Friday 31 March 2017

Grouse in the Window

    I know that I wrote about seeing a grouse just 4 days ago, but yesterday afternoon as I was sitting in the living room, a grouse flew up and instead of slamming into the glass, managed to land and perch on the window sill.    This has never happened before, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to record the event for posterity. 

My painting can be seen at:

Thursday 30 March 2017

Wow, Our BCRIC Shares

    Last night I was trying to clean out our filing cabinet by throwing out all the obsolete papers that we no longer needed.  It’s amazing how many insignificant old documents we have been hanging on to.  I bet Joan has every salary receipt she ever received during her decades of teaching.  Anyway, in one of the file folders I found our BCRIC shares.
    Back in 1979 just before a Provincial Election, the governing Social Credit Government (the hardcore capitalist, resource extraction party and ancestor of our present BC Liberal Party) came up with an idea to buy votes.  They decided to privatize a lot of the things the citizens of BC owned as part of their government, then having made a corporation out of them, gave each citizen 5 shares of the corporation.  They told everyone, that BCRIC was going to be a real money maker for stockholders and put a lot of shares out for people who really wanted to get rich so they could buy some more.
    Things really didn’t work out as well as all the hype because BCRIC shares soon became worthless.  The only people that got rich off of them were the winos down on Skid Row that sold their 5 shares immediately.  
    It would be nice, if like in all those movies, you find some old shares of some stock in the bottom of a trunk and now they are worth millions, but that ain’t going to happen with BCRIC shares.  I wonder if the museum is interested in 10 shares.

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Wednesday 29 March 2017

Fab, An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney by Howard Sounes

                After I heard that we were supposed to be reading biographies for the McBride Library’s Book Club, I started looking through the many eBooks that could be downloaded from the library's Overdrive site.  I was tempted by the many books written about popular musicians that were available, but in the end I decided to read about Paul McCartney.  
      The Beatles had a very profound effect on my life, and I always really liked the melodies and songs that Paul created.  I already knew a lot about The Beatles, but not much about Paul's early life and his post-Beatles existence, this book filled in a lot of those blanks. 
      Paul was born in 1942, in what was a warm and caring family, but the death of his mother when he was 14 had lasting effect on him and he turned to music for solace.  He learned to play the guitar left-handed, sung some rock and roll to friends and even wrote some songs.  At school he met John Lennon, who was two years older and had started a rock and roll band called The Quarry Men.  
      Their mutual love of music and the fact that both boys had lost their mother cemented a close friendship.  Paul was asked to join the band.   George Harrison, a younger boy who was getting good on the guitar was also asked in join John's school boy band.   The Quarry Men were able to get and play gigs around Northern England. 
       Inspired by "Buddy Holly and The Crickets", the Quarry Men decided to join the insect theme and changed their name to "The Silver Beatles" and the just "The Beatles" in 1960.   That same year, despite all being under 21 years of age, they took a job in the "red light" district of Hamburg, Germany playing rock and roll in strip joints and bars.  
     They had a grueling work schedule daily playing for 4 or 6 hours straight into the early hours of the morning with just 15 minute breaks.  They lived together in small windowless back rooms without proper toilet facilities and not even hooks for hanging their clothes. This test of fire solidified their music gave them the experience they needed to succeed. 
       One club owner, mad at the band for switching clubs, ratted to the authorities about George being under age and "The Beatles" were deported back to England.   Upon their return, Paul's father decided Paul had had his fling and pressured him to drop music and get a real job. Paul began working for an electrical company coiling cable, but he was soon so bored, he went back to the band.  In 1961 The Beatles began playing in The Cavern, an old underground warehouse turned into a music venue.  It was playing in Cavern that the incredible rise of their fame and Beatlemania began. 
      Before their first record deal they replaced Pete Best, their drummer, with Ringo Starr.   Their unbelievable fame brought them wealth, but also restricted their lives, because they could no longer just walk down the street.  While John, George, and Ringo married and bought houses, Paul, who had a stable relationship with Jane Asher the actress, moved in and lived with her and her wealthy parents. 
       He bought a very small farmhouse in Kintyre, Scotland where he and Jane would escape into the calm slowness of country life.  While everyone assumed this "perfect" couple would marry, in the end, their careers drove them apart and Paul ended up marrying Linda Eastman, a rock star photographer and groupie.  
       She and her daughter from a previous marriage had a stabilizing effect on Paul, who really wanted a family life.  Paul who was the most serious musician in the Beatles, could be insistent in how their music should sound.  This lead to irritation in the group, but the beginning of the end was when John started bringing Yoko Ono to recording sessions, a place where previously only the Beatles and production people were allowed.  
      Soon the Beatles disbanded with acrimony, with Paul on one side and John, George, and Ringo on the other,  because of a bitter disagreement over the management of their finances.  
       Paul formed Wings, another rock group which he dominated.  He had his wife Linda playing keyboards, although she was a terrible musician.  Wings had a many number ones hits and world tours despite Paul's sometimes stinginess with wages, and his and Linda's insistence on taking pot along with them, which led to arrests and tour cancellations.  
       Paul made many attempts to re-establish contact with the other Beatles, but they shunned these attempts, still angry over his lawsuit to separate individual Beatle member assets and free himself from their manager he distrusted.  He won the lawsuit and even though the other Beatles eventually saw that he was right, they still held it against him.  There was also resentment about his continued music successes. 
       He and John did resume some connection, but never as close as when in the Band. John's murder hit Paul hard, but he continued on with various music projects and his wealth grew.  He had a warm family life with Linda and their four children and numerous homes. Linda and Paul became hardcore vegetarians and animal rights advocates.  Linda wrote a best selling vegetarian cookbook and a started a company producing animal free food. 
      Paul was devastated in 1998 when Linda died of cancer.  They had lived a loving family life together and Paul floundered at her death. Unfortunately, in his depressed mental state, he become infatuated with a seductress named Heather Mills, who had formed a charity to help amputees, herself having lost her lower leg in an accident.  In a past life she basically lived as an expensive prostitute and porn model, but most of that information came out later. 
        Even though Paul fell hard for her, none of his friends liked or trusted her and their warnings fell on Paul's deaf ears. They married, had a stormy 4 years, then divorced with Heather asking for 125 million dollars, she got $24 million.  Despite  Heather's enormous settlement, the judge stated many of her claims were fraudulent.  
       Sir Paul McCartney (he was knighted in 1997) continues giving concerts to this day.   He was the most serious musicians in the Beatles, and in most of his concerts he pays tribute to both John Lennon and George Harrison other members of the Beatles who have both died. They had shared an amazing musical story and despite the later antagonisms, Paul remembers them fondly. 

       I think Fab painted an even-handed picture of Paul, showing his flaws and sometimes pettiness along with his decency and generosity, during a life where it is almost impossible to get any privacy. 

Take a look at my paintings:

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Chaga Time

    Last spring we had the beloved birch tree, that stood beside our house, sawed down.  It had died the year before and so we thought we’d better get it taken down.  It had a black hard chunky looking fungus about the size of a pie plate, growing at arm’s height, that some friends had excitedly pointed out as being Chaga.  Chaga is one of the latest trendy health products that is supposed to be very good for you.
    Once the birch was down and I begin bucking it up for firewood, I cut out the big chunk of Chaga and stored it away in my shop.  A month ago I was looking for something else in the shop and came across the container with the Chaga, so decided it wasn’t doing anyone any good being in continual storage, so brought some in and Joan and I have been having chaga tea most every afternoon after our walk.
    People ask me how it tastes, and I never really know what to tell them.  It doesn’t have much of a distinctive taste, a faint earthy flavor maybe, but not unlike a weak Pekoe tea.  Anyway it is not objectionable at all.
    As I said it is touted to have a wide variety of health benefits, including “tumor prevention” and being an “extremely powerful anti-oxidant”.  I think a lot of that stuff is unproven, but the internet is full of information about it if you want more information. 
    I was surprised at our last visit to the health food store in Prince George to see a huge poster for Chaga in the window.  I thought it was interesting that beside the photo of a slim girl doing yoga on a big rock my the ocean and the bottle of Chaga on the poster, were a bunch of mushrooms.  Chaga is an ugly black crusty growth on a tree and doesn’t look anything like mushrooms, so I was immediately suspicious of the commercial product.  
    I remain sort of skeptical about things that have a lot of health claims, but since we have Chaga  thanks to our old birch tree, we are using it.

You can view my paintings:

Monday 27 March 2017

Hiding Behind A Twig

    The Ruffed Grouse is a chicken-like bird that likes to scratch around in the bush here in BC.  Like chickens, they aren’t always the smartest thing on two legs.  I saw one this morning as Skye and I were walking across the little plank bridge at the outflow of my pond.  You can see from the photo that they are amazingly well camouflaged, but for added protection this one scampered over to hide and because there was a twig in front of its face it thought that it was hidden from view.
    Grouse often can be seen standing stark still in the middle of a road.  They have so much faith in their camouflage that they think if they stand still no one can see them, even when they are surrounded by pavement.  Of course, many are killed on the road, but in the bush, standing still has been a successful strategy for millions of years.

Take a look at my photo-like paintings:

Sunday 26 March 2017

Storm on the Horizon

    Springtime in the Canadian Rockies is characterized by weather system after weather systems moving in from the Pacific.  We get snow squalls, rain, sunshine, more snow squalls, sunshine, rain, etc.  Yesterday when we were walking Skye at Koeneman Park, this threatening-looking mass of dark clouds filled the northwest horizon.  
    Luckily it held off doing anything until we got home, then snow pellets hammered down on our yard.  The furry lasted about 20 minutes then the sun came out and all was forgotten.  Like they always say around here, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 15 minutes.”

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Saturday 25 March 2017

The Walking Alarm Clock Takes A Rest

    It must be hard being a cat.  All of the nightly activities must be exhausting.  Our poor cat Lucifer has to get up very early every morning in order to jump upon our bed and walk around on top of us in an attempt to wake us up.  Even though it does wake us, we pretend to still be sleeping and stay inert in an attempt to go back to sleep.  
    In frustration, she leaves us and starts romping around the house, running to and fro, playing with things  (all the sheets of plastic laying around while we are painting are a great new toy for her).  Soon bored with this activity, Lucifer comes back into the bedroom and hour later to try to wake us again.  This behavior continues until around 7:00, when we finally have had enough, and she has successfully  gotten us out of bed.
    Her job being done, Lucifer then curls up in some soft nest and gets comfortable for a day of snoozing.

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Friday 24 March 2017

A Box Inside A Box Inside A Box

    I’m glad we are able to recycle cardboard, because we sure end up with a lot of it.  When we order things online, of course we are happy that they are well protected and arrive intact, but still, it does sometimes seem like it is a little over done.
    Last week I ordered an Instant Pot.  It is an automated cooker, a combination  steamer, pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, and yogurt maker thing that is supposed to save energy and cook quickly.  When I picked it up at the post office I was surprised at how big the box was.  When I got it home and started unpacking, I understood why.  
    When I opened the first box, inside was a second box.  I opened that second box and found yet another box.  It all seemed a bit excessive, but then again, one never knows how carefully packages are being moved during freight.  
    I am anxious to try out my new kitchen gadget, there are hundreds of interesting videos online showing all the different things it can do, but today I am going to be busy repainting the rooms we had re-drywalled, so I will have to put off trying it until this weekend.

You can see my paintings at:

Thursday 23 March 2017

Rotting Fraser River Ice

    It seems that Spring is finally starting to elbow Winter out of the way in the Robson Valley.  I noticed yesterday that the snow has disappeared from the Fraser River, and the ice has begun to turn the grayish green/blue color that indicates it is starting to decay.  If you look to where the river is starting to curve in the middle of the photo, it appears that maybe there is even some open water--all positive signs that Spring has gained a foothold.

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Wednesday 22 March 2017

Passive Sun Power

    While there is still about 10 inches (25 cm) covering most of our yard, in some places in the Robson Valley the snow has pretty much disappeared.  I was in Koeneman Park, where most of the snow has already disappeared, and saw physical evidence of the passive power of the sun.  The only snow left was just a strip of running across the lawn.  It lay in the area where the shadow of the fence fell, the sun had melted everything else.
    Back at home, near my greenhouse I saw the another example of the phenomenon.

My paintings are on display at:

Tuesday 21 March 2017

Joan Gets It Together

    My mom was a great quilter.  She loved spending many an hour hand sewing a rainbow of colored cloth together to make quilts.  She was a member of “The Piecemakers,” a quilting group that met weekly at her church to quilt.  They were a well known group, who yearly traveled up to the Indiana State Fair, dressed up as pioneer women to demonstrate their craft.  
    Often people would donate pieces of partially finished quilts to the group for them to finish.  At some time in the past someone donated a box of very tiny postage stamp-size cut out pieces of someone’s  unfinished dream quilt.  No one in the group was crazy enough to want to try to make something of all of those pieces, so my mom took the box home.  She knew someone just crazy enough to maybe do it.
    She gave the pieces to Joan as a “present”.   Joan stuck them away for a decade or so, and periodically got the box out and mulled over the pieces, slowly shook her head, then put the pieces back in the closet.  Over the last few months, Joan became more determined to do something with all of those tiny pieces, which were cut to two different sizes, just to make things more complicated.  After a lot of thinking and playing around with design, she decided on something she liked and got to work piecing them together.
    It seemed an impossible task to me, but she stuck with it and last week finished sewing all those tiny pieces of fabric together, and created the top of a quilt that you see in the photo above.  She has now added a bottom piece and sandwiched the batting in between and has begun the actual quilting.  Below is a close-up of the center section.

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Monday 20 March 2017

Springtime In the Rockies

    Since today is the Spring Equinox, Winter is over.  Well, officially that might be the case, but when I look outside, my brain tells me a different story.  Outside, it doesn’t look much different than it did in mid-winter.  We still have 10 inches (25 cm) of snow on the ground, and our overnight temperature tonight is supposed to be -10C (14F).
    I have been waiting for Spring for months, and now that its here, I must say I feel cheated.

My paintings are on display at:

Sunday 19 March 2017

Chuck Berry: Hail, Hail, Rock And Roll

    Another rock and roll pioneer (and personal favorite) has left the stage.  Yes, the media is full of the fact that Chuck Berry has died, but he had a good 90 year run and left a lot of foot stompin’ music in his wake.  
    Whenever I start thinking about my early introduction to rock and roll, Chuck Berry is always the first musician that comes to mind.  As kids, whenever we were visiting our grandparents and the adults began sitting around and talking, my sister and I would slip out and make our way to my uncle’s bedroom, turn on his record player, and start rifling through his stacks of 45’s.  By far, my favorite record was Chuck Berry’s guitar-riffed “School Day.”  I loved the energy, the beat, the lyrics, the vocals, and the guitar style in the song, and still do these 60 years later.
    Chuck Berry not only had an effect on the two kids in their uncle’s bedroom, but also on The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and a myriad of other musicians, who developed and took his genre further.  Below are some of Berry’s other hit songs you might have heard by Chuck or other musicians:
    “Roll over Beethoven”, “Mabellene”, “Rock and Roll Music”, “Johnny B. Goode”, “Sweet Little Sixteen”, “My Ding-A-Ling”, “Merry Christmas Baby”, “Nadine (Is It You?), and “Run Rudolph Run”.
    At our Tuesday Night jam session, we always always try to do a song as a tribute to some musician who we liked, that has recently died, so I expect that this coming Tuesday we will play “Johnny B. Goode”.   It is a song that is already in our repertoire, which the group always enjoys playing, even though I always screw up the lead guitar part.
    Rest in Peace, Chuck Berry, we enjoyed having you around.

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Saturday 18 March 2017

Distant Mountains Along Highway 16

    McBride, BC is located in a valley hemmed in with mountains on both sides.  As you leave McBride to drive up to Prince George, which is located on a plateau, the mountains get farther and farther away from the highway.  You can however, see them off in the distance at various places along the highway, in places not obscured by trees.  These periodic glimpses of mountains break up the monotony of the drive, where most of the time you can only see trees on both sides
    On our return trip from Prince George back to McBride, I stopped several times to take photos of the mountains.  These photo were taken with my camera zoomed in on them, so they appear bigger than they do when you are just looking out of the window of the car.  I think maybe the snow-covered peak above is Mt. Sir Alexander.
    Below is another photo of mountains in the distance made hazy by falling snow.

You can see my photo-realistic paintings at:

Friday 17 March 2017

A Screw in the Tire

    We make the 135 mile (217 km) drive up to Prince George about once a month to restock needed supplies.  During the winter, we carefully watch the weather to pick a safe day for the drive.   Yesterday was the day we chose.  The weather forecast didn’t look bad, just a 30% chance of snow flurries,  but just out of McBride we ran into a snowstorm, a near “whiteout” where you could hardly make out where the highway was.  Fortunately, we only had snow for about 1/3 of the trip, then things cleared up.
    Once at PG we began ticking off all the things we had on our list.  We drove to the fabric store so Joan could get the material she needed for her quilt.  That done, we dropped off a quilt belonging to an acquaintance in McBride, at the quilt place where she wanted it delivered.  Great, we were making good time ticking off the chores.
    Then we drove to Costco and when I was filling up at the gas pumps, I happened to look down at my tire and noticed a screw sticking out of the side of it.  The tire was still inflated, so I timidly touched the screw to see if I could determine how deep it had gone into the wall of the tire.  It seemed to be in pretty deep.  When I moved the screw a bit to one side, a few little bubbles of air were released, so it had penetrated deep enough to cause me trouble.
    Fortunately, Costco has a tire department, so I drove over there and had the woman technician take a look at it.  She gave me the bad news--since the screw was in the sidewall of the tire, the tire couldn’t be repaired and would have to be replaced.  She told me that Costco was completely out of snow tires, so that created a problem.
    The spare tire in the car was one of those Mickey Mouse small temporary tires.  I thought about the prospect of having to drive all the way back to McBride on a snowy highway on the small replacement tire, then once back home, having to immediately take off all the winter tires and put on my 4 summer tires, a bit early in the season.  That didn’t seem like a good solution.
    As we ate lunch in Costco and I continued to mull over the problem and I remembered that I had bought those snow tires at Subaru, when we bought the car.  I called them and luckily, they still had one of the same tires in stock and they could slot us in to get it put on.
    We felt so lucky to be able to get the tire replaced in a timely manner, and although it was an “unscheduled” deviation from our Prince George shopping list, it all worked out in the end and we still had enough time to complete all the other things that we wanted to get done.

You can view my paintings at:

Wednesday 15 March 2017

March Morning

    I liked the colors in the sky this morning when I was carrying sunflower seeds to the bird feeder.

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Tuesday 14 March 2017

Two at One Glance

    I painted my earlier acrylic works on paper, and then had them framed with glass.  Glass can be a problem because of its reflective qualities.  You can buy non-reflective glass, but to me that dulls the colors and details, so I always just used regular glass.
    Several years ago I displayed three paintings in the windows of a store in Prince George.  I was quite disappointed when I went out to the sidewalk to see how they looked.  The store window was reflecting all the cars going down the street and the building across the street.  It was difficult to see the paintings during the day.  
    I generally I sleep upstairs, but had to move out because of the drywalling that is being done there, so I have been sleeping in the lower bedroom.  When I got up this morning, I looked up at my painting
“Rhubarb” that was hanging on the wall, and in the middle of it, I could see my paintings “Sunflower” that was hanging on the opposite wall--What a bargain, two for one!

You can see all of my paintings at:

Monday 13 March 2017

Our "Welcome" Puddle

    Suddenly the temperature has risen above freezing, so the snow is starting to melt.  That water created from the melting snow has to go someplace, and some of it pools up in the low spot where our sidewalk meets our front porch  (hopefully you can make out the puddle in the photo above).  Walking through, or around this big puddle is not the most welcoming of situations for people coming to our door, but a long time ago when I made the sidewalk I guess I didn’t realize it was sloping downward.  Now there’s not a whole lot I can do about it, except scoop the water out.  Eventually, when the frost in the ground below it finally thaws, it will drain itself.
    Another effect of the warming temperatures is that the snow that has been accumulating on our roof starts to slowly slide downhill, and draping itself in front of our windows (photo below).  While it’s nice to see the snow finally start to melt, but it does create a lot of messy situations until it is all gone.

You can view my paintings:

Sunday 12 March 2017

Daylight Savings Time Cartoon

    Here is one of my older cartoons on the subject of Daylight Savings Time.

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Saturday 11 March 2017

The Big Cover-Up

    As I mentioned in an earlier blog, we are having our walls re-plastered, so we are currently living in a  construction zone.  We have plastic sheets draped over everywhere to prevent the plaster dust from getting into everything.  A good bit of our things are piled in our dining room, so it is almost impossible to find or get to the things we need.
    While it is good to see progress in the work that has to be done, it is a bit dismaying to know we are going to have to live like this for a while.  The drywall work takes several days to set, dry, and sand, then all of those re-plastered walls will have to be repainted, so we will just have to get used to our current living conditions.

My paintings at home are now covered with plastic sheets, but they can still be seen online:

Friday 10 March 2017

Winter Weary

    Winter hasn’t shown any signs of abating anytime soon.  It seems like the middle of winter rather than  11 days before Spring.  The temperatures have been cold and the snow keeps falling.  I went out and measured how much snow was on the ground and as you can see we still have 18 inches (46 cm), and another inch fell overnight and the white stuff is still coming down.
    I am sick of it, sick of the grayscale environment, and sick of the cold temperatures.  I worry as my wood pile just keeps shrinking.  I need to see some sign of spring.  I am at the point where I will even welcome all the mud that comes with the snow melt.  

My paintings are on display at:

Thursday 9 March 2017

What a Tangled Web

    There is a hidden hell hiding behind our electronic entertainment system.  I try to avoid having to deal with the tangle of wires behind our TV and stereo, but yesterday I opened that pandora’s box because I had to move it all away from the wall.  The drywall of that wall had cracks in it and we hired Todd the local drywall guy to fix it.  That meant the TV, the stereo amp, the speakers, DVD player, the satellite receiver and the myriad of wires that connect them all together had to be moved.  
    After I moved it, I did find quite a few wires that were no longer doing anything and removed them from the mix, so hopefully when it comes time to move everything back into place, the chaos won’t be quite so bad as it looks in the photo.

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Wednesday 8 March 2017

Our Wild-Looking Dog

    Skye’s hair is getting longer and the other day after rolling around on the carpet and shaking her self, we had to laugh at how she looked.

You can view my paintings at:

Tuesday 7 March 2017

Unique Garden Tool

    One of the Seedy Saturday events that I found really interesting was called “My Favorite Garden Tool.”  The tool I found most interesting was Pete’s furrow maker (on right side of photo).  His father had used such a tool in Lebanon and he discovered that he could find no such implement after moving to Canada, so he had a blacksmith make him one.  When his father got to the age when he know longer could garden, he gave the tool to Pete.
    When you draw the furrow maker through the soil, it makes a nice groove for you to plant in.  Once you put the seeds into the furrow, you turn the tool over and draw the two wings over the sides of the furrow, and it pulls the soil back over the groove thus covering the seeds. 
    Pete’s tool seems like a really useful garden implement.

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Monday 6 March 2017

Seedy Saturday

       Last Saturday I was among the 40 or so other people who braved the highways, after the big snow dump, to attend the annual Seedy Saturday event in Dunster.  It is an opportunity for local garden enthusiasts to share information about gardening.  I always leave the gathering, full of new ideas and renewed enthusiasm for the growing season ahead.
    The photo above shows local organic professional, Gary Lowe, explaining his attempts to breed a new variety of carrot, that combines delicious taste, a beautiful color, and can be grown in our climate.  (Note the carrot he is holding looks dull because Gary says you shouldn’t clean all the dirt off of them when you store them over winter.  
    Gary and Wendy Lowe are also breeding a new wheat variety, one that features all the nutrients of ancient varieties, but has the “hairs” on the end of the growing grain that deter wild deer and elk from eating it (a real problem in the Robson Valley).  Creating a new variety takes seven years of selection and growing before one comes up with a dependable seed that always reproduces what you are breeding for.  The Lowe’s make their living growing organic produce and I am always amazed at the knowledge and the seriousness they possess about growing plants and creating seeds.
    Below is a cross section of their developing carrot.  (Again, the sides look dirty because they haven’t been washed).


Take a look at my paintings:

Sunday 5 March 2017

Days of Snow

    True to the old saying, March came in like a lion.  We’ve gotten a couple of days and nights of stormy snow.  The photo shows my view as I piloted my snowblower up my driveway.  I had to snowblow the driveway twice.  We got about 12” (30 cm) of fluffy fresh snow over 24 hours, but overnight the skies cleared and the temperatures dropped.  It was -18C (0 F) this morning.  It sure feels as if winter has no intention of loosening her grip on us anytime soon.

You can see my paintings at:

Friday 3 March 2017

Library Cards

    Another old memory that was triggered while cleaning out the bookcase concerned some of  the children books I found.  They had been purchased back in the 1970‘s when I was teaching in the one room school on Takla Lake.  The isolated school (there were no roads connecting to the outside world, only flights) was a really bare-bone affair and there were very few educational resources for the students to use.  To remedy this situation, Joan and I bought books for the kids to read and look at.  (That part of education hasn’t changed, teacher’s still end up using their own money to buy school supplies for the students.)
    We decided to set up a “school library” with those books, so that the kids could take them home.  To keep track of where the book was,  I ordered some paper pockets and library cards and pasted them in the back of the books.  One shown in the photo.
    It seems these cards and pockets are now a thing of the past in regular public libraries also.  Book barcodes and information are now scanned in a computer.  I always used to like the cards in library books, it seemed like a good system, but I guess not as efficient as electronic technology.

My paintings can be seen at:

Thursday 2 March 2017

Run, Jane, Run.

    The other day when I was cleaning out the bookcase shelf of VCR tapes to make room for Joan’s cookbooks, I also had to clear out a row of children’s book that were stored there.  I guess we kept them in case some kids came to visit at our house (I’m pretty sure we never had the occasion to use them).  Amongst the books were a couple of reading primers that I had used when I was teaching in a one room school.  Seeing it brought back some memories.
    Back in 1973 when Joan and I arrived in the logging camp on Takla Lake to start and teach in the one room school, there were absolutely no school supplies at all because the school district hadn’t been able to find a teacher, so there was some doubt as to whether there would be a school that year.  Once I was there ready to teach, I had to order and wait for supplies to come.  I had never actually been in a school in British Columbia, so I wasn’t sure what would be coming and when I got the supplies, I was dismayed that there were no primers or early reading books to guide me in teaching reading to the first graders.  
    I think at the time BC’s Ministry of Education was going through one of its “new theories in education” modes, and no longer believed in text books.  I, however, still believed in the old methods of phonics and graduated texts and was very frustrated that I didn’t have any to use.
    I mentioned it to my mother, and she sent me some ancient primers (actually the same ones that had been used when I was in the first grade).  Despite their age, they were very helpful and in using them, I taught all of my first graders to read, which I felt was one of my most important jobs.
    I remember getting a new first grader late in the school year.  When I checked on her abilities, I discovered that she didn’t know how to read.  I inquired to her parents and was told that in the school she had previously attended, the teacher’s attitude toward reading was, “She will learn to read when she wants to.”  
    I found this appalling, and immediately started teaching her to read, whether she “wanted” to or not.   I don’t think she had ever thought about it, and when it was presented, she accepted that that’s what we did in school, and there was no problem.  She was soon reading at the same level as my other students.
    I still remember Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot, and Puff from my first grade.  Those old memories from your youth really stick in your head.

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