Friday 30 November 2018

Losing Ice

    The surface of my pond, that had been covered with ice, is back to being mostly water as a result of the very mild temperatures we have been getting.  I took this photo yesterday showing what is left of the ice on the shady side of the pond.  The weather forecast predicts colder weather ahead in the next couple of days, so the open water will only be a temporary condition, it is almost December after all.

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Thursday 29 November 2018

After the War is Over by Jennifer Robson

After The War is Over by Jennifer Robson
     I came upon this book at the free Dunster Swap Shed, and grabbed it since I really enjoy historical fiction, and especially the period around World War I.  It didn’t disappoint.  The story takes place in Liverpool, just at the end of the war, with some flashbacks to give background to the plot. 
      The main character is Charlotte who as the novel opens, works as part of the staff of one of the first female politicians in England, helping people who have been left destitute and struggling after the war.  As a rare female university graduate, she couldn’t find employment after graduation, and in desperation, had taken a tutoring job teaching Lilly, the youngest daughter of an aristocratic family.   In those years she had spent tutoring, she and Lilly form a very close relationship.  
      Also during those tutoring years, a mutual attraction began to grow between Charlotte and Lilly’s older brother Edward, who was the heir to the family’s Lordship position, but both Charlotte and Edward struggle to keep their hopeless relationship plutonic due to their differences in social class. 
      When Lilly, her student turns eighteen and no longer needs a tutor, World War I is raging.  Edward was in France fighting and Charlotte took a job working as a nurse in a hospital that treats solders suffering from neurological disorders or “shell shock” caused by the war.  When the war ended, she moved on to work in the constituency office of the female politician.
       The storyline deals ultimately with Charlotte’s relationship with Edward, who after the war is an amputee, suffering from severe shell shock, but who gains lordship after the death of his father.  He is so emotionally messed up he cannot deal with his new position or life, causing Lilly to call upon Charlotte’s nursing experience to help her brother. You can probably guess where this leads. 
      Like all good historical fiction, the reader is given lots of insight into life and the political movements of the time.  There is the rise of feminism, the social disruption caused by all the human losses in the war, and breakdown of the class system. 
      I very much enjoyed “After the War is Over”.  It is a straight forward story, easy to read, which kept my interest all the way through.  I was so impressed with the book, on my next trip to the library I checked-out Somewhere in France, which is Jennifer Robson’s first novel, and a prequel to this one, set during the war and features the same set of characters as this novel. 

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Wednesday 28 November 2018


    Our unusually mild weather has come with a lot of wind.  Over the last couple of days we were supposed to get snow flurries or rain, but instead we got wind.  Our walks which generally consist of walking down a road then turning around and walking back, insures that we will get the wind one way or the other.  Although the daytime temperatures are around +5C (41F) having the wind in your face makes it feel a lot colder.

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Tuesday 27 November 2018

Surprisingly Mild

    The Robson Valley has been experiencing a surprisingly mild Fall temperatures.  This fact really sunk in for me on Saturday after I spent the day inside the gym at the Valemount High School selling at the Christmas Fair.  When it was over and I walked outside I was mildly shocked by the Spring-like weather, and the feeling was re-enforced when I spotted this guy out shooting hoops amidst the sunlight and green grass.  
    I suspect all this will soon be forgotten as colder temperatures, no doubt, will eventually move in.

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Monday 26 November 2018

Power Outage

    If I had a dime for every time we had a wind storm and the power when out, I’d be a rich man. 
    It happened again this morning.  I had finished painting a square, and just settled down to write the blog, when I heard the desperate “beeps” that indicated life was ebbing out of some of my electronic equipment, and then the electricity was gone.  Luckily the power was only out for a few of hours this time.
    We had things to do in town anyway, and McBride still had their power, so we drove in.  On the way down our road I noticed a tree had fallen, pulling a line down, and an hour or so later when we had completed all our town tasks and were driving back home, we saw that BC Hydro repair crews had trucks in two locations along the road, fixing the problem.  They ended up having to replace one of the poles as well as the line.
    So if you noticed that this blog was late, now you know why.

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Sunday 25 November 2018

Valemount Christmas Fair, 2018

    Yesterday I did my annual vending at the Valemount Christmas Fair.  The Village of Valemount is an hour’s drive east of McBride.  I have been going to the Valemount Fair for decades.  For me these Christmas Fairs are as much about catching up with the lives of acquaintances as they are about selling and buying things.  It is the only time all year that I see a lot of these Valemount people.
    I always seem to have a lot of interesting encounters and conversations at these fairs.  Yesterday a couple of maybe 5th grade girls came up to my table, each with a five dollar bill in their hands, and I assumed they were interested in buying one of my cartoon calendars, but they surprised me by buying cards of my paintings.  I heard later from another vendor who saw them walk off that when they took the cards out of the plastic sleeve, they were thrilled to discover they also gotten an envelope.
    I was surprised when a teenager, who I figured was a high school student wanted to buy two of my calendars, and handed me a $100 bill as payment.  Where did a kid get a $100 bill?

    As part of my sales pitch I often tell people to look at their birthday on the trivia calendar to see if anything interesting happened on that day.  I told on high school guy to do that and he checked and I asked him what happened on that day, and he replied, “Some lady rode a horse.”  I didn’t remember any trivia like that so I looked myself.  It was May 31st, and on that date in 1678 Lady Godiva rode the horse through the village.  I had to explain to the guy who Lady Godiva was, and why that ride was interesting.  What’s wrong with male youth of today that they don’t know who Lady Godiva was?
    The day before the fair, I got a call from one of my regular Valemount customers who called asking me to reserve 8 calendars for them.  I was happy to do it.
    It always me feel good when people come up to my table and tell me that they only reason they came to the fair was to get one of my calendars.  One woman walked over and said she had already walked out the door when she remembered she hadn’t bought a calendar, so she came back.
    The Valemount High School, who sponsor the fair always have a lottery for a huge pile of junk food.  There are bags and bags of chips and lots of chocolate bars.  I bought three tickets, but like every other year I failed to win, which is probably a good thing for my health.
    I did quite well at the fair, selling 51 calendars, 17 cards, and 3 big prints of my paintings.  Valemount is the last fair in the season that I participate in, so now I can relax and count my money.

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Friday 23 November 2018

Smell the Coffee

    Here’s a cartoon for you.  Poor Ralph can’t seem to get anything right.

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Thursday 22 November 2018

Bright Clouds

 Sorry, but I don’t have much time to blog, but here is a photo.

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Wednesday 21 November 2018

A Futile Job

    Because of all the road salt and sand that is put on the roads during the winter, the exterior of our car is always very dirty.   It doesn’t help the situation that McBride doesn’t have a carwash.  Our car was filthy before we started our trip up to Prince George on Monday, and after two and a half hours of driving up Hwy. 16,  the layer of crude on the outside of the car had doubled in thickness.
    On our first couple of stops in PG, whenever we had to get anything out of the rear of the car or put something in, our clothes also got dirty from rubbing up against the car.  So we decided that we should take advantage of one of the automated carwashes in Prince.  We paid the $13 dollars, drove our car in, put the gear into neutral, and let the car be guided into the brushes and sprays of the carwash.  Once out the other side, our car sparkled and looked blue.
    Of course the glistening finish on the Subaru didn’t last very long.  We still had to make the 135 mile, (217km) drive back to McBride.  The photo shows what our car looked like by the time we got home.

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Tuesday 20 November 2018

Highway 16 Morning Drive

    We took one of our excursions to Prince George yesterday to stock up on supplies.  During the winter the amount of daylight becomes less and less, so we have to start our drive in near darkness.  While its hard to force ourselves out of bed an hour earlier, if the weather is right, the trip itself does afford some really nice views as the sun rises and sunshine plays across the mountains.  
    Yesterday was one of those days.  Normally on our morning trips I see nice light, but since I am driving I somehow feel a great hesitancy to pull over to take a picture.  It’s not that there is a tremendous amount of traffic to deal with, but I usually just keep driving then down the road a bit I start beating myself up for being so lazy and not stopping for the shot. 
     Yesterday I did make myself stop and I took the photo you see above. 

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Sunday 18 November 2018

McBride Christmas Fair, 2018

    I have been participating in McBride’s Annual Christmas Fair for probably 35 years.  My wares have changed over that time.  I sold hand-dyed mohair yarn, when we had Angora goats, then for a decade I sold McBride Logo T-shirts.   For a score of years I have been selling my trivia and cartoon calendars, and during the last couple of years, prints and cards of my paintings.  The fair was yesterday, so I was there again, flogging my products.
    I had a successful day, selling 60 calendars, 15 cards, and one print.  I have made enough to pay for the printing of the calendars, so next Saturday at the Valemount Christmas Fair all the calendars I sell will be profit.
    The fair is always an important social event for the community, a chance to visit with friends and acquaintances, as they wander the aisles looking for unique gifts and food.  It is one of the things I really enjoy about being there.
    I had one humorous encounter with an older forestry co-worker yesterday.  When I began working at the BC Forest Service, it was always a treat to hear him tell about the funny things that happened in the years before I got there.  He has always been a really funny guy, and I always enjoy running in to him at events.  I had heard that he was getting pretty forgetful.
    Yesterday when he saw me at my table, he came up to me and cracked a few barbs, which I was happy to respond to.  He said he had better by a calendar from me, and asked how much they were.  I told him $6, and he got out his wallet and pulled out a $5 and handed it to me. 
    I told him I needed another Loonie (Canadian $1 coin).  He reached in his pocket and his hand came up empty.
    “I don’t have one, I gave the last one away at the door.”  he explained.  He started jiving me about the price so, after the sad story, I relented and gave him the calendar for $5 ( I would have given it to him for free, but the interaction, and my shaking my head in mock despair was all part of the fun.)  As he walked away with the calendar, he said to someone, loud enough for me to hear of course, that he had been able to bargain me down on the price, (another part of his joshing around).
    About an hour later, his wife wandered by my table.
    “So, you sold my husband a calendar,” she said.
    “Yes,” I replied, “He stiffed me out of a dollar.”
    She smiled and shook her head.  “His forgetfulness is getting really bad, he bought one of your calendars last week at the Whistlestop Gallery.”  she added.
    So I guess I got the last laugh, he bargained me out of a dollar, but I ended up selling him two calendars, when he only needed one.

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Saturday 17 November 2018

Strips of Light

    I always have my eyes searching for interesting or unusual lighting on plants or the landscape.  I was very excited as I drove home from the ukulele jam yesterday afternoon, when I spotted the way bright sunlight had draped itself along the Park Range of the Rockies by Rainbow Creek.
    I wasn’t able to stop on the Fraser River Bridge to get a shot of it, and the electric lines got in the way along the highway, but as I drove along Koeneman Park I was able to get a non-obstructed view of the scene.  I really like this photo.

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Friday 16 November 2018

American War by Omar El Akkad

      I was doubly sad that I missed our last book club gathering at the library, first because I like the get together, and secondly because I had forced myself to read through a book I really didn’t enjoy which had fit last month’s theme.   Because I missed the meeting I didn’t know what this month’s reading theme was going to be, so I was anxious to get to the library to see what November’s theme was and check over what books they had put out to match the new theme.
    The morning before I went to the library, I discovered the new term “Cli-Fi” referring to futuristic novels involving climate change.  That sounded like something I might like to try.
    Upon arriving at the library I misread what the new theme was.  I thought it was “Exciting” books (the theme was actually “Books you are excited to read’).  With “Exciting” in mind I started to peruse through the books that had been set out and discovered American War.  Reading the sleeve, it looked like it was also an example of Cli-Fi, so I chose it. 
      The story is set between 2074 and 2095 in what used to be the southern United States.  In 2074 the “Second Civil War” had begun, fragmenting the country into four warring zones:  the United States (whose capital has been moved to Columbus, Ohio, due to sea level rise that inundated Washington, DC), secondly, the Free Southern State (composed of what used to be Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and a sliver of Florida that’s still above the ocean), the third area was the South Carolina Quarantine Zone (the former state has been walled off because of a deadly germ warfare attack, whose symptoms still linger), and fourthly,  the Mexican Protectorate (made up of areas in former southwestern US, that were now ruled by Mexico).
       All of these zones (except for the Quarantined area) are full of regular military and guerrilla gangs at attack with each other.  Huge swaths of the Free Southern State lay in ruin due to sea level rise, environmental degradation, and climate change.  A blockade by the US, limits relief goods and aid from the Red Crescent and the Bouazizi Union (an Empire in the Middle East) to the Free Southern State. 
      Growing up in this Garden of Evil, the Free Southern State, is the book’s main character Sarat, whose father is almost immediately killed when he has himself smuggled into the US seeking work, so he can provide for family.  The destitute family then ends up in a Southern refugee camp run by the Red Crescent.
       After years in the camp, the teenage Sarat is taken under wing of a refined gentlemen, an agent of the Bouazizi Empire who seeks potential suicide bombers to use against the US.  Although Sarat isn’t interested in blowing herself up, he “educates” her.  When the refugee camp is attacked by US forces, who massacre most refugees including her mother,  Sarat decides to dedicates herself to a life of killing US soldiers.
       She achieves some major successes in this goal, until she is rounded up, imprisoned, tortured, and seven years later, when the South surrenders, she is released.  By the time of her freedom, Sarat is a hobbling basket case, but it does not prevent her from continuing her revenge. 
      This is not an uplifting book and it wasn’t very enjoyable to read.  Because I thought the book club was books that were  “Exciting,” I kept expecting for that to happen, but instead all I got was drudgery.  There was murder, torture, and germ warfare, in the gloomy setting of a environmentally destroyed world.  
    I read in hopes that the main character would eventually loosen the grip of revenge and have some kind of redemption, and if not her maybe some other character, but there was very little if any human kindness to be had.
    It is always interesting to read other people’s view of what life might be like in the future, but I found many of this novel’s future implausible.  I couldn’t buy the emergence of a powerful Muslim Empire, because their whole history is fighting among themselves, and no where was China mentioned, and to me that seems like an obvious power broker of the future. 
        As far as excitement, this month’s book club’s theme, American War failed miserably.  I didn’t find it exciting at all, which was why I thought I was reading it.  I found the experience a depressing waste of my time. 
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Thursday 15 November 2018

Making Ourselves Go For A Walk

    We make ourselves go for a walk every afternoon.  If the sun is shining and there isn’t any wind it is easy enough to do, but if the weather is foul, it’s difficult to drum up enough motivation to head outside to do it.  Having a dog was also a helpful motivator, because we felt some parental responsibility to get her outside for some physical exercise.  Since we lost Skye it’s much harder to get ourselves moving, but we do.
    Yesterday afternoon when we looked out the window we saw that ugly mixture of rain and snow.  It was difficult to force ourselves outside, but we relinquished or sanity long enough to put on our rain/snow wear and head out.  Fortunately, by the time we got to Jervis Road the rain had disappeared and there was only the blowing snow to deal with.  Beaver Mountain which usually towers over the view had completely disappeared.
    Our trip down the road was not much fun, but when we turned around it was worse; the blowing snow hit us square in the face.  I am happy to report we survived the ordeal.
    One thing about doing the walk in bad weather--it always feels so good when we have finished and are back in the car.

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Wednesday 14 November 2018

What's Wrong With The Headlights?

    Last night after our music jam at the library, I was dropping Ingrid off at her place.  When we arrived, I took off my 1-powered reading glasses which wear when I drive, and put them in the cup holder on the gearshift console between the seats.  I then got out and opened the hatchback so Ingrid could get her guitar out.  
    When she was in the house, I backed the car so I could turn around.  I then remembered my reading glasses, so I reached over grabbed the glasses in the cup holder and put them on.  As I was driving up the hill, it suddenly struck me that my headlights were really dim.  Normally their light is crisp and bright.  What’s going on, I wondered.  Did I inadvertently change the setting?  I checked, but it was the same.
    It seemed like the plastic shield over the headlights were dirty and diminishing the light, but since it was below freezing and their weren’t any puddles, how could the shields suddenly get dirty.  It just didn’t make any sense.   I continued driving down the palely lit country road.
    In my frustration I happened to raise my head, and noticed that when I did, the headlights seemed to become brighter.  I raised and lowered my head, sure enough that made the headlights brighter.  Suddenly it struck me what was wrong.
    When I reached over in the dark to grab my reading glasses, my hand instead grabbed Joan’s sunglasses, which were also in the cupholder.   I hadn’t noticed the change when I put them on, except that suddenly by headlights were very dim.
    I took her glasses off, put mine on, and happy with the newly found power of the headlights, continued my drive home.

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Tuesday 13 November 2018


    Around our place we see a lot of Mule Deer, but in other parts of the valley the Whitetail Deer are more prominent.  When Joan and I were out for a walk last week we spotted these Whitetails grazing.  As we proceeded down the road, they spooked and disappeared into the bush. 
    What really surprised me about the encounter was how young the one was.  I don’t know how long ago it was born, but it might be a tough heading into our long hard winter at such an tender age.

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Monday 12 November 2018

Thinking Volcanoes

    Yesterday while we were doing our walk, I noticed this cloud over the peak beside the Raush Valley.  The way the cloud was towering and being blown looked like what you often see over an erupting volcano.  I was comforted by the fact that none of the mountains that border the Robson Valley are volcanic.  The only volcano close to us is about 70 miles west (as the crow flies) in Wells Gray Park. 
    British Columbia has fifteen usually dormant volcanoes, most of which are along the Pacific Coast.  The Lower Mainland of the Province is threatened however by more active volcanos that are located in Washington State.  Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Baker, and Mt. Rainier come to mind.

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Sunday 11 November 2018

Snoozing by the Stove

    I spotted Lucifer in deep sleep beside the wood stove yesterday.  Looks like she’s starting to assume her winter mode.  Her red blanket must have had a small chunk of wood or something on it so she was only half on it and half on the carpet.  Her position didn’t seem all that comfortable to me, but it didn’t seem to hamper her at all.

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Saturday 10 November 2018


    I just got done snowblowing the driveway for the first time this season.  I don’t really have enough energy left to do much of a blog, so I thought I would just send you a cartoon.  Since the time change, it really is hard to stay awake during the long, long, dark evenings.

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Friday 9 November 2018

The Fleeting Excitement of the First Snowfall

    I think it must be a remnant of childhood memories, but I am always excited about getting the first snow.   Visions of tearing down a hill on a sled, having snowball fights, and not having to go to school because of the snow, have painted a joyful and colorful picture that lies deep down in my sub-conscious, and that is always the first thing that registers upon seeing the first snow.  
    Unfortunately, the older I get, the more rapidly that initial excitement wears off, as the realism of snow, replaces those idyllic childhood memories.  
    This morning when I looked out the window and saw it, my first reaction was an excited joy, but all that was immediately extinguished upon my first unstable footsteps onto the white stuff--”Oh right, snow is slippery.”  The positive feeling I had about getting snow will further diminish, upon driving the car to town.  
    How quickly feelings can come on, then turn and vanish.

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Thursday 8 November 2018

Pond Frozen

    The seasons are so pronounced in Canada, that I spend a lot of time looking for signs of the transition from one season to the next, especially the coming of winter, and the coming of spring.  The other day we had our first snowfall; not much, but just enough to show that snow had fallen. 
     Yesterday we noticed that our pond had frozen.   We’ll just have to wait to see if this will be its state until March, or whether we will get a spell of warmer weather that will push back the “Big Freeze” until later.

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Wednesday 7 November 2018

Sunlight on Beaver Mountain

    Yesterday when Joan and I headed out to do our walk, a blanket of cloud covered the sky, except for one little corner--over Beaver Mountain.  The highlighted peak was an inspiring sight in the otherwise dully lit landscape.  Here are two photos.

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Tuesday 6 November 2018

Peanut Butter is Back

    Every winter, beside the year-long Sunflower seeds, I put out suet (animal fat) and peanut butter for the birds.  These winter foods are favorites of the various woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees, who need the high-fat content to help them stay warm throughout the winter. 
    I have been hesitating about putting out the peanut butter and suet, because I wanted to wait until the bears began to hibernate.  I hope the bears are snuggled up in their underground homes, because I put out the bird’s winter food today.  In the next couple of days the temperature is set to drop (-14C, 7F), so I figured the birds could use the extra fat.
    It only took the chickadees 15 minutes to discover the peanut butter log, after I put it up.  
    Today is also our first day of snow.

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Monday 5 November 2018

On The Wing

    The migration of birds is a true wonder; how they can fly hundreds or thousands of miles and know where they are going.  I’ve had hummingbirds and wood ducks at my place looking for food at the same place where I used to feed them the previous year, so I know they were the same birds.  Anyway the water fowl that had made a stop at Horseshoe Lake are on the move again.  
    These flocks were too far away to identify, some where Canada Geese, I could tell from their honking, I am not sure about those in the photo below, that appeared white against the mountains.  Maybe they were Snow Geese.

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Sunday 4 November 2018

Canada Geese

    There was a multitude of Canada Geese on Horseshoe Lake yesterday as Joan and I did our walk.  Our mild wet weather has kept these guys hanging around, taking a rest stop on their trip to the south where they will spend their winter.

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Saturday 3 November 2018

Clouds, Thick and Low

    Our gloomy weather continues.  There were a few small breaks in the clouds, that created some nice highlights on the terrain, but for the most part the weather was pretty oppressive.  

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Friday 2 November 2018

Rain Drop

    It rained all last night, and I woke up to a very gray, uninspiring morning.  I sat down to write this blog and looked through my recent photos to find something to write about.  I didn’t find anything, so I decided to walk around the pond, hoping for a photo-op.  The drop of water on a naked branch was all I was able to come up with.  
    Water, while so common and basic, can also show simple beauty.

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Thursday 1 November 2018

Spam Call

    Like everyone else with a phone, I am sick of getting spam calls.  We have satellite TV and when we get a telephone che number flashes up on the television screen.  It is a very useful feature.  
    The other afternoon when I was watching TV, we got a call, and I saw that it was from Ontario.  It didn’t give a name, just the number, and the province.  Since I don’t really know anyone in Ontario that would call me, I just shook my head and thought, “Spam”.  I let the phone ring, and the answering machine started saying something like, “This is a message from a Roger’s (telecom company) customer,” something I had never heard before.
    Sick of the whole event, I picked up the phone and immediately put it back down, thus ending the call.  I went back to paying attention to the television show.  A few minutes later, the phone rang again from Ontario, and I cursed, and again was going to hang up the phone to end it.  I picked the phone up and as I was putting it down, I heard my answering machine say, “Is this the David Marchant that draws the cartoon for the Rocky Mountain Goat Newspaper?”  
    CLICK, I put down phone, just as my brain kicked in what was being said.  Obvious, this had not been another spam call, the caller knew something about me and wanted to speak to me.  
    “Damn, I wonder what they wanted?”  I was suddenly filled with regret at hanging up on the person, but it was too late--or was it.  
    I remembered that our satellite TV also keeps track of all the phone calls we receive, so I went to that function, and there was the Ontario phone number of the person who called me.  I dialed the number and a man picked up.  I told him I had just gotten a call from his number and wondered what it was about.
    As it turned out, he was a stamp collector who put out a newsletter to other stamp collectors.  He saw my cartoon, about postage, and wanted my permission to use it in the newsletter.  I told him, “Sure, go ahead,” after which he thanked me and I hung up.
    Afterwards, I began to wonder, how in the world did someone from Ontario ever see that cartoon in the Rocky Mountain Goat Newspaper, a bi-weekly paper ( and online) which has a tiny subscription base here in the Robson Valley. 

    I am always amazed at how all of today’s technology spreads information so far afield.

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