Thursday 30 November 2017

Indecisive Winter

    Winter just can’t seem to make up its mind what it is going to do.  Early in November we got record cold, then it warmed up, then it got cold again.  We got snowfalls that made me think, “Well, this is it now, we will have snow on the ground until March, but then warm moist weather moved in and it rained and the snow disappeared.  These reversals have happened a couple of times.
    The Fraser River froze over, but as you can see from the photo I took yesterday, it is ice-free again.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really like really cold weather, but I would rather have snow than rain this time of year.

You can view my paintings at:

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Mysterious Hole in the Ice

    This hole in the ice on my pond has me scratching my head.  I can’t figure out what caused it.  In past years I did have smaller holes appeared, but I assumed they were caused by warmer water from a spring under the ice.  This hole appears to be different. 
    I don’t think it was caused by some animal falling through, because it is so round.  The cracks that seem to radiate out from the hole makes be think that it was from something that fell from the sky, but I just don’t know.
    I guess it will just remain one life’s many mysteries.

Take a look at my paintings:

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Local Click Bait

    Everyone knows about all the scams and dishonesty there is on the internet, but sometimes the lies are so outrageous that you can’t help but laugh.  Joan brought my attention to the one above, about the “Luxurious Senior Apartments in Valemount.” with the photo of the gigantic, palatial, grand staircased, and chandelier-lit room.  Take my word for it, no such place exists in Valemount, or anywhere close.
    Like McBride, Valemount is a small isolated village along a highway in the interior of British Columbia.   It is beyond imagination that such a “senior’s apartment” could exist there.  Back before the dominance of the internet, I once got a scam letter saying that if I enter this contest and win, a jet would be landing at the McBride “Airport” to whisk me away to some fabulous vacation.  I would like to see a jet land on McBride’s airfield.
    Anyway, I guess a good question to ask is how did the “Senior Apartment” thing happen.  I assume because our internet comes from a small business in Valemount, the scammers used that information and set their senior apartments scam there.  If we lived in Vancouver, or Los Angeles, I guess this ad would seem so ludicrous, but to anyone living in the rural Robson Valley it is just a joke.

Check out my paintings:

Monday 27 November 2017

Wind at the Airfield

    To us it seems that one of the windiest places in the Robson Valley is the McBride Airfield.  For a change, we decided to do our afternoon walk there yesterday, and even though it wasn’t that windy at home when we left, when we got to the airfield there was a very brisk wind blowing.  Not only were we treated to the buffeting winds, but also had to deal with the horizontal rain.
    You might suspect that it is a windy place by looking at the windsock with its ragged end, that has been battered into fringe by the constant wind.  Not only was the windsock horizontal, but also the wind generator, that was whirring and being given a workout.

You can  check out my paintings at:

Sunday 26 November 2017

My Fair Lady

    The other day I noticed that they were about to show “My Fair Lady” on the classic movie channel.  I had seen bits of the movie, but had never been able to watch film in its entirety , so I recorded it.  I have been watching it and have really been enjoying it.  It took me back to my junior year in high school.
    My high school was well known for putting on big productions of musicals, and was in the My Fair Lady that they did that year.   I had a very minor role (someone called “Selsey man”) and I did speak a few lines during the first scene.  I remember saying “There’s a ‘tec taykin’ ‘er down” (meaning there was a detective writing down what she was saying.)  Beside the few lines I spoke, I was also one of the dancers and I sang in the chorus.
    I knew nothing of the story or music, but night after night for about two months, when we weren’t required to be on stage, I usually sat in the auditorium and watched and listened.  I got to really love the  music.  The lyrics were clever and fun and the melodies were beautiful.  Since then I have always had a warm  spot for My Fair Lady.
    Being able to watch the movie really got all those songs reverberating in my brain again.  I especially like:  “I Could Have Danced All Night”, “On the Street Where You Live”, “I’m an Ordinary Man”, and “I’ve Grown Accustom to Her Face.”  
    For me music is always strongly associated with a particular time place, and I was nice to be briefly whisked back to that enjoyable time of my youth when in high school.
    Below is a program from our big high school production.

You can view my paintings:

Saturday 25 November 2017

Santa Comes to Town

    Jolly old St. Nick came into McBride last night.  I guess Santa comes every year for a pre-Christmas visit, but this is the first time I have been in the Elk’s Hall to witness his arrival.  There was a long, crowded line up of children memorizing their list of wants, along with parents with their cameras ready.  
    I was there because I got roped in to singing with and accompanying a group of carolers, but as often happens, most of the carolers were a no-show, and so there were only four of us to sing, and the “accompanying” was done with just me on guitar, and Dorothy on Hawaiian guitar.  We did what we could, but luckily we were only supposed to create background music and there was so much ambient noise from the kids and parents yakking away that we didn’t really matter much.
    The event seemed to be a big success with all the nervous kids, happy parents, photographs, and hot chocolate.  Looks like the kids below even dressed up in Christmas garb for the occasion.  I guess the Season is upon us.

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Friday 24 November 2017

Hey, I Know That Car!

    For years now I have been using Joan’s old cast-off iPhone.  Lately the battery charge has been getting shorter and shorter, so I bought myself a new one.  Last night I was loading up all of the apps that I had on the old one, and then I started trying out those apps on my new phone.
    One of the apps I like is Google Earth.  I zoomed in to our house, then zoomed over to McBride.  As I was perusing the town from above, I noticed the “Street View” option so tried that out.  The photos were taken a few years ago.  
    As I slowly worked my way down Main Street, I was suddenly surprised;  there was our old Subaru parked by the bank.  The fact that the car window is rolled down means that our dog Skye is probably snoozing on the back seat.  I know all that is not exciting to you, but it was a thrill for me.
    This is the second surprise I have gotten from Street View.  After Google first began doing it down in the States, I was trying it out on my old neighborhood, and there was a photo of my uncle out working in his garden.  (This was before they began blurring people.)
     I know technology has moved much beyond Street View, but I am still amazed at this “old” technology.  When I worked for the Forest Service, I used to be in charge of the air photos of our district.  I loved to look through them an see how things looked from above.  Those photos were taken from aircraft.  When we started getting some prints of satellite images of our area taken in the 1990’s I was extremely fascinated with them.  Now such things have become mundane; with Google Earth you can view any place on Earth from your home--Amazing!

My paintings can be seen at:

Wednesday 22 November 2017

The Last Tomatoes

    The photo, which I took last week, shows the last of our “fresh” garden tomatoes.  (They weren’t really fresh in the normal sense of the word because I picked them when they were green several months ago.)  Now they too have been eaten and we will have to rely on the tasteless tomato-looking things they sell at the grocery store.
    Luckily Joan did can some of our tomatoes, and we froze some more, so we still have some of our tasty tomatoes that we can use for cooking.  I do love tomatoes and the home grown ones are so much more delicious than those that we can get at the grocery.  We will now have to wait until next August before we can experience that taste again.

You can view my paintings at:

Tuesday 21 November 2017

A Beautiful Day

    We experienced abysmal weather on Sunday, with grey skies, wet snow, rain, and more wet snow, but all was forgiven after the truly beautiful day we were given yesterday.  The air was clear, the sun was beaming down, the temperatures mild (just below freezing) and it was perfectly calm with no wind.  The mountains looked pristine with the trees that carpet them covered with snow.
    I fell way behind as we took our walk at Horseshoe Lake because I was so busy taking photos.  The shot you see above is of Beaver Mountain.  I love the way the avalanche chutes and contours of the mountain are emphasized by the bright sunlight and shadows.  The wispy cloud is nice too.  I vote for more winter days like Monday.

My paintings can be seen at:

Monday 20 November 2017

Our Plank Bridge


    The photo shows the plank bridge that we have to cross every day when we do our walk around the pond.  The water you see is the pond’s outflow and although the pond is now frozen, so far this winter the outflow’s running water has kept it from freezing.  Our dog Skye likes to stop on the bridge and get herself a drink of water whenever we cross over.

You can view my paintings:

Sunday 19 November 2017

McBride Christmas Fair, 2017

    Yesterday I participated in something I have been participating in for several decades--the annual McBride Christmas Fair.  Over the years I have sold my mohair yarn, McBride T-shirts, hand-painted Christmas tree ornaments, buttons, and photos.  Lately it has mostly been my cartoon calendars that I have been flogging.
    This year along with the calendars I sold art cards and prints of my paintings.  I always seem to do well at the event and make a profit.  Yesterday I sold 60 calendars and 18 of my cards.   The two local Christmas fairs are the big selling opportunities for me, although I do have works in gallery at the train station and up at the Prince George Art Gallery.
    Now that this fair is over I can settle back and count all my money--just joking, I am always happy if I just pay for my expenses and make a bit more on top of that.
    The McBride fair was at the community hall this year instead of the high school gym (they didn’t want to ruin their new wooden gym floor at the high school).  The venue was a bit cramped for both vendors and buyers, but it was a very attractive  space.  The crowds were steady and as always I got to visit and catch up with the news with a lot of friends and acquaintances as they shuffled past my table.

You can check out my paintings at:

Friday 17 November 2017

Diminishing Daylight

    While the Winter Solstice is still a month away, the shortening of daylight is becoming more and more obvious to us.  The walks around the pond that used to be done in the bright sunshine at this hour, we now do in the near dark.  I took this photo on our walk yesterday.  It was taken at 4:20 PM.  In another month if we continue these walks we will need to wear headlamps.

Take a look at my paintings:

Thursday 16 November 2017

Adolescent Aspen

    This photo of Aspen trunks and weeds feels very Japanese to me.  Of course instead of Aspen, a Japanese image would feature bamboo.  

You can view my paintings at:

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Tuck Those Legs in, Lucifer.

    I have always admired cats for their ability to totally surrender to a state of complete relaxation.  However sometimes when Lucifer is relaxing I wonder why she chose the position she did.  I took this photo the other day when Lucifer was snoozing on the couch (she opened her eyes when I came back with the camera).
    I wondered if she had her legs tucked under because she was cold, but it really wasn’t that chilly in the house, maybe she was just feeling insecure.

My paintings can be seen at:

Tuesday 14 November 2017

A Snowy Beaver Mountain

    We experienced above freezing temperatures yesterday (5C, 41F) for our afternoon walk.  Beaver Mountain had gotten a dump of snow while we were getting rain and it was moody and partially obscured by cloud.  Here are two shots I took of the mountain which is located east of McBride, BC.

You can view my paintings:

Monday 13 November 2017

The Peanut Butter Log

    The most popular and active part of my yard right now is the peanut butter log.  It is an old piece of firewood that I drilled some holes in and hung from a tree.  Every morning during the winter I fill the holes with peanut butter, and the birds love it.  It attracts the Red Breasted Nuthatch (in photo), as well as Chickadees, Downy, and Hairy Woodpeckers.  
    Squirrels also sneak in to get their share, and in the past I have had Flying Squirrels digging out the peanut butter at night if there is anything left.   Mule Deer also come around and stretch their necks and tongues to get to the fatty treat.   
    Supplying peanut butter all winter long can be a pricy expense, so I generally try to buy it at Costco where I can get  big jars.   It is worth the money because I enjoy seeing all the critters out in the yard.

You can see my paintings:

Sunday 12 November 2017

Lucifer on a Post

    Our dog Skye and I take a walk around the pond in the morning.  This morning Lucifer, our cat joined us as she often does.  She generally lags behind.  This morning as Skye and I got to the dam on the far end of the pond, I looked back to see how far behind Lucifer was.  I scanned the path on the other side to find her, but she was nowhere to be seen.
    As my eye ran across the entire trail, I finally discovered her, perched on a fence post.  As Skye and I got back to the path leading to the house, I called Lucy, and she scrambled down the post and sprinted back toward us.

You can view my paintings at:

Saturday 11 November 2017

White Insulation

    I love snow, but I’m not too crazy about really cold temperatures.  This time of year especially I am hoping for lots of snow to fall.  Not just because it creates a scenic “winter wonderland”, but also because it provides insulation to the house and ground.  
    You can see by the photo of our house that there is snow on the roof, but there is really not enough to insulate it very well.  The house is already well insulated with 12 inches (30cm) of insulation on the roof, and the additional 3 inches of snow doesn’t make much difference, but when it piles up to another foot or 18 inches (45cm), it does make it a lot easier to heat the house.  
    We always shovel a lot of snow around the houses foundation and on the flower gardens for extra insulation.  
    I don’t like winters where we get a cold spell first without a lot of snow.  I always have a fear of our waterline freezing up if we get a really cold snap and don’t have a lot of snow on the ground to protect it.  It is the fluffy snow that insulates the best.  The snow we presently have has compressed and turned icy, so it doesn’t help us much.  The forecast is for a lot of possible flurries, so that might slowly build up the snow layer if we don’t get rain.

You can see my paintings at:

Friday 10 November 2017

Wow, Newspapers!

    Last night we were visiting with some friends who had recently moved from their rural Robson Valley home to the subdivision in McBride.  As we talked, I noticed a newspaper on the table besides our host’s chair, so I asked him if they now subscribe to the Prince George newspaper.  
    He said he didn’t, but they often walk over to the gas station where they buy them.  
    “Do you have any old ones?’ I wondered.
    “Yes, we have a whole pile that we were going to recycle.  Do you want them?”
    Do I want them?   This time of year for us old newspapers are like gold.  We use them daily to start the fire in our wood stove.  Later on when it gets really cold, we keep the fire going 24-7 and don’t need them, but when it is just mildly cold we let the fire burn out over night so we have to light a new one every morning and for that we need newspapers.
    Locally we have two newspapers, but they are very small in volume and only come out once a week, so we sometimes run out when we need them for a fire.  We try to get old newspapers at the library, but often someone has beaten us to them.  To find a new source of the things with our friends was a real godsend.  
    To re-enforce the importance of newspapers to us, last time we drove down to Indiana to visit relatives, I noticed a stack of old newspapers in my uncle’s shed, and I asked him for them.  We hauled them all the way back 4000 km (2500miles) from Indiana.  
    I guess this all proves the old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

You can view my paintings at:

Thursday 9 November 2017

Battles Lost and Won by Beryl Matthews

    Here’s another book review for you.
Battles Lost and Won by Beryl Matthews (novel downloaded from the McBride Library's OverDrive site)
       This was a novel about two poor neighboring families living near the London docks.  The story begins at the end of World War I.  Both the fathers of the households are still away in the military which has caused a struggle for both families.  One of the families, the Hunters are experiencing especially hard times because the mother is very ill, forcing sixteen year old Bob to work on the dock in an attempt to provide food and shelter. But his job is lost as the war ends and returning soldiers are given the jobs and he is laid off. 
      Bob is very stressed because of his ailing mother and convinces himself all will be well once his father returns from the war.  It is a great shock to him when it finally happens and he discovers the war has made his father a helpless drunk. When Bob comes home from a temporary job and discovers his mother has died and his father still drunk, passed out in his chair, Bob loses all respect and hope for his father. 
      Luckily his neighbors, the Coopers, whose father has now returned, take control of things and organize the funeral, and look after Bob, who is still furious at his father. A few days after the funeral, Bob just packs up and leaves without telling anyone where he is going.  This distresses everyone, especially young Ruthie Cooper, Bob's best friend and Alf, Bob's  father, who is so hurt at his son's abandonment that with the Cooper's help, goes "cold turkey" and kicks his alcohol problem. 
       When runaway Bob arrives for a morning interview for a job as a stable hand, he finds the wealthy owner of the manor drinking and is so disgusted, he verbally chastises the owner, telling him his drinking will destroy his family. This impresses Capt. Russell who as a result of Bob's scolding, does stop his drinking, and hires Bob for the stable. The captain feels an obligation to help Bob for having urged him to stop his drinking, that he secretly goes and finds Bob's father to tell him Bob is safe. Upon discovering this, Bob goes stupid and leaves the manor for places unknown. 
       Captain Russell, during his visit with Bob's father sought to help both of the neighboring London families and offered Ruthie a job as a maid. She later arrives at the manor, anxious to see Bob again, only to discover he has left. She takes the job though to help her family, and like Bob, impresses the Russell family with her skills.  A jealous housekeeper who felt she should have gotten Ruthie's job, steals a ruby broach and plants it under Ruthie's pillow. Despite Ruthie's plea of innocence she is not believed and is fired and returns home. 
      Her undeserved firing and accusations of theft enrages her father Steve Cooper, who travels to the manor confronts the Captain and this eventually results in the truth about who the real thief is.  Steve, like Bob and Ruthie before, impresses the Captain who tries to be generous and make things right, but like Bob and Ruthie, Steve is too proud and pig-headed to accept the Captain's offers. 
      Bob in the meantime has taken a job as a physical therapist in a veterans' hospital, learning the skills and working to help wounded soldiers.  Back in London, Steve helps Alf, Bob's still sober father, write about his war experiences from the diary he had kept.  It becomes a successful book which allows Alf to buy a house as an investment.  Things seem to be improving for the two families when tragedy hits. 
       Will Bob ever return home and reconcile with his father?  Will Captain Russell ever be able to help the two prideful London families?  Will Bob's new skills as a physical therapist ever come in handy?  Will Ruthie and Bob ever become best friends again?  I guess you will just have to read the book. 

When I'm not reading, I paint.  See my works at:

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Fraser River Ice Floes

    Lucky us (?), we are getting an early start to winter.  We have been experiencing frigid temperatures weeks before we should and the ice floes are already traveling down the Fraser River, about 3 weeks ahead of schedule.  The photos you see were taken last week and the floes have increased in numbers since then.  Now you see more ice than water. 
    Soon the surface of the river will be completely covered with ice.

Check out my paintings at:

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Moon Shots

    Here are a couple of photos I took recently during our recent full moon.  Our weather has been very cold and clear.  The top photo was taken early in the morning and shows the moon’s light  being reflected on the ice surface of the pond.  The lower photo shows the moon being reflected in a hole in the ice.

You can view my paintings at:

Monday 6 November 2017

Fraser River at Tete Jaune

    It is often frustrating for me to be driving somewhere in the Robson Valley in the early morning.  The lighting creates a lot of photo-worthy scenes, and it is hard for me not to stop every five minutes to take a picture.  That was the situation on Saturday as I drove to Valemount for the Christmas Fair.
    All along the way I saw frost on the trees, and they were being backlit by the rising sun.  I just shook my head in frustration and drove on, fearing I would be late for the fair.
    I took the shortcut at Tete Jaune which goes across the old Tete Jaune bridge.  While crossing the bridge I happened to look east, and I could no longer take it, so I stopped the car, got out walked back to the middle of the lonely bridge and took this photo of the backlit trees and mist rising from the river.  
    As I looked through the camera to frame the shot I noticed that the indicator on my camera was blinking showing that the battery needed recharging, but happily the picture turned out fine.

You can see my paintings at:

Sunday 5 November 2017

Valemount Christmas Fair, 2017

    The Christmas Fair season has begun.  Yesterday I made the hour-long drive to Valemount, to sell my calendars, art cards, and prints at the event.  I have been selling at the fair for decades, and I always enjoy re-connecting to the Valemount crowd that I see there every year.  This year my table was located between people from McBride and Dome Creek that I didn’t know so I was able to also meet them.
    I did about the same amount of business that I normally do with my calendars.  Again I sold enough of them to pay for the printing, so the ones I sell at the McBride Fair and the Whistlestop Gallery will all be profit.  New this year were my cards and prints of paintings and I sold a handful of cards and one of the prints, so I am slowly recouping my expenses for them.  
    It will be couple of weeks now before the McBride Christmas Fair, which gives me some time to bind the rest of my calendars.  That fair will be on Nov. 18th, this year at the Community Hall instead of the high school.

You can see my paintings at:

Friday 3 November 2017

Hole in the Ice

    Our current blast of frigid weather (-15C, 5F) has left my pond covered with a layer of ice.  I do have some running water from from our gravity-feed water system flowing into the pond, and I suspect that is what keeps this hole in the ice open.  It was nice to see the silvery reflection of the sky mirrored in the small puddle of open water.

My paintings can be viewed at:

Thursday 2 November 2017

Suddenly, It's Winter

    Although we haven’t experience much snow yet (at present there is only about 2-3 inches on the ground) the cold weather is moving in.  The forecast for tonight calls for -15C (5F) and for Sunday night -20C (-4F).  Today to help us acclimatize a cold biting northern wind is blowing.
    I will always remember our first winter in Canada when I was teaching in a one room school up at Takla Lake.  On Halloween the temperatures dipped below freezing and didn’t get above it for several months.  Because that was our first winter up here I assumed that was the way it always was.  I was surprised then in later years when the temperatures rose above freezing and we sometimes got periods of rain during the winter.  
    I does seem though that Halloween is usually the turning point when it starts getting cold or we get a lot of snow.

You can view my paintings:

Wednesday 1 November 2017


    A couple of evenings ago I was up putting calendars together when Joan interrupted me and said there was a really colorful sunset going on.  She was right.

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