Sunday 31 March 2019

Reflections on a Field

    The snow that was on this field has melted, but there is still frost in the ground, so the water from the melted snow has no where to go.  It has puddled on the field.   Yesterday I noticed how nicely these huge puddles reflected the mountains and sky.

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Saturday 30 March 2019

As For Me And My House by Sinclair Ross

    The theme for the McBride Library’s Book Club for March was “Canadian Classics before 1940”  When I looked at some of the possibilities laid out on the library’s bookcase, I came upon “As For Me And My House” by Sinclair Ross.  It was a novel I had never heard of so I chose it and read it.  Here is my review:

As For Me And My House by Sinclair Ross
             This novel, structured like a diary, is written in the first person by the wife of a minister.  The couple has just moved to Horizon, a bleak small prairie town in Saskatchewan during the Dust Bowl days of The Great Depression and like the Depression, the things she writes in her diary tells of of a life that is dreary and without much joy or hope. 
       Her  husband Phillip, was a once aspiring artist, who gave up that dream to become a minister.   Before she married, the wife, an accomplished musician, had dreamed of becoming a pianist, but now she struggles to fulfill her role as a minister’s wife with all it’s social restrictions in the small town. Both she and her minister husband no longer believe in religion and are forced to be hypocrites in the roles they play in the small bleak prairie town.
      The novel begins in the spring, as these two unhappy people move into Horizon, another in a string of previous such towns.  Phillip preaches in the church, for a subsistence-level pay cheque that keeps them in poverty.  The parsonage they live in is a small, leaky, house that they both hate. 
      Phillip, torn by the guilt at being a hypocrite, is extremely unhappy with his life, and increasingly isolates himself from his wife, as he sketches in his study, leaving her alone in the hated house.  She is often afraid to bother her prickly husband although she craves his company.
Twelve years earlier, their marriage had produced a son, but he was stillborn.  The couple remained childless in the intervening years, but it hadn’t dampened  Phillip from wanting a son.   When a twelve year old Catholic boy, from a frowned-upon family in town is abandoned, Phillip wants to take him in permanently.  His wife relents, hoping that it will change their failing relationship.
      It does cheer Phillip up, but his wife then often feels jealous, because all of Phillip’s attention and gifts go to the boy Steve, when she has been deprived of nice things and attention for years. Having Steve does positively change the couple and makes their life somewhat better, but this “adoption” of Steve also causes the couple to feel some of the silent wrath of the bigoted townsfolk, who hate Catholics.  
      Steve however quickly and easily fits in with his new family, and even though their income is very low, he is spoiled by Phillip, who relents and buys the boy a horse.  The boy Steve often prefers the company of the wife, which then makes Phillip jealous.  The couple is left floundering in their unhappiness when Steve is taken away and shipped to an orphanage by two priests, who were informed by someone in the town that a Catholic boy was being raised by a Protestant family.  
      His departure at last makes Phillip start to reconsider his life in small town ministries, something his wife has been encouraging, but then an incident occurs that threatens the marriage that is already hanging by a string.  You will have to read the book to see if things finally begin to lighten up for these two people whose lives have sunk so low in the during the Depression on the Canadian prairies.
Ross’s novel paints a dismal picture of small town life in the unrelenting wind and dust storms that devastated agricultural communities in Saskatchewan.  While reading the novel I noticed how often he referred to moths flying around the coal oil lanterns.  False-fronted buildings were also mentioned a lot, I assume they were symbolic of Phillip, who was trying to present himself as something more than he was.  The word “white” was also used a lot, mostly to describe people’s pale faces, tight lips, or clenched fists. 
Despite the bleakness of this novel’s setting, It did keep me interested in the lives of these two people.  There was very good character development which gave the reader real insight into these two misplaced individuals.

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Friday 29 March 2019

Ice at the Edge of the Pond

    Things are rapidly changing in the Robson Valley as Spring begins to push it’s presence.  While the pond is still frozen, around the west shore that gets the most sunshine, the ice is starting to melt during the day.  I have been walking around the pond daily, and compared to the long winter when most things looked static and the same, I now am starting to find subjects for my photos.  
    Here are a couple of shots I took yesterday of the ice along the edge of the pond.

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Thursday 28 March 2019

Clouds Building Over the Cariboo Mountains

    I am a real cloud watcher, and yesterday there were some wonderful billowy cumulus clouds that were building over the Cariboo Mountains.  I wonder how many thousands of feet they were if measured from bottom to top.  The clouds in the photo below were being blown westward as they were being built.

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Wednesday 27 March 2019

Long Awaited Green

    For months I have been eager for Winter to disappear, wanting to see some green that indicated that Spring had finally started to show itself.  As usual the first appearance of green plants has been in the strip along the side of the house that catches the most sunlight.  A little more than a week ago, snow was still covering this area, now it is gone and some green have suddenly appeared.  
    The photo above shows tiny leaves of my hollyhock plant.  Hollyhocks have really surprised me.  I had always associated them with hot weather, but they are really tough plants and don’t seem to mind the cold at all.  I think these leaves were there last fall before the snow covered them.  They seem to have been unfazed by our cold winter and are still vibrant ready for another season.
    Below is a sprouting Grape Hyacinth that has pushed itself out of the ground.  That is no surprise, they are always among the first flowers that come up.

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Tuesday 26 March 2019

First Migrants Arrive

    I was surprised yesterday to see that the first small flock of Canada Geese had arrived in the Valley.  Normally, I hear the honking of arriving flocks in the evenings, but don’t actually see them until a couple of days later.  I hadn’t heard any honking before seeing them this year.
    I always wonder what these early geese eat when they arrive.  I always assume that the late leavers in the Fall eat everything available before they leave, then winter hits and everything is buried beneath ice and snow all winter, so you wouldn’t think their would be much food available this early in the Spring when most everything is still frozen or snow covered.  It looks like these geese are swimming in water that is sitting on top of ice.
    I guess I shouldn’t worry about them, geese have been doing this for millions of years so they probably know more than I do.

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Monday 25 March 2019

Jerry Hoover: Dedicated Music Teacher

    In my regular Sunday phone call with my family, I was told that Jerry Hoover, my high school music teacher had died.  I feel like I owe him a huge amount of appreciation for all the work that he did for his students.
    He was not one of those teachers that I loved, I liked him okay.   He was not one of those teachers that inspired me so much that I wanted to be like him and become a choir teacher.  No, he was just one of those teachers that did his job effectively, and created numerous extra-curricular events that enriched the high school experiences for his students.
   After “graduating” from my neighborhood elementary school, I was ready to move into a much bigger high school.  It was a pretty intimidating prospect to be thrust into an unfamiliar environment where I didn’t know most of the students and teachers.  I assume I had a choice of elective subjects that I could take in high school.  I loved art, and now I don’t really remember why I didn’t take art classes, but it was probably recommended that I take chorus.  As it ended up, that choice really made a big difference in my high school experience, and I think my life.
    So in my freshman year I ended up in the Freshman Boy’s Chorus.  I think the class was a bit of a dumping ground for male students.  There were a lot of boys in there that couldn’t really sing very well,  but I had had years experience singing harmonies in our church choirs, both junior and senior.
    The Boy’s Chorus was a very easy class, we would just learn songs, harmony parts, and sing along as Mr. Hoover played the piano.  As we approached the first grading period, we suddenly learned about a terrifying ordeal that each of us had to go through.
    Mr. Hoover would call four boys up to the front of the class to stand by his piano; a first tenor, a second tenor, a baritone, and a bass.  He would play a song and the four would have to sing their harmony parts to the song.  It was terrifying.  
    I was a bass, and when my name was called along with three others, I was full of fear.  Mr. Hoover  began playing and the four of us began to sing along.  When we had finished, a really unexpected and remarkable thing happened.  Mr. Hoover praised me. 
    He told the class how well I had sung the bass harmony part.  He then had me sing it again by myself as he played through the song again. I didn’t possess a “solo” voice, but I had a solid voice that could sing and hold harmony parts.
    This event led to me, along with a small handful of other freshman boys, to be put into the Concert Choir the following year.  The Concert Choir was normally reserved for Juniors and Seniors.  Being in the Concert Choir hobnobbing with upper classmates, elevated my status, which was so important to teenagers.  Being in Concert Choir really gave me a boost of confidence that had been really lacking in my personality.
    Although I had always been a big fan of music that had led me to pursue it on my own, being in the Choir introduced me to a much wider range of music than I knew about.  We sang classical pieces including “The Messiah”, and we did show tunes, most of which I were unfamiliar with.  Being in the Choir also led to me being in our high school’s spring musicals.  I was in “Brigadoon”, “My Fair Lady,” and “Oklahoma”.  I was not only in the plays’ choruses, but also was a dancer, and had a few speaking lines.
    The Concert Choir also sometimes did “tours” that took to other towns and cities.  The most memorable of these was in Indianapolis.  It was memorable not because of our performance, but because as we sang at various high schools, some of the students from those schools started to tell us that President Kennedy had been assassinated.  For a while we believed that they were just trying to pull our legs, but finally we were forced to accept it, and our trip back home was quite subdued.
    Looking back at my life and remembering those wonderful high school experiences, I realize just how much that Mr. Hoover had done for me.  I certainly didn’t realize it as a teenager, but I owe him a lot, both musically and in the development of my personality.  
    Here’s a belated Thank You, Mr. Hoover.

Below is a photo of the 1965 Concert Choir and a staged shot of me playing the banjo as “Banjo Sam,”  a very minor role in our high school’s production of “Oklahoma”.


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Sunday 24 March 2019

Engine Fire

    Last week as we were leaving Jasper we noticed this guy at the intersection, who was having an unexpected bad day.  The engine on his camper van had started on fire.  I have no facts, but I assume he was vacationing along the Icefield Parkway, got to the intersection, and things suddenly took a bad turn.  
    I could relate to his distress, because a similar thing once happened to me.
    Back in 1970 or so, I was working as a conscientious objector at a Goodwill Store in Indianapolis.  At the time I drove a MG Midget.  It was the worse car I have ever had.  It was constantly breaking down.
    Anyway, one morning on my way to work, I had stopped at an intersection, and as I waited for the traffic light to change, I noticed that there was a small British Racing Green blister, growing on the hood (or Bonnet as the manual called it) of the car.  I sat there mesmerized, staring and wondering at the growing blister.  When it got to be the size of a big pancake, suddenly smoke started pouring out from both sides of the front of the car.
    “Yikes, my engine is on fire” finally registered in my brain.  
    I had never experienced anything like that before, and wasn’t sure what to do, but I flipped the hood (bonnet) open, and tried to put out the flames with a jacket.  Fortunately, another driver saw what was happening and came running over with a fire extinguisher he had in his vehicle, and doused the fire out.
    I don’t really remember what all happened after that, but my MG got towed, and had repaired.  I just always remember sitting there watching the green blister growing on the hood (bonnet) and thinking how strange it was.

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Saturday 23 March 2019

Jasper Townsite: Loosing It's Charm

    The Jasper townsite has always been a charming touristy mountain town.  However it, like Jasper National Park, has been devastated by the Pine Bark Beetle which has been killing all of the pine trees.     Those thousands of dead pine are creating a dangerous forest fire hazard and so they are being logged and removed.  Since the forest cover of the town is mostly pine, once they are removed, the spindly results are not very attractive.  The photo above shows the piles of felled trees stacked up ready to be driven away to sawmills.
    Not only are the trees being removed inside the town site, but also large forested areas around the town are being logged to prevent forest fires. ( I wonder whether these logged areas, which could grow back into dry weedy fields, will be that much safer.)  Anyway, it is happening and there’s not much one can do about it but accept it.
    While I am on the subject of devastation; Jasper used to generate its own power from a generator. Now a 50 km long strip has been logged through the park for a transmission line that will bring coal-generated electricity to the town.  This seems to me like a real giant step backwards to now start using electricity from coal burning.
    The whole time we were in Jasper National Park there was a smoky haze in the sky from all the burning of logging slash.  Below is a photo which shows the slash smoke emanating from the valley in which Jasper sits.
    It truly breaks my heart to see what is happening to Jasper.

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Friday 22 March 2019

Jasper National Park Being Devastated

    Jasper National Park, one of the jewels of the Canadian Rockies, is under attack by the rice-sized, but deadly, Pine Bark Beetle.  At first glance the photo above may just look like a mountain landscape shot, but if you look closer at the trees up close to the peaks, you will see a reddish color.  That color indicates dead pine trees that have been killed by the Pine Bark Beetle.  
    Twenty years ago, thousands and thousands of acres of pine were killed by the pine beetle in British Columbia, over the last 10 years the beetle has moved into Alberta, and the results there have been the same.  Most of Jasper National Park is covered with Lodgepole Pine, and so vast areas of forest are now being killed.  There is really nothing that can stop the beetle.
    This infestation is yet another symptom of Global Warming.  In the past the really cold weather that we used to get during the winter, would kill off a lot of the beetles and keep them in check, but winter after winter, the temperatures have been much milder than in the past, and that has allowed the beetle to multiply and thrive.
    I have read some articles that hope that this past winter, which was unusually cold compared to the winters of the recent past, might have killed some of the beetles which spend their winter underneath the bark of the trees.  I guess we will wait and see, but sadly, it is way too late for the hundreds of thousands of acres of pristine forest that have already been killed.

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Thursday 21 March 2019

Mission Aborted

    We have been wanting to get another dog for a while now.  We frequent the online dog rescue sites hoping to find the right kind of dog for us.  Unfortunately, most of what you see there are pit bulls.  We have no interest in a pit bull, so we search on.  We thought we had found a potential dog in Edmonton.    It was a Silverdoodle, something I had never heard of, but it was cute, young, and reminded us a bit of our previous dogs.
    We inquired about the dog, filled out a questionnaire about ourselves, and talked on the phone to the lady that was working with the dog.  Everything seemed to be going okay, and yesterday we planned to make the drive to Edmonton to see the dog.  The woman caregiver said she would text us the address, but yesterday morning, we still hadn’t received it.  No matter, we packed up the car for the five hour  drive, and headed east to Edmonton.
    It was a perfect day for the drive, it was sunny, the highways were clear, and it was unusually warm for this time of year (16C, 60F).  As usual, I couldn’t pass Mt. Robson without taking a photo (above).
    When we got to Hinton, we called the dog’s caregiver to get the address and we got an unexpected surprise.  She said that she hadn’t texted us the address the night before because they had left the dog by itself in a room while the caregiver had to do other things, and when she returned, she found that the dog had totally trashed the room and “ate half of the door”.   Clearly the dog needed more work and wasn’t ready for prime time.
    So there we were halfway to Edmonton, and suddenly had no reason to continue the trip, so we sadly turned around and headed back home to McBride empty handed.  I guess we will continue our search for a rescue dog online.

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Sunday 17 March 2019

My Website is Back Online

     It has been a very frustrating and dismaying time for me over the last month.  Because of my website software, I could no longer update or post on my website.  In trying to solve the problem I dug myself deeper and deeper into more problems, until those people going to my website only got to see a "404 Error" message.  The number of regular viewers which had been increasing, plummeted because there was (and still is) no way to communicate with them.
     The web hosting outfit was able to finally re-establish my website again with all of the things that were previously on it, but it will remain static because I can no longer update it.  In order to keep blogging and showing my paintings, I bought another domain name and will start updating it with all of my future endeavors.
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Saturday 16 March 2019

Another Cracked Windshield

    One of the souvenirs BC drivers often receive while traversing the winter highways in the interior of the provincd is a cracked windshield.  That is what happened to me yesterday when I had to drive up to Prince George for an appointment.  There had been a snowfall the night before and the Ministry of Highways had done some plowing and sanding.  Actually if they had actually used sand I wouldn’t be writing the blog about cracked windshields.
    Up here when we refer to “sanding” what actually takes place is “graveling”.  There are small rocks in the “sand” sometimes the size of the tip of your thumb.  Whenever a transport truck comes toward you you find yourself cringing and praying that no rocks fly up from its tires and strike you windshield.  
    The “jewel” in the photo photo above shows where a rock struck my windshield yesterday, and you can see the cracks that emanated began from the hit that began to grow almost immediately after the impact.  
   Three months after buying our car new, we had just pulled out of our road onto the highway, at the beginning of a four day trip to Indiana when a rock shot up from a truck tire and hit our windshield.  That resulted in several cracks that spread all across the glass.
    A month or so ago, on another trip up Highway 16 to Prince George, we experienced another rock hit, but fortunately it was just a “ding” and we had it sealed at a glass store so it wouldn’t grow.  Unfortunately yesterday, by the time I got to PG it was too late to seal this hit, the cracks had already starting to spread.
     Replacing a windshield can be an expensive proposition.  My insurance will pay for 3 seals a year.  And we are fortunate that we opted for insurance that will replace a cracked windshield, so I will not be out of any new money, but it means hanging around a glass replacement shop for the installation sometimes when we are up in Prince George.  I’m not about to do that until the winter road season is well over.

Thursday 14 March 2019

Snow Measurement

    Yesterday I was complaining that I could not find any visible signs of Spring up here in the Robson Valley.  To further re-enforce my argument I plodded my way down to the pasture where I normally measure how much snow is on the ground to document the depth of the snow.  As you can see from the ruler (left side) we still have 23 inches (58 cm) of the white stuff that needs to melt before we see the ground.  
    There is more than that in places where it piles up because of drifting or where the snow is blown from my snowblower.  Snow still thickly covers the ground.

Wednesday 13 March 2019


    It’s a pretty sad state of affairs that with Spring just a week away, the only sign of Spring that I can see are some icicles dripping from the foot (30cm) of snow still sitting on our roof.  Normally this time of year we can at least see some bare patches of ground.  Winter took a long time getting to us this year, and I guess it’s determined to get its money’s worth now that it is here.

Tuesday 12 March 2019

Oh Spring, Where Art Thou?

    We got about 7 inches (17 cm) of new snow overnight on top of the 18 inches (43 cm) of old snow that was on the ground.  My normal routine is to fill the bird feeders first, before I clear the driveway with the snowblower, but I decided to get the drive done first today.
    The deer that always come to clear out the bird feeders as soon as they are full, came when I was snowblowing and hung around waiting and wondering why the food wasn’t out there yet.  I was surprised that they didn’t seem real intimidated by all the noise and blowing snow from the snowblower.  They backed off a bit from the machine, but didn’t run away.
    We’ve only had a handful of days whose temperature got above freezing.  There really have been no signs of spring to be seen and it officially starts in a week.

Monday 11 March 2019

Ballet for Breakfast

    I figured I had hung my bird feeder high enough to prevent the deer from stealing the peanut butter, but as you can see from the photo, I was wrong.  There is about a foot ( 30cm) of hard packed snow on the ground under the feeder and that gives the deer the extra height it needs to lick out the peanut butter.  
    The deer are hungry and every morning when I go outside to fill the bird feeders, the deer are out there patiently waiting for me refill the feeders with sunflower seeds and peanut butter.  They also monitor our compost pile and clean it out quickly after I have dumped out our vegetable garbage.

Sunday 10 March 2019

The Times They Are A'Changin'

    Today is the first day of Daylight Saving Time in most of North America.  We had to move our clocks forward an hour so it meant getting up an hour earlier.  These time changes always cause a lot of disruption and statistics show there are more automobile accidents and suicides in the week following the time change.
    I make and sell a calendar every year, and every year I feel bad around the start of Daylight Savings Time because one year I got the starting date wrong and an acquaintance who had checked the calendar ended up taking his kids to school an hour early.  Since then I am very conscientious about checking the date of Daylight Savings Time before I put it on my calendar.

    It sounds as if California, Oregon, Washington, and BC are all considering just staying on Daylight Savings Time all year round so this twice-yearly disruption no longer occurs.  I guess it will be a couple of years before this can happen because the US Congress has to give it’s permission before the states are allowed to make the year round change.

Saturday 9 March 2019

Still the Same Guy

    I came across a “Self-Interpreting Profile Test” that I think I took way back in 1966 when I was 19 years old.  The test was designed to show what my vocational interests were.  I found it fascinating how little my preferences have changed in the 50 years since I took it. 
    Way back then I showed a high preference for the Arts, and very little in business-oriented subjects.   My results indicated very high preferences in “Outdoors”, “Artistic”, “Literary”, and “Musical”.  My “Social Service” was also above average.  
    I had scores a little below average in “Mechanical”, “Scientific”, and “Persuasive” and extremely low scores in “Computational” and “Clerical”.  I would say that as an adult most of these ratings are still valid, except for “Scientific”.  I do have a very strong interest in science, much stronger than what was indicated on the old test.
    Looking back at my employment over the years shows that most of it was spent in an "Outdoor" related field, working for the BC Forest Service.  I also spent four years teaching which would probably be classified as "Social Service".  Throughout my life I have drawn cartoons, done photography, and now painting, which would all be "Artistic" and my love of music and playing in our weekly jam session shows the "Musical" classification.  "Literary" is satisfied with my constant love of reading.
   While my once youthful body has shown quite a bit of change in the last 50 years, my brain still seems to still be attracted to pretty much the same things.

Friday 8 March 2019

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

      Just a note from yesterday:  I did win my appeal and the assessment on my mountain-slope property will stay the same as last year instead of the 60% increase.  

Now the book Unbroken:   

      This book was a biography of Louis Zamperini, who lived an extraordinary life, first as an untamable youth stealing and causing innumerable problems in his neighborhood, then transforming into a gifted track star who, despite his young age, represented the US in the 1936 Berlin Olympics,.  
       World War II, derailed his plans to run in the 1940 Olympics, and he ended up as the bombardier in a B-24 bomber in the Pacific.  His luck held up through many near tragic missions, including one where his plane limped home with 600 bullet holes in it.  
       When his luck did finally run out, he and two other crew mates found themselves floating across the Pacific, without a supply of food or water, pursued by sharks in a leaky inflatable raft.  He and one of crew mates managed to survive.  Near death, they were finally rescued on their forty-first day adrift. 
      Unfortunately his “rescuers” were the Japanese, and he spent the rest of the war, brutalized and starving as a POW in several subhuman Japanese camps.  He became the daily target of an infamously cruel camp commandant, nicknamed “The Bird” who made his life a living hell. 
       At the end of the war he returned to the US, and became a celebrity as the Olympic miler who had been reported dead, then miraculously returned home alive.  PTSD, caused by his POW experiences, soon turned his life from being a celebrity into being an unstable drunk. 
        Marriage and Billy Graham rescued him from a life in the gutter, and from the sounds of it, he lived an admirable life thereafter.
         “Unbroken” was a very interesting and well researched read.  Zamperini did live an extraordinary life.  It sort of reminded me of Forrest Gump, in that, like the Gump character, his life was entwined with several famous historical events. I did feel at times that some of the incidents in the book were exaggerated, and hard to swallow.
         I read this book for our McBride Library Book Club, whose theme for February was “Books that 2018 films were based on.  I couldn’t understand why this book was on the list for movies that came out in 2018, since I was sure I had seen the film on TV a few years ago.  After some research I discovered that there was a film “Unbroken,  The unbelievable True Story” based on this book that was released in 2014. It got fair reviews.  
      Then a religious group made another movie based on the book that was the 2018 film.  That movie, “Unbroken, Path to Redemption” concentrated on the religious aspects of the novel.  It didn’t get very good reviews by film critics, but the religious crowd liked it. 

Thursday 7 March 2019

I Appeal

    At the beginning of every year the BC Provincial Government sends out a notice to all property owners telling them how much the government thinks their property is assessed at, for the sake of the property taxes.  This assessment is based on similar nearby land that has recently sold.  The property owner then has an opportunity to check those sold properties, compare them to his own and appeal the assessment if he doesn’t think the assessment was fair.
    When I got my assessment for the 14 acres (5.6 ha.) that we own across the road from our house, I was shocked to see that the assessment had risen by 60% from what it was last year.  I rushed to check out the properties that mine was compared with, and shook my head in disbelief at what I saw.  All of those 5 comparison properties were cleared, relative flat or very gently sloping, (photo of one is above). All five could be easily built on, whereas my property is a steep mountain slope (photo below).  I sent in my appeal and today I will have the conference call to defend my appeal.
    Not only is my property steep, immediately above it there is a rock slide (bottom photo), something I think is a real potential hazard to anyone who might buy the property and want to build on it.  We bought the property to protect wildlife habitat, and in hopes that the trees might protect our house from the rock slide.
    It seems to me that my property on the mountain slope should not be compared to the five level properties that my assessment was based on.  I hope the assessment board will see it the same way. 

Wednesday 6 March 2019

Lacking Focus

    I saw these tracks in the snow the other day.  I assume they were made by a squirrel, but whatever critter it was that made them, it lacked focus.  It clearly didn’t have a plan about where it was going.

Dirty Car

    Even though it’s been unusually cold ( -22C, -7F this morning) and below freezing (except for one afternoon) for weeks, our car is filthy.  This seems to be its default condition during the winter.  In the back of my mind I always think of winter as being a “clean” season with all the pristine white snow covering the ground and dirt, but I guess I always forget about all the sand, gravel, and salt that the highways dept. puts on the roads. 
    Every time we get close to our car to open a door, all that dirt on the car rubs off onto our clothing.  Disgusted and tired of the dirt, last week when we were up in Prince George, I took advantage of the fact that they have car washes, (we have none in McBride) and washed our car.  I was amazed at how shiny and blue it was when I had finished.  
    Then we drove back home to McBride, and when we arrived home and got out of the car, it was just as dirty as it was that morning when we drove up to PG.  
    When I look around everybody else’s car seem clean.  Maybe their cars just don’t show the dirt or maybe they know some secret that I don’t.

Tuesday 5 March 2019

"The Smell of Money"

    Yesterday we made another one of our trips to Prince George.  It was a very cold morning (-22C, -7F).  There was not a cloud in the clear blue sky.  However, as we approached PG we saw the white billowing plumes from the pulp mill.  Prince George lies in a bowl, and often if there is a temperature inversion, all of that smelly air from the pulp mill blankets that bowl, leaving Prince George gray with a sickly sweet smell.
    It was evening in September of 1973 that we first visited Prince George.  We needed to find a motel room for the night.  We couldn’t figure out what the smell was.  We soon learned it was the pulp mill.
   Luckily yesterday, we discovered that the pollution we saw was not collecting in the Prince George bowl, but was dispersing elsewhere.  I assume most of the time that is the case.  I always remember one day while working for the Forest Service, I had to drive up to PG for some reason.  All the way from McBride to Prince the skies were blue, sunny, and clear.  When I drove down the hill into Prince George, the sky was gray and smelly.  I was so glad I lived in McBride and not Prince George.
    Whenever I would remark about the smell of the pulp mill, I often received the reply, “It’s the smell of money.”  I guess you can look at it that way, but I would rather have clean air.

Saturday 2 March 2019

Dill Pickle Soup

    Diane, a neighbor stopped by the other day to drop off a book I had won at the healthy living workshop, and while she was here she mentioned that she was eager to get home because they were going to have some Dill Pickle Soup for lunch.
      “Dill Pickle Soup?” I queried, and then she on to explain and praise the soup.
    I am very traditional in my pickle eating.  I like them on sandwiches and as an appetizer, but I had never heard of pickles being used as a basis of soup.  The thought of it did make me very curious, and the curiosity probably would have faded away if Diane hadn’t forwarded us the recipe when she got home.
    Yesterday, recipe in hand, I decided I was going to make some just to see what it would taste like.  I fix and eat a lot of soup anyway, so I decided to give it a try.
    In the soup was chicken broth, bacon, carrots, potatoes, sour cream, butter, and of course dill pickles and dill pickle juice.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly because I used my Instant Pot, and having just I returned from the healthy living workshop, I decided to cut the amount of sour cream in half.  I also didn’t have or know what Old Bay seasoning was.  
    Anyway, I fixed my version of it, and the result was quite tasty.  The little chunks of dill pickles were a nice flavor burst in the mouth.  I’ll probably not fix it again, only because it seemed like all the preparation took a long time and seemed a bit to involved for my usual “fix-it-fast” meal preparation style.  We do have some left over and I am looking forward to eating it again for lunch.
    If you want to try it, here is the recipe that I based of my version of Dill Pickle Soup on: