Wednesday 31 July 2019

Canoeing Down the Fraser

    The other day as I was driving down the road, I caught sight of the Sustainable Living Leadership group paddling on their long journey down the Fraser River in their enormous canoe.  They are part of a program called the “SLLP” or Sustainable Living Leadership Program, sponsored by the RIvershed Society of BC.  Along the way, they learn about local ecosystems and  environmental concerns, as they  meet with local residents, and make their nightly camps in rain forests, deserts, and grasslands along  their 800 km route down the Fraser to Vancouver.
    The trip is done every year starting at Tete Jaune, BC, then usually making stops at Dunster, and McBride in our area.  They of course can’t paddle the whole Fraser because of the extreme rapids of Hell’s Gate, but paddle most of the tamer parts of the river.
    While I have met the group at gatherings (this year I helped out with the dinner for them at Dunster), I have never actually seen them in their canoe actually traveling.  I wish them tolerable weather and interesting experiences.

You can view my paintings at:

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Veggie Dog

    Yesterday I picked both peas and raspberries.  In the morning when I was picking peas, our dog Lexi was in the garden with me.  I was putting the peas in a bucket without a handle, and at one point I was tired of holding the bucket and put it down on the ground.  
    The next time I looked down at the bucket, Lexi had her head in it and was stealing a pea pod.  The little thief ate the whole thing.  
    In the afternoon when I was picking raspberries, I saw Lexi eating raspberries off of the low branches. 
    Lexi is the most food-oriented dog I have ever seen, and it’s not like we don’t feed her.  Every time one of us goes into the kitchen, she is suddenly there, looking up at us thinking she might get more food.  She is constantly “hoovering” the floors searching for some molecule of food that might have dropped. 

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Monday 29 July 2019

Kill It

    Yesterday, driving down the road close to our driveway, I saw a few prickly, long-stemmed plants sporting small darkish purple flowers.  It was the Marsh Plume Thistle.  As soon as I got the car parked in our carport, I walked back up to the road and over to were I had seen the plants and pulled them out.  There were about 5 of them all together, and I looked around to make sure I had them all.  
    I also found about ten of the plants “rosettes” growing low to the ground and stomped and mashed them into the dirt.  Plume Thistles are biennial, the first year they just have the low growing rosette (photo below) then the second year the send up the tall stem with the purple flower.
    Marsh Plume Thistle is yet another invasive plant that is taking over the Robson Valley.  It started showing up about 25 years ago, and spread rapidly.  It grows in the shade, in the sun, in dry areas, and in wet areas.  It is pretty much unstoppable because it has no natural predators in BC, so its growth is unrestricted.  It is native to Europe and I wish it would have stayed there.
    When I was still working at Forestry, they tried to introduce a caterpillar that did feed on the plant, hoping it would start to limit its spread, but it didn’t really work.   
    Fortunately, so far it has not spread to our little section of the neighborhood and that was why I was so eager to kill the few plants I saw.

You can view my photo-realistic paintings:

Sunday 28 July 2019

Breaking All of the Rules

    I wanted to show our visitors what it was like up on McBride Peak, the mountain behind our house.  The old road up to sub-alpine is very steep and bumpy and I didn’t want to jerk and shake my car all the way up there, so I told my guests that they could sit in the back of my pickup truck all the way up, which madd the young people excited.
    After I said it, I started to have second thoughts about driving all the way up, but knew I couldn’t really back out of letting them ride in the back, so on the day of the trip I told them I had changed the venue a bit and we’d only be going up to the halfway point, where they could look way down at McBride and the Robson Valley,  which is a spectacular view.  That would still satisfy their desire to be bumped and shaken up in the back of the truck, which is, of course, against the law.
    My guests helped me take the canopy off of the back of the pickup and I lined the back with cushions from an old couch and pillows to make the space more comfortable.  Since we were only going to the halfway point and not doing any hiking, I didn’t take a hat, water, coat, or food; things one should take every time they go up in the alpine.  
    We started up the steep rocky road, and I enjoyed hearing the squeals and giggles as the teens were bounced off their seats and shifted around by the bumps on the road.  They were having such a good time that I caved in and decided to drive all the way to the sub-alpine after we did the sightseeing at the halfway point.
    Above the halfway the road gets steeper and the rocks in the road get bigger.  At one point the road clings between a rock face and a sheer drop-off--exciting stuff !
    We got up to the parking area without incident, and then proceeded to hike up the steep slope to the old forestry lookout.  It was cooler, of course, up in the alpine and there was a wind that made it worse.  Luckily all of my guest did have jackets and water.  I, the local who is usually well prepared, was without either and I felt foolish.  Being without in the mountains is how hypothermia happens.
    I did keep watch over everyone to make sure no one was getting over exerted or cold.  I felt a bit chilled, but not overly.
    We did make it to the alpine meadows that I wanted to show them.  They got to walk through some of the snow patches.  I was disappointed to discover that the flowers must have already bloomed, but there was a impressive panorama of the surrounding mountains.
    Despite breaking all the rules, we all survived, but I was sure glad we didn’t get caught in a cold rain up there.


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Saturday 27 July 2019

Raining? Let's Do the Rainforest.

    If it’s raining (which it was) and you have guests to entertain (which we did) there is only one solution:  Take them out and show them a rainforest.   Fortunately we do have a rainforest in the Robson Valley, an inland temperate rainforest;  The Ancient Forest Provincial Park.  That’s what we did on Wednesday.
    It is an hour’s drive east of McBride and by the time we got there the rain had stopped and the clouds were lifting.  We walked along the boardwalk through the dark canopy of the giant cedars, surrounded in greens of ferns and Devil’s Club, and the peaceful silence of the forest. 
    We ate our lunch beside the rapid waters of Slim Creek at the Rest Area then drove back stopping at the unmarked West Twin Old Growth Area, for more giant cedars, this time growing in a carpet of mosses.  These are the type of forests I love to be in and I think my guest were taken by them also.

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Friday 26 July 2019

Family Tour

    The reason I have been delinquent in posting my blog of late is because my cousin and her family drove all the way from Tennessee to give us a visit.  That meant that I had to assume the role of tour guide and show them some of the sights of the Robson Valley.
    One of the things I always like to show off is our waterline.  The fact that we get all of our water directly from a nearby waterfall is usually of interest to people, so I got our visitors to make the short hike with me down the road, then start climbing up the slope to get to the spot where our culvert sits on the falls and collects our water.
    When we got back home for our evening meal our visitors were eager to sample the water they had just seen cascading over the long rocky waterfalls.

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Tuesday 23 July 2019

Sudden Weather Changes

    There are some signs along Hwy. 16 where it goes through Mount Robson Park that warns motorist that there can be sudden weather changes in the mountains.  I thought about the message on that sign this morning.   On my first venture outside with Lexi, the air was still, warm, and heavy.  There was a fine misty sort of rain shower going on, and I did hear some distant thunder. 
    Then about 45 minutes ago, a horrifically close thunderstorm shook the house, as a torrential rain pulverized everything outside.  About five minutes after the last clap of thunder, the Sun came out blazing and everything was good.
    I took this photo from our kitchen window when the first sunshine began to illuminate the front yard.

You can view my paintings at:

Monday 22 July 2019

Footstool/Dog Bed

    When Skye, our previous dog had trouble getting onto the bed, I took a footstool that we weren’t using and put it at the end of the bed so that Skye could use it as a step to make it easier.  The solution worked well, but surprisingly, soon Skye was using the footstool for a bed.  It seemed a strange thing to do because the footstool isn’t level it is sloped.   It made us chuckle every time we saw Skye curled up and snoozing on the footstool.
    After Skye died, we never got around to moving the footstool out of the bedroom, so it was there when Lexi, our new dog entered our lives.  Surprisingly, as you can see in the photo, Lexi too likes to curl up and sleep on the footstool.  

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Saturday 20 July 2019

They Made It To The Moon!

    Like the day JFK was assassinated, I remember where I was when Man first stepped onto the surface of the moon.  I was in Hawaii taking Peace Corp training, and it was a weekend, so my girlfriend and I had hitch-hiked to the dry side of the Big Island to spent the night sleeping in the sand beside a big rock at Hapuna Beach State Park.
    When we got up in the morning, the Sun was shining, and the surf was rolling in on the sand, and we decided to hitch over to the fancy Mona Kea Hotel at the edge of the park to have breakfast.  It seems like it was there where we listened to the moon landing on the radio.  
    The landing on the moon was one of the really monumental events that happened during my lifetime, and decades later, I was in one of those roadside antique/junk shops and came upon the glass you see in the photo.  It hit me upon seeing the glass just how much the hoopla surrounding the moon landing had faded from the public consciousness.  I couldn’t help but by it and the companion Apollo 12 glass.
    They certainly aren’t high art or anything like that, but the event it acknowledges is as monumental as the discovery of North America.  Even though the glasses have spent the existing time since their purchase in my shop, I am happy to have them as a reminder of that amazing accomplishment.

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Friday 19 July 2019


    Here is a photo of one of the Yellow Waterlilies (Nuphar lutea ssp. polysepala) that blooms every year in my pond.  It is a native species.  They grow from an elongated tuber buried in the mud at bottom of the pond.  I know this because that is how I got the plant established.  I saw some of the tubers floating in Horseshoe Lake one spring, brought them home and sank them in the mud.  They started growing the following spring.

Amongst my paintings there is one of a waterlily:

Thursday 18 July 2019

In The Weeds

    “In the weeds” seems to be a trendy phrase I hear and read more and more recently, however yesterday iI was able to use it literally.  In the photo above, you might wonder why my wife is standing looking at the weeds.  Upon closer observation you might see that the dog leash is running into the weeds.
    Lexi, our small dog was walking with us and suddenly veered off to the left, disappearing into the tall weeds growing along the side of the road.  I guess whatever smell caught her nose was more important than being able to see where she was going, because she plowed her way into the thick undergrowth and was completely engulfed in the weeds.  I don’t know what she smelled, but fortunately after the scent lost it’s charm, she did come back out.

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Wednesday 17 July 2019

Foliage Garden

    Anyone who is familiar with my paintings or my photos, can probably figure out that I really like the foliage of plants and the color green.  That being said, I guess it’s no big surprise how much I like the linear garden that runs between the sidewalk and our house.  It is wild, lush, and jungle-like, just the way I like it.  I think it had probably reached its prime for the year.
    Yesterday when I drove down the driveway the light was highlighting the ferns and I couldn’t help but take a few photos.

You can see my many foliage paintings at:

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Don't Back Up; There's A Giant Insect

    Car back-up video cameras are sure helpful, but the other day as I started to back the car, I glanced at the back-up screen and quickly hit the breaks.  Something big was in my way and it took a second for me to realize I didn’t have to worry, it was just an insect walking around on the video camera.  

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Monday 15 July 2019

Poppies In Our Garden

    Forty years ago when we bought our house and property and planted our first garden, red poppies unexpectedly also came up.  We loved the splash of brilliant red they gave and so every year after the veggies I planted show themselves and I begin weeding the garden, I always make sure that I don’t pull up any of the young poppy sprouts.  As a result, even after all those decades we still have poppies in our garden.  
    If you go to and click on “Paintings” on top of this page you can see an older painting of our garden that shows the poppies.                         

Sunday 14 July 2019

The Tadpoles of LaSalle Lake

    The other day on our trip home from Prince George we stopped in at LaSalle Lake to take a look around, since we hadn’t been there for a couple of years.  It is a beautiful lake nestled along the Cariboo Mountains.  It is a peaceful place, usually without many people around.
    LaSalle Lake was a Forest Service Recreation Site when I worked for the Forest Service, and so I often had an opportunity to go there.  Once when I was there I was gobsmacked by the immense  school of tadpoles that were swimming around in the water.  I had never seen so many, big, black, healthy looking tadpoles before.  There were thousands of them.
    On last Friday’s stop-in, I was gratified to see that there was again thousands of the wiggly critters swimming around.   They were in a huge doughnut-shaped school, just slowly revolving in the shallow water of the lake.  I always fear animals are disappearing, so it was good to see they were still around.
    Below is a photo of LaSalle Lake for those who aren’t familiar with it.


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Saturday 13 July 2019

Squirrel No. 11, & 12

    If you don’t believe this I will understand, it’s hard for me to believe it.  I have now live-trapped, transported (kilometers up and down the road), and released 12 squirrels that were in my shop.  I thought maybe a couple lived there, but it looks like all of the squirrels in the neighborhood have been using it. 
    I know there is a possibility that I am catching and re-catching the same squirrels, but it seems like surely I am driving them far enough away to release them, that if they were returning, it would take them a lot longer than it is when I catch squirrels in the trap. 
    We drove up to Prince George yesterday so I didn’t set the trap.  Hopefully there are no more in the shop.  Today Todd, the drywall man is coming to put drywall on the ceiling of the shop.  That should, at least, prevent squirrels from getting into the insulation.
    I sure hope this is the end of the squirrel problem for a while.

My paintings can be seen at:

Thursday 11 July 2019

Jealous Lucifer

    Our cat Lucifer always wants to be the most important “person” in our house.  We knew this might be a problem when we introduced Lexi, our new dog into our home.  To compensate we made sure Lucifer still got all the loving she was used to, and a lot of extra head-rubs to boot.  Things are working out better than we thought, but Lucifer still continues to push her status.
    Yesterday I was on the couch and Lexi was lying beside me.  This didn’t really sit right with “Lucy” so she jumped up on the couch, walked over to where Lexi was sleeping, jumped over Lexi, and positioned herself on my lap.  She was again in a dominant position and was happy and content.

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Wednesday 10 July 2019

Bog Arum

    Bog Arum is an aquatic plant that grows in the water along the edges of my pond.  I have taken numerous photos of the flowers and red berries of plant over the years, but I don’t remember ever taking a photo of the berries while they were immature and green.
    Yesterday when I was walking Lexi around the pond, I noticed this clump of green berries almost hidden by all the foliage of the Bog Arum.  The “leaf” sticking up behind the berries is really the petal of the flower, which was earlier white before the berries formed.  Bog Arum always seems like something you would see in a tropical jungle.
    I was attracted to the image by the structure of the plant and all the shades of green that surrounded it.

Visit to see my photo-realistic paintings of other local plants.

Tuesday 9 July 2019

Adjusting to our New Dog

    Every dog is different.  With Mac our first dog, we could fill up his bowl and he would only eat when he was hungry.  He never got into our cat’s bowl.  Skye, our last dog, was more food oriented and was always looking for more food.  She would empty the cat’s food at every opportunity.  To prevent this I created barricade of my guitar amp and the cat’s carrying case, which kept Skye out of the cat’s food.
    That was the way things were when we brought our new dog, Lexi into the house.  Lexi, we discovered is extremely food oriented and spent the first hour in our house smelling out every molecule of food that might have been on the floor.  She soon discovered the barricade and got through it and ate all of the cat’s food.  We didn’t where to start feeding the cat, it had to be somewhere high so Lexi couldn’t get to it. 
    As you can see in the photo above, the cat feeding station is now located on my desk.  We couldn’t think of any other high place to put it.  Fortunately, our cat is quite adaptable and it doesn’t take her long to figure out where her food is.
    We are going to have to be very vigilant about food and Lexi, because she has a powerful sense of smell, and a powerful appetite to go with it. 

You can see my photo-realistic paintings at:

Monday 8 July 2019

Lexi, Our New Dog

    For months and months we have been scanning the internet dog rescue sites trying to find a dog to adopt.   It was very frustrating because we live in an isolated small village and the sites were from cities and they wouldn’t “reserve” or “hold” dogs for people over the phone, you had to be there to visit the dog.  We would watch the sites and see dogs we would like, but they would always be adopted by the time we were able to get to the city.
    A couple of weeks ago we saw that there was a toy poodle available at the Prince George SPCA and it was on their site all week long.  I had a dental appointment on that Friday so we thought, maybe this would be our chance.  Late on the day before our trip, the dog disappeared from the site.  We were unhappy and very discouraged.  We went up to Prince George for my appointment, and afterwards when we were at Costco, I decided to check their site again.  
    Amazingly, there was another poodle listed. 
    Wow, I thought this one might work out for us.  We ate lunch then zoomed over to the SPCA.  When we got there a couple there and who already had the dog.
    Frustrated again, and about to give up on ever getting a rescue dog, we considered just buying a dog from a breeder.    I was still in the habit of checking the various rescue sites, and I looked at the one for WHARF (Whitecourt Homeless Animal Rescue Foundation) in Edmonton.  
    They had had Lexi, an older cute Cocker Spaniel/cross on their site for a while, and I figured it would be adopted right away, so didn’t really bother inquiring but surprisingly, Lexi’s photo was still there on the site.  I made a phone call assuming they had just forgot to take her off of their site and if not, to see if Lexi was still available and she was.  I filled out the forms about our background and sent it to them.   They replied that they thought we looked like we might be a good home for Lexi, so we made immediate plans to make the six hour drive to Edmonton the next day.
    Its been a while since I had done such a long drive, and it has been a decade or more since we  had been in Edmonton, and had to face a lot of changes to the city, and the speed and congestion of urban driving.  We had to rely heavily on our GPS to find the house of Laura, who was Lexi’s foster home.  We met Lexi, and Laura, who answered all of our questions.  
    We decided to adopt Lexi.
    I felt sorry for Laura, who had been caring for Lexi for months.  I know how hard it must have been to give the dog up, but she had other dogs, and soon another rescue to soon rehabilitate.  The next day, we signed all of the papers, got Lexi, put her in the back seat and made the long drive home in a terrible rain storm.
    Once back at our house we faced the problem of introducing the new family member to Lucifer, our sometime aggressive cat.  We kept the two of them apart but within sight of each other, and slowly they solved their curiosity with out any blood or fur flying.
    Lexi really likes people and loves to be petted.  She is thought to be seven years old, but I was surprised how much energy she has when we walked her around our pond.
    In the evening we took Lexi on a longer walk down Horseshoe Lake Road.  She was again full of energy and leading the way.  We had to do the walk at a faster clip than what we usually do.
    I think Lexi is exactly what we were looking for.  We are very happy.

Take a look at my photo-realistic paintings:

Friday 5 July 2019

Squirrel No. 3....and 4

    It seems I had a bigger squirrel problem in my shop than I imagined. 
    If you read the blog I wrote the other day you will know that a squirrel (seems it was really squirrels) was making a mess of my shop, tearing up insulation, and depositing pine cones in cubby holes all over.  After taking several other measures to try to get rid of the “squirrel”  I borrowed a friend’s live trap.
    I caught the squirrel and relocated it down the road.  I set the live trap once again just to make sure there wasn’t another squirrel in the shop, and caught another one, then another one, and this morning caught the fourth one.  Yikes, I had a whole colony living in my shop.  I reset the trap once again this morning, but I sure hope I have now gotten them all.
    I have been releasing them all at the same spot up the road, in case they want to see each other, but now I am wondering if they will all find enough food in that one location.  While living here, they were using my bird feeder as a food source.  At any rate, I will leave that problem to Mother Nature.

You can view my paintings:

Thursday 4 July 2019

A Time for Vetch

    One of the pleasures of the spring and summer seasons for me, is watching the progression of flowering plants.  Each has their specific time of blooming.  Many of the early spring bloomers have now disappeared, as the current ones begin to take their place in the sun.
    Yesterday we were taking our afternoon walk in the rain when I noticed that the American Vetch was blooming along the edge of the roadway.  Vetch grows like a vine, often forming bush-like clumps.  My plant book says it might be mildly toxic.
    I was attracted by its rich purple/violet color against the green of grasses.  The drops of water on the leaves added to the image.  I ended up taking a slew of photos; here are two of them.

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Wednesday 3 July 2019

Enough is Enough

    Years ago fiberglass insulation went on sale at our local hardware store, so I decided to isolate the walls and ceiling of my shop.  I did the walls and put isolation in the ceiling and sealed it off with a plastic vapor barrier.  I slapped on drywall on the walls, but never got around to putting it on the ceiling.  
    Over the years a squirrel discovered that it could chew through the vapor barrier in the ceiling and make tunnels through the insulation.  It pulled out a bits of the soft fluffy insulation and used it to make nests and storage areas for the sunflower seeds from the bird feeder and spruce cones amongst the items on the shelves of the shop  The squirrel was ruining my ceiling, and making a real mess of the things on the in the shop.  
    I love wildlife and enjoy seeing it, but while making an attempt to clean up my shop, I reached the end of my tolerance.  Determined to stop the squirrel from using my shop as it’s home, I used wire mesh to seal off all of the possible entry points that a squirrel might use to get into the shop.  That didn’t stop the squirrel, so next I used the terribly smelly spray, designed to keep deer from eating our flowers, and sprayed it into all of the insulation tunnel entrances  in the ceiling.  That also didn’t work.
    So last night I hauled out the heavy artillery and used a live trap to capture the squirrel.  That did work.
    This morning discovered that I had captured the squirrel, and I drove it down the road to an isolated wooded area to release it.  Hopefully the varmint will have enough time before winter to make himself a new home.  
    While it’s nice to try to live in harmony with nature, there are times when lines have to be drawn.

You can see my photo-realistic paintings at:

Tuesday 2 July 2019

Resting Deer

    A few minutes ago  I glanced outside toward the pasture and saw something that looked out of place.  Upon focusing my eyes I saw that it was a deer taking a snooze in the pasture.  That reminded me that a few days ago I took a photo of a contented deer sticking it’s head above the weeds.  Here is that photo.

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Monday 1 July 2019

The Smell of Clover

    Happy Canada Day!
    Yesterday was sunny and warm so we drove out to Jervis Road to have a walk.  When we got out of the car, we were engulfed with a sweet fragrance.  We were puzzled at first, not knowing where it was coming from, but as we walked down the road, it finally dawned on us that it was probably the red clover.   
    I plucked a red clover flower from the side of the road to confirm our suspicions, and sure enough, it gave me the same sweet smell that had stimulated my olfactory glands when we got out of the car.  Although clover didn’t visually dominate the fields, and I guess the plants that were there were really putting out.

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