Sunday 30 September 2018

"Looming," My Latest Painting

    In most of my past paintings, they are what they appear to be, nothing deeper, however I have been becoming increasingly distressed at what is happening in this world we all share--we are loosing it, piece by piece.  The ecosystems that keep us alive are slowly being destroyed.  One of the most effective comparisons I have heard about what is happening is that our earth’s environment is like a plane flying through the air.  You can start pulling rivets out of the fuselage as you fly and still remain airborne, however, eventually you will pull out a rivet and the plane will crash.
    That is what I was trying to get at in this latest painting.  
    This painting is 24” by 18” and was done with acrylics on canvas.  It took me 92 hours to complete.

You can see my other paintings at:

Saturday 29 September 2018

More Robson Valley Autumn

    The colors in this photo  (which was taken at the same time as yesterday’s photos) are much more subdued because this scene, unlike yesterday’s, was getting no direct sunlight.  Although the colors are not as brilliant, I think they are still very beautiful.  The light you are seeing over on the mountains is rain that is falling.

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Friday 28 September 2018

Sunlight on Yellow Aspen

    The Autumn in the Robson Valley is in peak color right now.  Fortunately in the evening yesterday the clouds broke up enough to allow some sunshine to come streaming down upon the yellow Aspen trees.  The effect of the brightly lit trees against the shaded mountains was quite dramatic.   Here are a couple of examples.

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Thursday 27 September 2018

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

       The theme for this month’s McBride Library Book Club was “Gardens and Flowers”  and I guess because “Flowers for Algernon” had the word “Flowers" in the title, it was one of the suggested novels, and it’s description sounded interesting.
    It is a science fiction novel that has nothing to do with flowers or gardens, but instead follows the life of Charlie, a thirty year old individual with a very low IQ (70), who works as a janitor in a bakery.  Charlie is good natured, but very naive, and enjoys the camaraderie of the others that work in the bakery, not realizing that they are usually just making fun of his stupidity, and laughing at him. 
       He knows he is not smart, and tries to “get smarter” by attending a night class to help his reading.  His teacher, Alice is so impressed with his desire and determination to better himself that she passes off his name to a group of psychologists and psychiatrists, who are researching a medical procedure that, in mice, seems to increase intelligence.  The “Algernon”in the book’s title is the name of their most intelligent laboratory mouse whose IQ has been doubled by the procedure. 
        Charlie is slated to become first human subject for the procedure.  Before that happens, he is put through all kinds of tests to establish his mental capabilities.  In one series of tests, he has to actually “race” Algernon, with Charlie attempting to complete a maze puzzle on paper. while at the same time, Algernon the mouse, is racing through his maze.  Charlie always loses. 
       After the procedure is performed on Charlie, his mental capacity slowly begins to increase, he soon is able to beat Algernon, and as time passes he becomes so intelligent that his abilities begin to exceed those of the scientists that are working with him.  He achieves his lifelong desire of becoming smarter, but it is not the gift he had thought it would be.  
    He discovers his “friends” back at the bakery were just making fun of him, and he begins to see the pettiness and cruelty in others, including his parents, who had cruelly abandoned him as a child.   As the memories of his childhood begin to return, he becomes increasingly depressed. 
    Everyone he knows become intimidated by his intelligence, and he looses the companionship of all of those he knows.  
    His unhappiness turns to fear when it is discovered that Algernon’s abilities suddenly begin a rapid deterioration, and Charlie begins to wonder if this will soon happen to him. 
       Beside the storyline, the other thing that made this novel so interesting was the way it was written.  The entire story was written in the first person, by Charlie, in the form of his “Progress Reports” that he had to write daily before and after the procedure.  In his first progress reports he used only simple words, many misspelled, without punctuation, then as his intellect increased, so did his vocabulary and grammar. 
   While I generally don’t read much science fiction, I did enjoy reading this unusual novel. 

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Wednesday 26 September 2018

Red-Osier Dogwood

    For the most part, Autumn colors in the Central Interior of British Columbia tend to be painted with the yellow hues.  There are some exceptions, one of which is the Red-Osier Dogwood, a common bushy plant that grows in the forest which is a favorite food for moose.  The leaves of the sprawling bush add a red accent to all the shades of yellow and yellowish greens that predominate in the woods.  Here are a couple of photos of the plant I took this rainy morning while walking around the pond.

My paintings are on display at:

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Fall Fog

    This is how the slope above our house looked this morning.  The fog we woke up to is slow to burn off.  The leaves of the Aspen and Birch are in transition from green to yellow.  I have been hoping for about a week of sunny warm fall weather to clear out my garden, but I might have to wait a while.

You can take a look at my paintings:

Sunday 23 September 2018

Apple Pie Day

    Yesterday, Joan and I joined with about 50 other residents of the Robson Valley to make 400 apple/blueberry pies.  The pies are sold to raise money for the museum.  It is a yearly event and like in previous years I was sitting in front of a small contraption that both peeled, cored, and sliced the apples.  While the machine worked well for most of the apples, it totally failed on others, which had to be peeled and sliced by hand.  These failures were extremely frustrating to me.
    As always the apple pie production was well organized and efficient, and even though the work was not hard, Joan and I were both exhausted when it was all over and all of the finished pies were sitting on racks, ready to be picked up by their new owners.

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Saturday 22 September 2018

Plums Aplenty

    After last year’s bumper crop of plums which made the branches of our plum tree bend down with it’s burden, I figured that this year the tree would ease off a bit and relax, but that is not what happened.  Again this year the tree is straining with all of the plums it produced. 
    Last year we ate a lot of plums fresh, I dried a lot of them, we gave a pails of them away, and we still had plums left over.  Looks like this year will be the same.

You can see my paintings at:

Friday 21 September 2018

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

    For September’s McBride Library Book Club, we were supposed to read a book with the words “Garden” or “Flower” in the title.  I read two novels.   Here is my review of The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, which was the first book I read.

      This book starts out with a puzzling event:  In 1913, a four year old girl is taken aboard a passenger ship in London by someone she knew only as “the authoress” and was told to hide behind some barrels until the authoress returned. The authoress never returned, the ship sailed, and weeks later, after the ship arrives at its destination in Australia, the four year old girl was dropped off and left alone on the dock, with no one to pick her up. 
       The novel is written as a mystery, slowly piecing together the clues so that the reader can eventually, at the end of the book, discover why this happened.  Some of the clues are gleaned from the old fairy tales published by the authoress.
      The storyline of this novel was much more complex than I imagined when I picked it up.  It not only includes threads of the life story of the girl, but also her mother, and her grand-daughter, all of which spans a  time period of more than a century. 
       The thing that makes the story so complex, is the jumbled way the chapters are presented.  Instead of using chronological order of events, one chapter may be about the young girl, the next may be about the girl’s grand daughter, the next follows the young girl as an elderly lady, so a lot of mental sewing has to be done by the reader to keep all the pieces of the mystery together.
      I managed to somehow do that, and while I was sometimes disoriented with all of the bouncing around, I enjoyed the journeys that finally all got me to the conclusion, where all was made clear. The garden mentioned in the title was a walled in garden overlooking the ocean back in England that became more important toward the end of the novel. 

Take a look at my paintings, many of which feature gardens:

Thursday 20 September 2018

Fairy Rings

    I have  been noticing a lot of fairy rings popping up on lawns in the Robson Valley.  Folklore tells us that fairy rings are where fairies danced in a circle during the night.  The result of their dancing was a ring of mushrooms.  
    Botanists have another explanation.  They tell us that the mushrooms, a fungus, most of which grows underground began at a single point, then each year from that central point their mycelium (a root-like structure) grows outwards in all directions, and the fungus sends up a mushroom at the end of the mycelium.  Each year the mycelium grows out further, so the mushrooms make a larger circle on the surface each year.
    Here are two of the fairy rings I saw this fall.

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Wednesday 19 September 2018

More From Sheep Dog Trials

    I am still thinking about the Sheep Dog Trials that took place in McBride over the weekend.  What an amazing display of cooperation between the dogs and their masters.  On Saturday afternoon we watched the trials for the “hotshot” dogs.  
    Three sheep were released way down in a pasture across the creek, and the dog who was with it’s master on a hill overlooking the creek, told the dog to go down to get them.  The dog raced down the hill, across the creek to the sheep, eager to get to work.
    The dog’s owner, still standing on the hill, whistled and yelled, instructing the dog to herd the sheep through some gates, then across the bridge on the creek, up the hill, through some more gates, and finally into a pen on top of the hill.  Watching the dog and master working together was a very impressive experience.  

You can view my paintings:

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Jam Night

    Yippee, it’s Tuesday again.  Every Tuesday night we have our music jam at the library, something I thoroughly enjoy, and look forward to each week.  I never know what combination of musicians are going to show up, although we have some regulars, like me, who are alway there to play music.  Some of the best fun I have had in my life has been playing music with others, and that is what our Tuesday Night Jam is all about.
    Last Tuesday I took my camcorder and recorded the session.  I just set the camera on the piano so the photography is really static, but I do now have a video of the session.  It is very sobering to see and hear yourself, and I hate it, but I think it is a learning experience that will help lead to improvements.   Unfortunately, I haven't been able to post the video on this internet site, but I will post a video of one of our songs at the link below if you want to watch and hear us play.


Monday 17 September 2018

Robin Food

    “What do Robin’s eat?”
    Up until yesterday, if someone would have asked me that question I would have answered, “Worms and insects,”  but now I know differently.  They also eat berries, and cherries.  
    Joan noticed a lot of bird activity on our Mountain Ash tree, and I assumed it was Cedar Waxwings that had congregated to eat the red berries, but upon closer inspection, I saw that it was a small flock of Robins that were doing all of the eating.  They were also flying over to the nearby cherry tree to feast on the left over cherries.  
    What an education we would get if we just spent more time looking at things instead of just making assumptions.
You can see my paintings:

Sunday 16 September 2018

Tribute to Trevor Jones

    When our friend and painter Trevor Jones passed away in March, he left a lot of paintings in his basement.  Since McBride’s old library remains unsold and empty, it was decided to stage an exhibition of Trevor’s work in the building as a tribute to his artistry.  The show opened last night, and will be open again this afternoon (Sunday) from 1:00 - 4:30.  
    Trevor was a very accomplished painter, and the old library building radiated with the colors and mountains in his paintings.  A lot of local friends and acquaintances turned up for the show.  We were all sorry that Trevor couldn’t be there to see so many of his paintings on display for the community he loved.


You can see MY paintings at:

Saturday 15 September 2018

Sheep Dog Trials

    Sheep dogs and their masters from all over BC have gathered in McBride this weekend for the Sheep Dog Trials that are being held at Jennifer and Dave Larrivee”s place on Red Tail Road (just off of Museum Road, below the railway under pass, west of McBride.)  Joan and I went out to watch the Novice Class yesterday evening.  I am amazed at the tight discipline of the sheep dogs, even in the Novice Class.
    Today (Saturday afternoon) the hot-shot dogs will be put through their paces, and Joan and I plan to go out again to watch them herd the sheep through several obstacles.  If you are going, it’s nice to bring a pair of binoculars to more closely watch the interplay between the herders, their dogs, and the sheep.

You can see my paintings at:

Friday 14 September 2018

Pickin' Peppers

    Yesterday I could see from our weather forecast that we were going to be getting a killing frost overnight (-5C, 23F).  I had harvested most of the fragile vegetables from the garden, and decided, since I don’t have any heat in the greenhouse, that I would just go ahead and pick the remaining tomatoes and chili peppers in the greenhouse.
    The photo shows my pepper harvest.  I had Green peppers, Jalapeno peppers, Ancho peppers, Serrano peppers, some Hungarian Wax peppers, and others.  A few of them could have matured a bit longer in the greenhouse, had not the freezing weather intervened.  Some of these we will use in their fresh state, others I will dry for later use.

I see my painting of a previous year's peppers at:

Thursday 13 September 2018

Herbicidal Frankenplants

    Joan and I used to do quite a few of our walks down the runway of the McBride Airfield.  Beside the wide view of the Valley, one of the attractions for me was the many unique plants that were growing along the margins of the tarmac.  I saw a lot of flowers that were otherwise uncommon in our part of the Robson Valley.
    Although the plants growing in the gravelly margins were never thick or high, I guess the people in charge got tired of mowing the strip and thought it would be easier just to poison the margins, so they applied herbicides.  That was several years ago, and now I cringe at the “Frankenplants” that now grow there.  While some of the mosses remain, the other unique plants have now been replaced with invasive weeds and other ugly plants.  What a loss.
    The photo above shows what is growing there now, and the photos below show some of the plants that I used to enjoy seeing that were poisoned and are now gone.

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Wednesday 12 September 2018

A schizophrenic Sky

    We experienced a schizophrenic sky yesterday when we took our walk.  The photo above shows what the sky looked like south of us, and the photo at the bottom shows what we saw when we turned our eyes to the east.  Luckily, the rain drops didn’t start falling until we finished the walk and got back into the car.

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Tuesday 11 September 2018


    People are pretty season-oriented in the Robson Valley, and although it is subtle, it’s hard not to notice that the page is starting to turn away from Summer and onto Autumn.  The leaves on the trees and bushes are slowly loosing their green in preference for hues of yellow.

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Monday 10 September 2018

Pressing Apples

    Yesterday when I was walking past the garden, I glanced over at the apple tree just in time to see an apple drop to the ground--they were ready to pick.  As luck would have it, the Three River’s Coop was having an apple pressing day in the afternoon, so I picked all of the apples from the tree, and we drove to Dunster to get them turned into apple cider.
    Their home-made apple press is a fairly simple machine.  Apples are feed into a grinder that chews the apples into chunks which fall into a wooden bucket made of wooden slates.  When the bucket is full it is put under the presser which is hand turned, lowering the top on the bucket and squeezing the juice out of the apple pieces.  The juice runs down to a hole where it is collected in a bucket.
    Joan and I had 10 gallons of apples and we got about 2 gallons of delicious cider, and we had an interesting afternoon making it with other people who were also pressing their apples.  Below are shots showing apples being washed, pressed, and some of our apple cider.

You can see my paintings at:

Sunday 9 September 2018

Cones on the Roof

    We have a tall spruce tree beside our house.  Over the past week we have heard a constant, “Bong,” “Plop. “ Bing,” as a squirrel harvests the spruce cones from the top of the tree and drops them down, hitting our metal roof.  He will soon gather them up and hide the seeds for winter food.  The little guy keeps busy with this chore, and I will be happy when he finishes disturbing the peace.

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Saturday 8 September 2018

Hazy Mountains

    Our mountains have been partially obscured by smoke a lot this summer.  The haze does give the viewer a better sense of distance and the topography when looking toward the horizon.  Here are some photos.

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Friday 7 September 2018

Miniature Mushrooms

    While wandering along the trails in the Ancient Forest, I came upon this clump of tiny mushrooms growing on the base of a Cedar tree.  Perhaps you can get an idea of the scale of the mushrooms from the fragments of moss and the brown Cedar needle. 
    As we move closer to Autumn we will be seeing more of the many varieties of mushrooms that grow in the forests of the Robson Valley.  When talking about mushrooms, I always like to tell people that “mushrooms” that you see above ground, are just the fruiting body of the plant, most of which is growing underground, and unseen.

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Thursday 6 September 2018

Ancient Forest: Running Water

    Since the Ancient Forest is an Inland Rainforest, you might expect to see a lot of creeks and brooks running through it.  There are a few, but not that many.  Most of the rain that falls is sucked into the mosses and other ground cover and creates a constant flow underground.  It is that underground flow which has enabled the big Cedars to grow and thrive for a thousand years.  
    Even though there is a huge underground flow, there are a few streams above ground.  These babbling brooks, and rocky creeks are a treat to experience both visually and in the sounds they make as they flow around and over the moss covered rocks.  Here are a couple of photos.

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Wednesday 5 September 2018

I Guess It's Time We Picked the Apples

    Yesterday I walked outside and saw this deer brazenly eating the apples off of the apple tree in our yard.  Every year at this time it is always a race between us getting fruit off of the trees and the animals getting the fruit.  I don’t mind sharing, the trees generally produce more than we will use, but all too often we wake up to find all of the fruit gone, and sometimes the trees have been thrashed to pieces.  Bears are the worst vandals, but so far this year I haven’t seen any bears in our yard.
    We do have several fruit trees behind our garden fence and they are more secure from the thievery.  

You can view my paintings:

Tuesday 4 September 2018

Ancient Forest: Music in the Woods

    One of the impressionable memories I have from the Grand Opening of the Ancient Forest was walking down one of the trails, humbled by the gigantic trees and green that surrounded me, and hearing, off in the distance, the music of strings that seemed floating in the forest.  It was the Robson Valley String Ensemble that was playing in one of the boarded overlooks.
    While it seemed strange to come upon a group of stringed instrument musicians in the middle of the bush, the music fit in wonderfully with the verdant garden that I was walking through.  As I watched them they played a song from the soundtrack of “Legends of the Fall” and I have always been a sucker for movie soundtracks, so I couldn’t help but to be impressed.  Hopefully, the video below will work for you and you can hear the song.

You can see my paintings:

Monday 3 September 2018

Ancient Forest: Sprites

    Not only did residents from the Robson Valley and Prince George turn out for the Grand Opening of the Ancient Forest, as you can see from the photos, a few of the normally secretive forest creatures also made an appearance and joined in the celebration.  Some skeptics believed it was really just the Robson Valley actors, who had donned costumes to enchant the kids and their parents along the trails through  the dark forest.

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Sunday 2 September 2018

Ancient Forest: Official Opening

    Although the Ancient Forest has been designated a Provincial Park for a while now, and has been open to the public, it wasn’t until yesterday that they had the official opening.  A surprising number of people came for the ceremony, and as you might expect, there were speeches by politicians, booths with information, and food, but there were also some interesting things happening in the forest, which I will blog about on other days.
    The huge parking lot was full and people had to park in an overflow area and be bused to the event.  A bus had come from McBride with locals who wanted to attend.  The trails that meander and weave through the giant Cedars were crowded and people had to squeeze to one side of the boardwalks to allow others to pass by.
    The dark forest of Cedars, ferns, Devil’s Club, and moss, remained an inspiration despite the crowds, and I am always happy to see others share the experience.
More tomorrow.

My paintings can be seen at:

Saturday 1 September 2018

There's Snow on Those Hills

    The rains we have been getting on the Valley bottom have been falling as snow on the local mountain tops.  We have been getting more and more hints that Autumn is on its way.   The photo shows the dusting of the white stuff that Beaver Mountain got the other day.

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