumed it referred to some feeling caused by wind blowing across the prairies, but it refers to a simple unadorned melody.  "Simple" and "unadorned" certainly is a good way to describe the writing in this novel, which takes place on the plains of Colorado.
      The book follows several characters, all of which are experiencing major changes in their lives in the small isolated town of Holt, Colorado, and the humanity in which they deal with these changes.  Victoria, a seventeen year old high school student, faces the biggest change. Naively, she finds herself pregnant, and upon hearing the news, her uncaring mother kicks her out of the house for good. 
      Guthrie, a high school teacher, and his two young boys are left without wife and mother when she moves out, no longer able to deal with her life and marriage.  The most memorable characters in the novel are the McPerson brothers, two older men without social skills, who have lived together since adolescence, running a cattle farm, after their their parent's were killed in an accident. Their solitary lives are suddenly changed when they are asked to provide shelter for someone in need.  
      Although unadorned and simple in its storytelling, this is a wonderful and touching novel. Rich in humanity with realistic characters and dialogue. This short little book has become one of my favorites. 

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Wednesday 28 September 2016

Frost on Cabbage

    We got a heavy frost overnight, so that pretty much wipes out the production in our garden.  I took my camera out early this morning to take some photos.  Here are a couple.

You can see my first painting "Cabbage" at

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Empty Highway

    This morning I drove into the hardware store in McBride and I was struck by how empty the highway was.  All of the summer tourist traffic has pretty much dried up, leaving only the locals and transport trucks.  I must confess I don’t mind the emptiness.

You can view all of my paintings:

Monday 26 September 2016

Aspen Clone

    Trembling Aspen populate a good bit of the landscape in our corner of the Robson Valley.  Aspen trees reproduce largely through sending out sprouts from the roots which develop into trees.  As these sprouts mature and spread further, the result is a big area of trees that have exactly the same genetic makeup as the mother tree.  They are clones of the parent.  
    This becomes most evident in the spring and fall when the tree leaves out or the leaves turn color, because all of the trees in the clone react at exactly the same time and have the same coloration.  The largest known clonal colony of aspen is located in Utah and named “Pando.”  Because this colony is basically the same tree, it is considered to be the oldest and heaviest living organism on earth.  It is thought to be 80,000 years old and weighs six million kilograms (6,000 tons).  
      In the photo above you can see a aspen clone with bright yellow foliage in the middle of the picture.

You can view my paintings at:

Sunday 25 September 2016

Making Pies

    Yesterday was the annual apple pie making day for the McBride Library and Museum, who sell the pies to raise funds for the new building.  Scores of volunteers spent the day, peeling apples, slicing apples, mixing apples, measuring dough, rolling dough, constructing pies, and packaging pies for sale.  Henry Ford would approve of our apple pie assembly line.  
    I spent most of the day frustrated at my job of peeling and slicing apples.  Last year the little peeling-slicing-coring machine worked well with the green apples.  This year I was on the table doing red apples which are softer, and the machine just wasn’t working for me.  Apples would slip on the prongs that were supposed to hold them causing the machine to jam and me to take them off, peel, slice, and core them by hand.  Finally I just gave up on the machine totally and just used a paring knife.
    Apple pie making day is always a big social event.  I talked to neighbors and acquaintances, and caught up on all the local news.  I think over 500 apple pies were produced.

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Friday 23 September 2016

The Twins

    Throughout most of their adult life my brothers, who are identical twins, have sported different haircuts.   So while they still looked alike, it wasn’t as obvious as it is now, after they conspired to get  the same haircut.  I must say I was a bit surprised at how identical they still look upon receiving this recent photo from my sister.
    Below are some photos of “The Twins” from the past.

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Wednesday 21 September 2016

Robson Valley Autumn

    Even though Autumn doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, Robson Valley trees are experiencing peak color early.  I showed you some photos a couple of days ago, and here are a more.

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Tuesday 20 September 2016

Bear Feeder Down

    Recently my bird feeder has been working nights providing the neighborhood bear with sunflower seeds.  In the morning when I go out to fill it, I have been finding it beat up, bent, and hanging at odd angles.  Several times I had to bend it back into shape before I filled it.  It is on a pulley and in frustration of the nightly damage, yesterday I pulled it up as high as could hoping to prevent the bear from getting at it.  It didn’t work.
    This morning I found the bird feeder in pieces, two-thirds of it on the ground and the top still dangling from the wire.
    I guess the bear didn’t much like how I had raised it higher.  My next course of action is to just leave it down until the bear goes off to hibernate.

You can see my paintings at:

Monday 19 September 2016

Jervis Road: Fall in Both Directions

    Yesterday afternoon was gray and drizzly and I grumbled when Joan suggested that we should go out and take a walk.  I relented though and I was glad I did.  By the time we got to Jervis Road, our destination, the cloud was breaking up and sunlight was beginning to paint the yellow aspens in strokes of highlight.
    While fall has not officially arrived on the calendar, it has arrived in the Robson Valley and the autumn colors are now at their peak.  I ended up taking 32 photos yesterday, and we saw another photographer out driving around doing the same.
    The photos I am showing today were both taken as we walked down Jervis Road.  They show the road in both directions.

To view my paintings go to:

Sunday 18 September 2016

Visiting My Old Truck

    Yesterday Joan and I went up to Moores’ to attend a memorial potluck for a woman I used to work with at Forestry.  It was a rainy afternoon.  While everyone was standing around eating, Gary Moore came up to me and told me to look up the hill.  There sat my old green truck.  I had given it to Gary after it sat unused in my pasture for many years.   He loves messing around with old vehicles and has it running again.
    It was good to see my old “workhorse” again.  Not only had it been with me during many hours of hauling wood, hay, and building supplies, it has also been an inspiration for four of my paintings (“Truck,” “Patina,” “Tail Light,” and my current painting).  With yesterday’s drizzle, the door of the old GMC had water running down it just like in my “Patina” painting.
    Gary had several other old vehicles parked around the property, and he took me to one of his treasures-- a 1947 Studebaker  truck, with pealing paint and covered with leaves.  I found it a pretty interesting image and will put one of my photos of it in my “Possible Painting” file.
    Below is another photo of it.

You can see my paintings at:

Saturday 17 September 2016

The 19th Wife

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff (Checked out as an eBook from McBride's Library OverDrive site).
         I found this to be a really fascinating novel which deals with Mormon Church history and its over arching practice of plural marriage. It has two storylines that interweave throughout the book, one is historically based and follows the life of Ann Eliza Young, who was wife number 19 (really about number 50) of Brigham Young, the so called "Prophet" of the Latter Day Saints and in following her life reveals the early history of the Mormon Church.
     The novel paints Brigham Young as a brilliant organizer, but a dictatorial "Prophet", who tells his followers God has decreed they all must practice plural marriage.  He uses his power to establish a harem of young women for himself. Ann Eliza, who disliked Brigham Young, is manipulated by his power over her family, to become one of his wives.  
       After years of this marriage, she secretly escapes Utah and in 1873, she  made nationwide news when she divorced Brigham Young and then became an activist who wrote books and gave lectures in an attempt to end the practice of plural marriage. 
       The other storyline of the novel happens in the present day and follows Jordan Scott, who at the age of 14 was driven out to a highway in Utah and dropped off by his mother at the side of the road in the darkness, because, as a member of the "Firsts", (a polygamist offshoot of the Mormon Church) she was told by the "Prophet" her son was excommunicated and for her own salvation, he had to be abandoned.  (Getting rid of adolescent males is a practice common among polygamist sects to insure an abundant supply of young females for the older men.)
        Jordan, now 27 is on the Internet in a Colorado library, reading the news from his childhood community, when he discovers an article that said his mother, the 19th wife of his father, is in prison, for the cold blooded murder of his father with a handgun.  Jordan packs his bags, puts his dog in the van, and drives off to Utah, to visit his mother in prison and see if he can somehow help her. 
     His mother refuses to talk about her husband's death, and remains steadfast about her faith, but insists she loved her husband and didn't kill him.  Jordan then tries to discover what actually happened.  He quietly snoops around the hostile and closed community of the "Firsts" talking to other excommunicated or escaped members of the sect, in an attempt to glean information that might help clear his mother. 
      I found "The 19th Wife" fascinating , both in the history, facts, and curiosities (the strange religious beliefs, sacred underwear, etc) of the Mormon Church, and the modern day storyline which follows Jordan as he tries to learn facts from his childhood community of Firsts, in his attempts to free his mother. 

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Friday 16 September 2016

Still Jammin'

    Some of the best fun I have had in my life has been playing music.  After a long musical hiatus, I was starving and so three years ago, I started an open jam at the McBride Library annex.  It has been a very fluid affair with players coming and going, but I am happy to report that there is still music being played every Tuesday night and for me it is still the highlight of the week.
    Above is a photo of the last week’s participants.  From left to right they are:  Me (mandolin, guitar, & vocals), Dorothy Simpson (lap steel guitar), Elsie Stanley (accordion), Eunice Wentz (keyboard), Nadia Kovarik (tambourine), Lennie Dovich (washtub bass), and Len McCarty (electric bass, vocals).
    The songs we play are chosen by whoever shows up and covers a wide spectrum of genres.  Bluegrass, blues, pop, country and western, & folk, written by everyone from Boxcar Willie, Chuck Berry, John Prine, Woody Guthrie, George Gershwin, and the Beatles.  Over the years we have put together a songbook of the songs we do and at present there are over 100 songs in the books.  The notebooks have both lyrics and chords, so its easy of newcomers to join in.  Recent additions include “Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)” and “Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight,” as you can see, there is quite a range.
    Part of the fun of the jam is that I never know who, what instruments, or songs are going to show up, so it is constantly changing.  Sometimes locals drop by to sing along, and sometimes we have tourists come just to watch a listen.  Only four sleeps until our next jam.

You can see my paintings:

Thursday 15 September 2016

Hey, There's a Frog

    The other day we were at Horseshoe Lake and, as always, I was looking for something to photograph.  I noticed the patterns of the aquatic grasses and the duckweed, and thought that was an interesting image, so took several shots.
    I was standing in the gazebo, with my camera about 12 ft (4 m.) above the water so as I looked through the small eye piece I couldn’t see much detail in the images I took.  When I got home and looked at the photos on the big screen of my computer, I noticed that in some of them there was a frog partially covered with duckweed.  That was a nice surprise.

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Wednesday 14 September 2016

Vanished Railroad Stations

    The interior of BC was built and settled on the back of the railroads.  The railroad established repair shops, camps and stations at fixed points along the line.  The bigger repair centers and stations attracted people and became villages and cities (McBride was a divisional center and featured a big railway repair shop and turntable),  The smaller stations with the smaller populations struggled to exist.  
    As the railroads changed, most of these smaller stations were no longer needed and in the 1970’s and 80’s, CN Rail burned them down, often without telling the people that lived in the area.  The photo above shows the station that once stood at Goat River.  I happened across it one day while working in the area for the BC Forest Service.  Months later I had heard that CN had burned it down to relieve themselves of the responsibility and liability of the unused building.
    Below, is the station at Avola, BC.  One morning while we lived there, we saw smoke and discovered that the building had been purposely burned down.
    Luckily, the Village of McBride was able to save the railway station that sits at the end of Main Street.  That classic looking railway station still functions as a railroad station and also as a vibrant restaurant, and gallery.

You can see my paintings at:

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Colored Trees

    Okay, these aren’t exactly “knock your socks off” brilliant fall colors on these trees, but I really like the subtle differences in shades of color that these trees are offering.  We don’t get reds and oranges in the Robson Valley, mostly yellows, but I am suspecting a more brilliant display as the autumn progresses.

Check out my paintings:

Monday 12 September 2016

Snowy Mountains

    The mountains that border the Robson Valley are sporting some fresh snow after a cool, wet, weekend in the valley bottom.  Above is the white Mt. Lucille, below, a photo of part of the Premier Range, at the back end of the Raush Valley.

You can see my paintings at:

Sunday 11 September 2016

Remembering 9-11

    Everyone remembers where they were 15 years ago, when they first heard what was going on in what is now called “9-11”   Here is what I wrote in my diary on that day:

Sept. 11/01 Tues. (A day to remember)
When the clock radio went off this morning at 7:00, the first thing we heard was that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center in NYC.  This was personally interesting since we had visited and been to the top of the World Trade Center almost exactly 6 months ago, in March.  Then we heard a 2nd plane had rammed the other tower.  We turned on the TV and ate our breakfast, by then the Pentagon was hit by a plane.
    I had to force myself to leave the TV reports to go to work, while all this was happening, but did.  I listened to my pocket radio as I pedaled my bike to the office.  I had my earplugs on listening to the CBC as it reported the disaster.   I was on the highway at the area between the McBride frontage roads when they reported that the first tower had collapsed.   I couldn’t help but utter, “Aww, no,” out loud.
    I was then in shell shock for the rest of the day.  Listening to the radio at work as one event after another unfolded; the 2nd tower collapsed, and another hijacked plane crashed in Pennsylvania.  The news was full of other reports of other suspect aircraft flying around.  Planes from all over the world were being forced to make emergency landings in Canada.  I got very little work done.
    Everyone else at our forestry office was stunned too.  In the afternoon the District Manager had the whole staff gather in the foyer of the office and in a big circle we had a moment silence for the disaster that was unwinding  in the US.   Construction workers continued to build our new space in the Forestry Office which added to the chaos of the day.
    Spent the night watching TV reports about the Twin Tower Attack.  

    The photo is from March, 2001

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Saturday 10 September 2016

Carly Simon

    I have been listening to a lot of Carly Simon music lately.  I had never owned any of her albums, but always liked her songs when I heard them on the radio.  I recently finished reading her memoir, Boys in the Trees and that made me want to explore her music more.  Here is a review I did on the book.

Boys in the Trees, a memoir  by Carly Simon
     I decided to make a departure from all the fiction I generally read and try a nonfiction book for a change. I went online to the library's OverDrive site and while I browsed through the section of nonfiction books, this book about Carly Simon caught my eye so I downloaded it. 
     The songs and the vibrant music scene of the 1960's and 1970's have always been a passion so I was curious to see what someone, like Carly Simon, who lived in the midst of it, had to say about it. I didn't know a whole lot about Carly, but the things I did know we're pretty interesting. 
      I knew her parents were fairly well off (her father was the creator of the Simon & Schuster publishing empire) and that as a child Carly was taught baseball by Jackie Robinson, while he was staying with her family after all of their neighbors conspired to prevent him from buying a house in the neighborhood.  I also knew she married James Taylor, one of my favorite singer/songwriters.  And of course I knew Carly to be a very creative singer/songwriter herself, but didn't know much more about her life. 
     Carly's childhood was not an easy one, despite her well positioned family. After two daughters, they were eagerly awaiting a son, but got another girl.  Since they couldn't use the planned boy name "Carl," they added a "Y" to the end and named their daughter “Carly”.  Her two lovely older sisters were adored and she was largely ignored and felt unloved by her parents, causing her to develop an inferiority complex and this was re-enforced as a child because she stuttered badly.   
      She could sing, and during folk revival of the early 1960's she and a sister formed a duo and they played gigs in New York's City's Folk Clubs as the "Simon Sisters".  This set her up for the career as a singer/songwriter. 
      One of the things I found most interesting about Carly's life was all of the other popular singers and stars of the era that she met and knew: Sean Connery, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Paul and Linda McCartney, The Band, Kris Kristofferson, Cat Stevens, and many many more are a few of the names that pop up in the memoir.  Parts of the book are like a gossip column as she tells about what they did, but gossip or not, I found it interesting. 
     One of the memorable stories she tells is about her fling with Warren Beatty, who she describes as an outrageously beautiful man who no woman could resist, but also a man that knew his power over women and exploited it with skill. At one point in their relationship, he told her he couldn't make it to her apartment until after 11:00 pm because of business and had to leave before 5:00 am the next morning. 
    He did arrive and leave at those times, spending the night. The following day Carly had an appointment with her psychiatrist and during the session told him about her night with Warren. This somewhat disturbed the doctor who then confessed that earlier that morning he had a session with another female patient who had also told him she had just spent the night with Warren Beatty. 
     Beatty was exposed and was exposed further later on when it became known that Carly's best selling song, "You're So Vain" was based on Warren Beatty. 
     I was of course very interested in finding out about her and James Taylor, and must confess that what she said certainly took some of the shine off of one of my musical favorites.  He, like Carly, carried a lot of emotional baggage.  Living the life of a celebrity and entertainer with being on the road and all the temptations of stardom might sound glamorous, but it destroyed not only their marriage, but many of others. 
     This book is full of interesting stories that touch on the everyday lives of really well known celebrities, which I enjoyed reading about, but at times, Carly gave information that seemed a bit too personal--things that I really didn't need to know.  
       Boys in the Trees is a light, easy, and entertaining read. 

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Friday 9 September 2016

Virginia Creeper

    While most of the trees and smaller plants around our house are slowly adorning their autumn colors, our Virginia Creeper has thrown off its “creeping” mode and jumped full force into their autumn red.  Years ago I did a painting of this Virginia Creeper that was just starting to turn.  You can see it below.

You can see all of my paintings at:

Thursday 8 September 2016

Spruce Grouse Feathers

    The other day at dusk, I was sitting at the computer and Joan was in the living room when there was a loud thud that got our attention.  It took a while to determine just where the sound came from, but on our front porch Joan found the still body of a Spruce Grouse, a chicken-like bird that lives in the bush.  It had flown hard against our kitchen window at great speed and had broken its neck.
    I picked it up hoping it was just stunned, but it was dead.  As I held the soft warm body in my hand,  I noticed the beautifully intricate design of its feathers, and before I took the corpse out to the end of the pond, hoping it would feed some wildlife, I took some photos.

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Wednesday 7 September 2016

We Beat the Bear

    Over the last couple of days I have been blogging about how, in the fall, the bears always seem to take all of our tree fruit before we have a chance to pick it.  Its amazing how many times I have told myself, “Tomorrow, I am going to pick the apples,” then have woken up the next morning to find all of the apples on the tree gone, and the tree torn to pieces.
    Finally, this year, we beat the bear to the fruit, and it was a bumper year for the apples and plums on our trees.  Above you see some of what we got.  
    I am not without sympathy for the bears, they are desperate to load up on food in the fall to get them through their winter hibernation.  They have been busy stripping the bushes in the woods of their berries, but I wanted to give them a bit of what we had on our trees, so I put some apples out on a hay pile at the end of our pond for them.  
    The very next day, the apples had all disappeared.

You can view my paintings at:

Tuesday 6 September 2016

The Neighborhood Bear

    On Sunday we were about to pull out of our driveway onto the road, when we noticed that the neighborhood bear was walking across the road and just about to enter the woods on our side.  Seeing the bear is always be a worrying situation, especially this time of year.  It is not fear of the bear itself that is worrying so much as what the hungry beast might do to our fruit trees.  
    Usually the bear does its marauding at night, so we continued on down the road to take our dog on a walk.  As soon as I got back home, I picked up a bucket and made a beeline to our plum and apple trees ready to pick all of the fruit so that would not be a temptation to the bear, because this year our trees are really loaded.

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Monday 5 September 2016

Cat Fight Solves Mystery

    Yesterday I was in the garage and I noticed that the apples I had picked from the apple tree in our yard, that had been in a shallow basket, were sprawled out across the floor.  I figured a squirrel must have gotten in and knocked the basket over.  A few of the apples were half eaten.
    I had picked the tree clean because usually in the fall bears come for the apples and end up thrashing the tree.  I stored the collected apples in the garage to keep them safe.
    I then noticed that our plastic garbage can, that was also in the garage for the same reason, had been overturned and was laying, lid off and empty, on the floor.
    I asked Joan, “Didn’t we have a bag of garbage in the can?”  She also thought we did, but there was no full bag of garbage in the garage to be seen, so I thought we were mistaken.
    Early this morning Joan yelled to me, “There is a cat fight out in the woods.”  (She had earlier let Lucifer, our cat, out to galavant.)  
    We both went outside and called, “Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty, “ which is what we usually do in such cases.  Lucifer doesn’t come immediately, because of the dangerous situation she is in, but shortly thereafter, she does return.
    I went back in the house, but Joan, who was more concerned, stayed out and went to look  for Lucifer.  Then she came in and told me she had solved the mystery of the missing garbage-- it was spread all along a path in the woods.
    It seemed like something bigger than a squirrel had been in our garage, it also seemed like the work of a bear.  I then remembered that the other day I had left the door to the garage open for most of the day.   Had a bear gone in the garage, checked things out, and then dragged the garbage bag out into the woods?  It seemed unlikely, but I couldn’t think of any other plausible scenario.  
    Lucifer came home, and after breakfast I went out to look at the trail of garbage and investigate.  Sure enough there was a definite trail of trash scattered along a path leading into the bush.  I had taken a bag along and picked up the pieces as I walked.  Then I came to a big splat of bear poop in the middle of the line of trash, so that pretty much confirmed to me who the culprit in our garage had been.
    I am glad that Joan or I hadn’t walked into the garage while the bear was checking things out and from now on, I am going to make sure the door is latched every time I leave the garage.

You can see my paintings at:

Sunday 4 September 2016

There's Got to be a Rainbow

    Yesterday as we were getting ready to take Skye for her walk, the sun was blasting down, and so was the rain.  Those are the two things you need for a rainbow, so I was in hopes of seeing one.  When we got to our destination I was not disappointed.

My paintings can be viewed at:

Saturday 3 September 2016

Battle on a Flower

    In June of 1978, I happened upon a battle between a big yellow spider and a bee that was being played out on the petals of what I think is a strawberry flower.  I don’t remember any of the details, and had forgotten all about this photo until I was going through my box of old slides.  
    There are constantly life and death struggles going on around us that we are totally unaware of.

My paintings:

Friday 2 September 2016

Jervis Road Bluffs

    Here are shots I took of the bluffs that lie along Highway 16, east of McBride, in the area of Jervis Road.  There was just a bit of sunlight shining down between the clouds yesterday that was highlighting the aspens on the bluff that are just starting to turn their autumn yellow.  That is Beaver Mountain behind it.

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Thursday 1 September 2016

Cartoons, Not as Funny as Reality

    When I do a cartoon, I try to think of something relevant to the times, and then try to dream up a situation and exaggerate it to the point where I think it is funny.  A few weeks ago I drew the cartoon above, thinking about texting and driving (which I think is absurd enough) then stretching it so the guy is not texting, but playing Pokemon Go.  This I thought was so far fetched it would be humorous.
    I guess I underestimated humankind and the things they will do, because I just learned that there was an incident where a man was playing Pokemon while driving, but instead of being stopped by the police, he actually smashed into a police car.
    One can only shake his head.
    This happened on July 19, 2016 in New Jersey.  You can Google it if you need to know more.

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