Saturday 30 September 2017

Koeneman Park

    When I think of parks in the area, I generally think about the spectacular “wild” parks like Mt. Robson Provincial Park, the Ancient Forest, or Jasper National Park, but the park we visit the most is Koeneman Regional Park, which is located just down the road, nestled beside the Fraser River.  Compared to the other parks I mentioned, Koeneman is tame and “civilized.”  With a nicely maintained lawn and picnic tables.
    It was the property of the Koenemans, one of the pioneering families in the Robson Valley.  It was their farm, and still features their old log house.  When we first moved to the area before it became a park, we greatly admired the cabin, and it’s beautiful setting.
    We have gotten into the habit of walking around the 5 hectare (12 acre) park almost daily, because it is one of our dog’s favorite places.  She can smell the scent of other dogs, without having to see them.  (The park is rarely peopled and usually empty when we visit.)
    The last couple of times we have been there it has been extremely beautiful.  The Sun is just about to dip behind the Cariboo Mountains, but is still hitting the colored autumn leaves on the trees directly.  The photos show what we saw.


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Friday 29 September 2017

Back on the Bike

    Every Spring I get my bike out of the barn and have it ready to ride.  I like riding my bike and before I retired I used to bike the 8 km (5 miles) to work most days from Spring to Fall, however since retiring I am embarrassed to say that I am lucky if I get on my bike once a year.  I know last year I only biked into town one time.  This year I have managed to do it twice.  
    Usually when I have to go to town it is because I have to haul something home or take something to town and my bike doesn’t work well for that, and our dog always likes to go for a ride, which also doesn’t work well on a bike, so I always end up driving .
    The three times I biked during the past two years has been when I go to our book club at the library.  The dog can’t really sit in the car during our get together, and since all I have to take is a pair of glasses and my iPad, I can easily do that with the bike.
    My trip yesterday to the book club was a struggle.  Not only were my legs out of shape and complaining about the sudden expenditure of energy and my butt irritated by the bike seat, but there were a really strong wind gusts that really slowed my progress.  I was pretty worn out when I got to the library.  The wind was still strong when I biked back home, and on my return I always have to bike up the steep hill by the Mennonite Church, which is always a chore.
    It was a beautiful day though and I stopped several times along the way to snap some photos of the autumn foliage.  I was tired when I got home, but happy that I had decided to take the bike.  Like every other year during the fall, I am hoping that next year I will do more trips on my bike.

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Thursday 28 September 2017

More Autumn

    Yesterday the pond was calm and reflecting like a mirror.  I took the opportunity to double the autumn colors that are now in their prime.

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Wednesday 27 September 2017

Patches of Sunshine

    Autumn colors are pretty much at there prime right now in the Robson Valley.  Yesterday the sky was partially cloudy and so as the the clouds moved across the sky, sunshine would fall and move across the mountain slopes highlighting patches of yellowing trees.  I didn’t get much walking done because I kept having to stop to take photos.  Here are a few:


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Tuesday 26 September 2017

Natural Selection

    At the base of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is the idea of natural selection.  When living things reproduce those off-spring are not exactly alike.  Their genetics have made each of them a little different.  Genetics might give some offspring a trait that gives them an advantage over the others, and over time, those with the advantage will be more successful in competing and thus survive and reproduce, eventually the offspring without the advantage will be disappear, leaving just the advantaged.
    That is happening in our shady small garden of Bishop’s Goutweed.  Originally all of the goutweed had variegated leaves (the plants you see with the white bordered leaves).  There was no goutweed with just green leaves. 
    A few years ago genetic modification must have thrown up a plant that had just green leaves. Having just green leaves meant the leaves had more chlorophyll and so it could generate more food for the plant in the shaded area than the variegated-leaved plants.  So each year the green leaved plant were healthier and overtime they have crowded out the variegated plants and started to take over our flower garden.  
    I like the variegated leaved plant better, and I would have been smart to pull out the few green-leaved goutweed years ago, but I didn’t and now, every year as the green leaved plant spreads, the job becomes harder.  If I do nothing, eventually the variegated goutweed will totally disappear and the garden will become nothing but the green goutweed.

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Monday 25 September 2017

Yellowing Aspen

    The Aspen are beginning to change to their Autumn yellow color.  Here are some examples.

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Sunday 24 September 2017

The Vietnam War

    I can think of no other international event that had more effect on my life than the US war in Vietnam.  It happened just as I was maturing and it changed the direction of my life.  I have been re-living those hopeless and depressing years nightly as I watch Ken Burns’ Vietnam series on PBS.  
    As you can see from my old button collection I was very much opposed to that horrendous event that cost the lives of so many Americans and especially Vietnamese and changed nothing.  My opposition was many faceted:  on moral grounds (the killing and maiming of so many thousands of innocent people), political grounds (I had a bumper sticker that read, “How many Vietnamese fought in our civil war?”), and just common sense (Pat Paulson once said, “It costs us $10,000 to kill each Vietnamese, we could buy each of them off for less than that.”)
    Like what is going on in Washington today, everything was so hopeless, about all you could do is shake your head and laugh at the tragic stupidity of it all.
    I am proud to look back at those times knowing that I did what I could, naively thinking that those in power actually cared about the opinion of a teenager in Indiana (a very conservative state where probably 90% of the population supported the war).  
     I wrote letters to the editor, I joined with the few other local anti-war protesters in demonstrations, I worked at a draft counseling office to inform young men of their rights concerning the Draft, I travelled to the massive anti-war demonstration with hundreds of thousands of others in Washington DC, I joined the Peace Corp to delay getting drafted, and I became a conscientious objector and had to work two years in a Goodwill Store.
    When all those things (and the activities of thousands of others) failed, and seeing how most of the citizens of the US still supported the war, despite all the information about reality that was out there, I immigrated to Canada.  The Vietnam War opened my eyes to the reality of the US and certainly changed the direction of my life.
    Ken Burns’ Vietnam War documentary presents the many opinions of both American and Vietnamese, and shows the events that led to the war, and how things played out in Washington and Vietnam.  Most of the information I knew before, but it is still sobering to actually hear the secret voices of the US presidents saying that they know that the war could not be won, but at the same time telling the public that there was “light at the end of tunnel” and they just needed to send in more troops--all those lives sacrificed in vain.
    Oh well, enough of this.  If you haven’t been watching the PBS series, you should.  It is extremely interesting to hear the stories of people on all sides--the Hawks, the Doves, the Vietcong, and the South Vietnamese.  Like all of Ken Burns’ documentaries, the visuals are amazing and the stories are touching, brutal, and informative, all to a soundtrack of the music I grew up with.

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Saturday 23 September 2017

Bumper Beet Crop

    Planting a garden is a lot like throwing dice; you never know what you are going to end up with.  This year my corn crop was a total bust with the frost killing the plant before the ears matured.  I had much better results with beets.  I ended up with the biggest beets I have ever grown.  
    I find eating beets is always a bit of a hassle because the tubers are so hard and they take so much cooking to soften them up, but I luckily discovered my pressure cooking Instant Pot the be the solution to that problem.  Our favorite way to eat beets is Joan’s very spicy pickled beets that are always a success with guests too.   She adds cayenne, and garlic to the pickled beets when she cans them and they are delicious.  
    I know that beets are not a favorite food for a lot of people.  One of my sisters doesn’t like their taste  and I recently read that the Obamas don’t like them either, but as I write this blog I can smell cooking beets and my saliva is running, because Joan is right in the middle of making the spicy pickled beets right now.  
    Below is a photo of the half quart jars, each with a garlic clove, half a bay leaf, and half a teaspoon of cayenne, waiting for the cooked beets and brine to be added.

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Friday 22 September 2017

Park Range of the Canadian Rockies

    The Robson Valley is nestled between two mountain ranges; the Cariboo Mountains on the south and the Park Range of the Canadian Rockies on the north.  Here is a photo I took yesterday of the fresh snow on the Park Range.  The aspen and birch trees that blanket the mountains are beginning to show a yellowish tint as they prepare for autumn.

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Thursday 21 September 2017

Reoffending Bear

    This was the crime scene that I encountered this morning when I let Skye out of the house.  I knew immediately what had occurred.  A bear had gotten into my shop overnight.  I was cautious as I went to investigate, because the accused might still be in there, but fortunately, it had taken what it wanted and had vacated the premises.  
    It seems the only thing the bear thought was of value was a week-old bag of garbage and a few apples.  It could have been a whole lot worse, because the whole cartload of apples and plums that I picked last Sunday were sitting in there practically beside the trashcan.  The bear took a few apples, leaving a few half-eaten ones on the floor, but didn’t seem at all interested in eating the plums, which I would have thought would have been a prime target.
    The bag of garbage seemed to be the primary victim.  It had totally disappeared, so I suspect the bear dragged it off into the bush to pick through its contents.
    This was a repeat offense: same crime had occurred before in exactly the same way, last year;  the shop door had inadvertently been left unlatched, the bear went in, opened the garbage can, and dragged the plastic trash bag and contents off into the woods.  
    The other day on the radio they were talking about bear’s remarkable memory for food, and how they can remember where they had gotten apples off of a tree, and will return to that spot every year even years after the apple tree had been sawed down.  I guess our neighborhood bear remembered where it got the trash bag of garbage and probably checked the door of the shop every time it came through, and last night it hit the jackpot again.
    I really don’t feel any enmity toward the bear.  It was just doing what it needs to by bulking up for the winter, and it was our fault for not paying attention to the door latch. 

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Wednesday 20 September 2017

Hinkleman Cabin Painting Done

    I just finished this painting 15 minutes ago.  It features the deteriorating log cabin that can be seen on Hinkelman road (the roof of the cabin has now totally fallen in).  I started this painting on June 20th.  It took me 68 hours to complete.  
    The 18 x 24 inch painting was done with acrylics on canvas.  I especially like the area showing Beaver Mountain being obscured by the dark cloud, and the chunks of highlighted snow in the foreground that had been thrown up from a snowplow.  

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Tuesday 19 September 2017

A Butterfly on Clover

    In these waning days of summer, this butterfly is out there taking advantage of what food is still available.  

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Monday 18 September 2017

Ben Blixrud, Another Friend Lost

    Late night phone calls have the reputation of bearing bad news, and that was the case for us last night when we heard that Ben Blixrud had died.  It was a shock that still has us in a state of disbelief.  He was such a vibrant and healthy person, who has been our friend for decades.  
    Ben grew up in McBride and never let the community’s isolation get in the way of his interests.  He loved to be in motion, and created many modes of achieving such a goal.  He was the first local person I met that spent time paragliding off of the mountains.  He loved biking, and made himself several recumbent bikes. 
    He used a sail to propel himself across frozen lakes at breakneck speed on homemade sleds, and as the photo above shows, he rigged up a wheeled contraption with a sail to speed up an down the tarmac at the airport on windy days.
    Ben was not just very mechanical and creative, he loved ideas and took the trouble to try them out.  He was also a sculptor and we have always treasured his thoughtful gift of the two leaping killer whales carving he gave us for an anniversary.  Whenever we ran into Ben at the grocery, post office, or out somewhere doing some outrageous thing with one of his contraptions, it was always a joy to stop and hear what he had been up to.
    It’s going to take some time for us to process this loss of such a vibrant friend.

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Sunday 17 September 2017

Auction Event

    Yesterday was the big auction at Bonneville”s.  A big chunk of the Robson Valley was on hand to look at the items for sale and socialize.  Bonnevilles have been residence in the valley for a very long time and had collected a lot of interesting items that were up for sale.  Fortunately, I didn’t see anything that struck my fancy, but I enjoyed looking at the many unique antique vehicles.
    Above is an early snowmobile, the first one I have ever seen in the flesh.  Below is the lineup of other vehicles that were put under the auctioneer’s gavel.

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Saturday 16 September 2017


    Thursday night we had our first frost which was repeated last night, so the Robson Valley is definitely moving out of summer and into fall.  So far the freezing temperature has not killed off the sensitive things in the garden which is sort of sheltered by trees, but it is only a matter of time before a killing frost does the deed.
    Last evening I moved some of our house plants that have been outside all summer, back into the house for the winter.
    The photos shows the frost on some lupines that got hit hard by the frost because they are in the open on the pasture.

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Friday 15 September 2017

I Picked the Fruit, Now What?

    In the fall we are always advised to pick all the fruit off of the trees before the bears come around.  Allowing bears to eat the fruit causes “problem bears” (bears that are likely to interact badly with people).  After our neighborhood bear started causing disrupted sleep and damage to our apple tree, I decided to pick all the fruit from our apple tree and plum tree before it was tempted to do them damage.
    The photo shows all the fruit I picked, and there is so much of it, I am really concerned about what to do with all of it.  Certainly Joan and I can’t eat it all, especially all of those plums.  I would give most of it away but don’t know who would want it.  I will try though.
    Right now it is stored, protected in my shop.  The apples aren’t really one of the varieties that can be stored very long.  I was going to look up on the internet to see how plums are made into prunes which would keep.  We will eat some of them raw because they are tasty, but we could never eat all of them before they start deteriorating.

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Thursday 14 September 2017

Night Marauder

    We’ve experienced a couple of nights of interrupted sleep, because of a black bear who has been stuffing itself with berries, in preparation for a long winter without food.  That by itself isn’t a big problem, except that it did do a lot of damage to one of our apple trees.  The big problem is the effect that the bear’s presence is having on our dog Skye, and the resulting problem of what Skye’s reaction is having on us.
    In the middle of the night as Joan and I are deep in our slumber, suddenly Skye (who stays in the house) goes ballistic with loud barking and growling.  This of course wakes us up, and it takes a while for us to calm Skye down and for us to get back to sleep.  
    When everything is quiet again, and we are once again in slumberland, the bear sneaks back, Skye explodes again with fierce barking, and we again are suddenly awake.  On Tuesday night this happened about 7 or eight times.  It was not a very restful night.
    Last night it was better, Skye only erupted twice.  This morning I discovered the damage to the apple tree.  It broke some branches, but the tree is behind our garden fence, which kept the bear from doing more damage.  This afternoon, I will have to pick the remaining apples from the tree to eliminate the temptation for the bear.  I will also have to pick plums which the bear has yet to discover.
    Below is a photo of the apple tree with its branch split and pulled over the fence.

My paintings can be seen at:

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Rose Hips

    Wild roses (common name “Prickly Rose”, scientific name “Rosa acicularis”) are common in the Robson Valley (you can see the pink bloom in the photo).  When the flower is pollinated they create a fruit which is called a rose hip (the bright red spheres in the photo).    They are rich in vitamin C and are sometimes used in herbal teas or jam.  They have a lot of seeds in them, so people generally don’t eat them off the bush and when they do, they just eat the rind.
   I was a bit surprised to find this wild rose with both a flower and the mature hips on the same bush.  
   It is an interesting bit of trivia that apple trees belong to the rose family.

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Monday 11 September 2017

Green and Blue Valley

    Yesterday as we were doing our walk east of McBride, the sky was mostly cloudy, but every once and a while a break in the cloud would allow sunlight through, which made some nice highlighting on the valley bottom.  

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Sunday 10 September 2017

What Am I Going to Draw a Cartoon About?

    I started drawing cartoons for the local paper in 1980.  At first it was a periodic activity; drawing one when I was mad at something going on, or something relevant.  Soon I was asked by the paper to do one every week, and I have been doing a weekly one ever since.  I presently supply a different cartoon for two local papers each week.  That means I have drawn a lot of cartoons.
    The hardest part about making a cartoon is coming up with a subject.  I get my inspiration mostly from things that happen to me or things that are effecting me.  Of course, the news or trends also become subjects.  Today I decided to look over my file of cartoons to see what subjects I rely on heavily.  This is what I found:
    I was surprised to find that my biggest subject was “Politics.”  I have drawn 86 cartoons on the subject.  They include local, provincial, and international politics.  Cartoons about “Gardening” came in 2nd with 54.  Right behind it was “Dogs” with 51 cartoons.  “Mosquitoes” account for 49 cartoons, others include: “Puns” (38) “Cats” (33) and “Birds (30).  “Gas” inspired 29.
    Because I live in British Columbia, weather and seasons have led to a lot of cartoons:  “Weather” (general) 24, “Winter” 41, “Snow” 27, “Spring” 27, and “Wind” 13.  I have drawn 41 cartoons dealing with “Christmas.”
    “Television” (23), “Lawns” (27), Computers (24), “McBride” (20), “Olympics” (22), “Clothes” (20), and the “Economy” (20) were also popular subjects.  
    I was surprised to find only 7 done on “Mice” because I had thought I had done more.  I had 18 “Deer” cartoons, and 10 “Bear” cartoons.
    The above mentioned cartoons are just some of those I have created.  When I was a kid trying to copy Don Martin cartoons from Mad Magazine, I never dreamed that that would lead to so many hours of drawing cartoons as an adult.  A person never knows just what things will be important in later years.

I also paint, you can see my paintings at:

Saturday 9 September 2017


    As we move toward fall, more and more mushrooms are popping up in lawns or in the bush.  Mushrooms are such strange and unworldly-looking plants.  I saw a few days ago, and it seemed unusual because of the volume of its stem compared with its cap.

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Friday 8 September 2017

Smoke, Be Gone.

    For the Robson Valley, this has been a summer of smoke, and it is not over yet.  In the photo above you can see a photo that I took of Horseshoe Lake yesterday (the white stripes) transposed over a shot I took on a smoke-free day.  Yesterday the mountains were totally obscured by the smoke.  The smoky photo was taken in the early afternoon.  In the evening the smoke was even thicker.  
    It sounds like BC is not the only place where forest fires are burning.  I heard a report on NPR yesterday where they interviewed a woman in Portland, Oregon who was also suffering from heavy smoke from a nearby forest fire.  She said the smoke was so thick there that the smoke detector in her house went off.  Luckily we don’t have that problem here (our smoke detector only goes off when we fix pizza or have bread in the toaster).

My paintings can be seen at:

Thursday 7 September 2017

Optimistic Zucchini

    Normally our garden overwhelms us with zucchini.  I have photos showing me holding zucchini as big as chunks of firewood.  I have drawn several cartoons dealing with the problem of what to do with too many of the zucchinis.  That has not been a problem this year.  We have yet to harvest our first zucchini.
    I noticed yesterday that there are a couple of the vegetables finally starting to form, but we are moving into the season where a frost could hit us some night, so who knows if we will actually get to eat any zucchini this year.  Despite the fact that time is limited in our growing season, the plant continues on like nothing is wrong and is still producing flowers.  In the photo above you can see a couple of the blooms.

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Wednesday 6 September 2017

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

    “Where have all the flowers gone?” was the question Joan asked herself yesterday when she looked out and saw her geranium plant.  The answer was simple--a deer ate them.  
    This poor plant has had a hard year.  It sat unhappily in our entrance way all winter long trying to stay warm, and when we put it out in the spring it suffered because of not being accustomed to the direct sunlight.  Finally it recovered and started putting out blooms, but they didn’t last long because they were eaten during the night by a hungry deer.
    It again the plant recovered and, as you can see from all the upright stems in the photo, it was flowering again when, deja vu, the deer came back in the night for some dessert. 
    All this wildlife can sure lead to frustration.

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Tuesday 5 September 2017

Empty McBride

    This is what Main Street McBride looked like yesterday in the early afternoon.  Of course it was the Labor Day holiday, so all the stores were closed, but the lack of people and cars still surprised me.  This was a reminder that the crowds of Summer generally disappear after Labor Day.
    McBride did have a bustling summer with lots of tourists due largely to the massive number of forest fires that burned through the Cariboo and Chilcotin areas south of us.
    There are just two highways that allow people in Northern BC to get to the Lower Mainland.  One of those highways was closed for about a month because of the fires and so all those people who would have used it had to detour past McBride to get to Highway 5, which became the only other way to get to the south. 
    Also another reason for all the drive by traffic was that Prince George became an evacuation center for those people in the active fire areas that were forced to leave their homes.  Because of the one highway being closed, evacuees had to take the long round about way, that went past McBride, to get to Prince George.  Joan and I were surprised at how much traffic was on the highway during these times.
    But things are now moving back to the slow and quiet mode around here as McBride gets back to normal.
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Monday 4 September 2017

Measuring Cartoon

    There is an old saying:  “Measure twice, cut once.”   It seems no matter how many times I measure, I still end up cutting twice because something went wrong.

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Sunday 3 September 2017

Creepy Gate

    Years ago when I built the deer fence around our garden I also built this arched gateway so we could get in and out.  I thought it would be attractive to have some kind of plant growing over the archway and so planted some Virginia Creeper to do the job.
    They have struggled over the years to gain a foothold.  Once I accidentally cut a main stem while mowing, but it survived and has finally grown across the top of the structure. Hopefully now it will start to engulf the arch with foliage.
    As you can see the creeper turns a brilliant red during the fall.  It’s color inspired my painting “Creeper”.  Below is a similar image similar to the painting that I photographed this morning.

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Saturday 2 September 2017

Ash Sunset

    In 1883 the Krakatoa volcano in Indonesia erupted and threw a tremendous amount of ash into the air.  In the years following the eruption it was reported that there were brilliant sunsets around the world caused by that volcanic ash.  I thought of that the other evening as I watched the Sun slide behind the Cariboo Mountains.  Our brilliant sunset was caused by the huge amount of ash we have in the air from all of the forest fires still burning in BC.

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Friday 1 September 2017

Clusters of Tree Fruit

    Whenever I visual apples on a tree, in my mind I see single individual apples spread out on a branch.  The apple and plum trees I have growing in my garden have the fruit all clumped together along a branch.  The plum tree is so heavily ladened that I have had to prop up some of the branches to prevent them from breaking.
    Looking back, I see that I should have picked off some of the fruit early on, just to lessen the load on the trees, I doubt that we will end up eating all of it.

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