Sunday 29 September 2019

Community Garden Workday

    Saturday we had a workday at the McBride Community garden and there were a lot of volunteers that came to do the work, some of which didn’t even have boxes in the garden.  (I think one of the big draws was that do-it -yourselfers got a chance to use their rechargeable drills to drive screws.)  Besides cleaning out some of the plots after our killing frost, the big goal of the day was to heighten all of the raised beds so that it would be easier on the gardeners to work in their boxes. 
    A local sawmill provided the cedar 2 X 6’s, two layers of which were added and attached to the beds, heighten them by a foot (30cm).   There was a lot of whirring of cordless drills, as corners pieces were constructed, the 2 X 6’s joined together at the ends to make the rectangular box extenders, and the connecting of the height extenders and corner pieces were added to each box.  
     The work day was well organized and it was surprising how quickly the tasks got done.  It is going to take a lot of soil now to fill the boxes up so they can be used next year.

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Saturday 28 September 2019

Killing Frost

    As was forecast, we got our killing frost last night as the temperature plunge down to -5C (23F).  All of the tender plants in the garden got clobbered and the tougher ones, like the cabbage you see, were powdered with frost crystals.  That is the price we had to pay for clear skies.  Tomorrow night it will get even colder, -8F (17F).  
    The cold put an end to our garden for the season, now that most everything is dead, I suspect it will warm up again, as I start cleaning out and taking all of the dead plants to the compost pile.

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Friday 27 September 2019

Climate Action Strike

    Although I am a very politically oriented person, I try my best to stay away from politics on this blog, however I have lived without hope for so long, that when I see how the young are putting themselves out there to try to save the Earth and their future, I am so greatly appreciative.  The Earth is going down, and despite all of the “green” talk, very little is really being done to solve the problem.  It gives me hope seeing that the younger generation realizes the reality of the situation and is making a stand to push for real action.
    Since 16 year old Greta Thunberg started her solitary climate strikes every Friday a year ago, her idea has blossomed and has created a world wide movement.  I can only hope that it will continue, and everyone on this planet will begin to do what they can to save it.  Like some of their protest signs say, “There is no Planet B”.

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Thursday 26 September 2019

Ugh, the Weather

    I’m finding it harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning.  The morning sky is getting progressively darker as we proceed into Fall, the temperature is getting cooler, and it seems it is always raining.  This has been the wettest Spring, Summer, and Fall that I can remember.  Never before have I had standing water in my garden, slimy muddy ruts in my driveway, or the squishy sound of water under the grass as you walk.
    As someone, who is motivated by sunshine, it is hard for me to get things done.  This weekend promises sunny days, but along with it we will be getting killing frosts.  Oh well, it is what it is.

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Wednesday 25 September 2019

Dog With An Insatiable Appetite

    Looking at our dog Lexi, one might think she is a very refined and civilized canine.  This would be a misconception, because Lexi is a ravenous dog with a voracious appetite that is never satisfied.  She is a rescue dog so we don’t really know what her previous life was like, but we were told that she came from a First Nation’s reserve.  She must have been pretty food insecure because that is by far the main focus of her life.
    A few days ago my wife was getting ready to go to one of her quilting weekends and she had all of her sewing supplies all packed up and sitting by the back door.  She had made herself a sandwich for her lunch which was wrapped in a plastic bag and placed inside a bag with some of her other supplies.  While waiting to leave, she suddenly asked, “Where is Lexi?”  This phrase always puts a panic in our house.
    She did a search and discovered our refined pet, with her head in the supply bag and the wrapped sandwich in her mouth.
    We have been going to Koeneman Park to walk Lexi.  We bought some “compostable” poop bags made out of corn meal, that we use whenever Lexi does her business in the park.  We keep them in the car.  
    The other day when we left Lexi in the car while we were in the grocery store, we came back to the car and found Lexi down on the floor of the passenger side trying to eat the corn meal compostable poop bags.  Her sense of smell must extraordinary to detect the molecules of corn meal in those bags.

    It’s not like we don’t feed her, she gets two regular meals a day and constant snacks of blueberries, raspberries, green beans, and regular dog treats throughout the day, but no matter how much is in her little stomach, she always wants more.  We have to watch her closely so she doesn’t eat the wrong thing.

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Tuesday 24 September 2019

Unexpected Traffic

    The other day when we were going down Ziedler Road to fill up the car with gas at the cardlock unexpectedly we ran into this colorful mini-caravan.  You never really know what you will see coming down the road in the Robson Valley.

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Monday 23 September 2019

Autumn Has Arrived

    This morning was a good start to Autumn.  It was cool, damp, and foggy.  I even noticed this maple tree with peach-colored leaves.  There aren’t many trees other fall colored leaves to be seen yet, a lot of the cottonwood have already lost most of their leaves before they had a chance to turn.
    Later in the week the nighttime temperatures are supposed to dip to -5C (23F), but that is a few days off so hopefully the forecast will moderate before it hits us.

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Sunday 22 September 2019

Community Pie Making Day

    Yesterday I joined a cross-section of other Robson Valley residents to make apple pies.  This is an annual event that makes the pies to sell to raise money for both the McBride Library and Museum.  It was a rather frustrating day for me because it seemed that none of the apple peelers/corer/slicer gadgets that I used worked properly no matter how much I tinkered with them, so in the end I went back to just peeling, coring, and slicing the apples with a knife.
    Despite my frustrations, everyone else must have been doing okay because before we knew it we had reached our quota of 400  apple pies.

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Friday 20 September 2019

Ken Burns" "Country Music"

    I have always loved the documentary films made by Ken Burns and shown on PBS stations.  I have always loved music and  I have always loved history, so when I heard that Ken Burns was making a documentary about country music, I was excited to see it.  That series has now aired on PBS stations and I was certainly not disappointed in the film.
    Like his other documentaries (The Civil War, Baseball, The West, Jazz, World War II, etc), it was full of unusual photos and film clips, wonderful human stories, and great music.  “Country Music” went back and traced the roots of the music, Irish folk tunes, and black blues, then showed how individuals borrowed, mixed, and innovated it into the various branches now incorporated into the genre (Bluegrass, Honky Tonk, Western Swing, Folk, etc) .  It was all enlightening and entertaining.
    I was surprised at how many of the tunes we that we play at our Tuesday Night Jam ended up as background music in the film.  “Country Music” certainly gave me a greater understanding of the music writers and performers that gave us those songs.   Unfortunately, a lot of our jam musicians don’t have access to PBS, so I ordered the DVD of the series and will give it to the McBride Library so they can watch it.
    It is a bit of a bummer to be telling you about the series now that it is over.  I guess those of you in the US can stream it with a PBS Passport app, but Canadians are just out of luck because because of copyright restrictions. 

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Thursday 19 September 2019

Robson River Water

    Here is a photo of some of the churning water rushing down the Robson River.  I took the shot during the hike up to Kinney Lake to hear the alphorns perform.  
    Turbulent clear mountain water is always a sensual treat, a thing of beauty as it tumbles and splashes, always seeking a lower elevation, and at the same time a bit of a threat, as you feel and hear its power running so close beside you.  

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Wednesday 18 September 2019

Horses in the Pasture

    We always enjoy seeing the horses out in the pasture along Horseshoe Lake Road, even if all they are doing is standing around.  One of the other things that made me take this photo was the near-iridescent blue hue of the mountain contrasted by the yellow-green of the foreground.
    While nothing much is happening here, the overall image does give me a restful pleasure.

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Tuesday 17 September 2019

Charging Station?

    Last week when we drove into McBride to pick up our mail at the post office, I glanced over to the western edge of the parking lot and noticed this blue thing standing there.  I walked over to investigate, and it sure seems to me that McBride now has a charging station for electric vehicles.  I don’t remember seeing any announcements, so either I missed it or it hasn’t been announced officially yet.
    While I really love the idea of electric vehicles, the great distances we face around here to get anywhere have always seemed an obstacle to electric vehicles.  We can only go in two directions in McBride, east or west. If we go west its 217 km (135 miles) to Prince George, with nothing in between but trees, and if we go east its a two hour drive to Jasper before we can refill (or re-charge), so electric vehicles are not really very practical yet.  All of the hills and cold winters would also aggravate the problem.
    But with all that said, I was happy to see that things are improving for electric vehicles.  I haven’t really seen any around here, but maybe some have gone through.  At any rate, it is a sign of progress that it looks like we at least have a charging station in McBride.

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Monday 16 September 2019

After the Fog Burned Off

    We woke up blanketed by fog this morning.  After breakfast we made the short drive down to Koeneman Park to walk Lexi.  By the time we got there the fog had just burned off opening up a view of the Cariboo Mountains that were resplendent with a fresh painting of snowmaking them look fresh and crisp.  It is certainly looking and feeling more and more like Autumn.

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Sunday 15 September 2019

Colorful Rain Gear

    I can’t help but smile every time we see Lexi in her turquoise raincoat.  Actually we all have pretty colorful rain gear.

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Saturday 14 September 2019

Car-Herding a Grouse

    The other day as we were coming down our driveway and slowed as we approached the carport, a Ruffed Grouse who was in the yard, slowly walked in front of the car.  It was so close to the front of the car that I could no longer see it.  I didn’t know quite what to do so I just began driving really slowly, figuring that the grouse wasn’t smart enough to move, it would probably be an advantage to its species to be eliminated from the gene pool.
   It was smart enough to move, but not smart enough to get out of the way of the car.  I kept driving very slowly, and still couldn’t see the grouse.  Then when we were halfway in the carport, finally the grouse used enough brain power to fly away.  It flew out of the open end of the carport and onto our old chicken pen.
    Grouse always think if they stand perfectly still no one can see them, and thanks to their amazing camouflage that strategy usually works.  It stood there on the chicken pen not moving a muscle, so I couldn’t help but take a photo of it.
    We usually see grouse in yard during the fall.  They like to eat the tiny crab apples that fall from our tree.

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Friday 13 September 2019

Day of the Plant-Based Burger

    It was an unusual day for me yesterday, as far as diet was concerned.  I spent most of the morning splitting and stacking firewood, and when I was done I went in for lunch and remembered I really hadn’t planned ahead like I normally do.  I was trying to think of what I could quickly fix when I remembered that we had some frozen plant-based burgers that we had bought at Costco in the freezer, so I thought I would just fix myself one of those.
    Plant-based burgers have really been making a splash on the news lately, and I am certainly a convert.  New developments by Beyond Meat and Impossible have really made them taste, feel, and look like meat.  These new ones  are delicious, and so much tastier than what used to be available.  
    I first heard about the Beyond Meat burger when it was introduced in Canada at A&W.  I was curious and tried one, and I couldn’t believe how much it tasted like a beef burger, I liked it better, it was juicy and delicious.  The next time we went to Prince George we ate at A&W again.  I ordered the Beyond Meat burger, and my wife got herself a regular burger.  We sat down to eat, I was working on the fries while she was tucking into the burger.  I then tasted mine, and immediately asked her, “Are you sure you are eating the right burger?”
    Sure enough, she was eating my plant-based Beyond Meat, and didn’t even realize it.  It is really amazing how they have created that beef taste just using things like peas and other plants.  Now whenever we go up to Prince George we like to stop at A&W for a Beyond Meat burger.
    Anyway, back to yesterday.  I ate my burger for my lunch at home, my wife came home, and I was reading in bed when suddenly I noticed that our dog was squirming around and acting strangely.  She seemed to have some kind of problem with her back leg.  She couldn’t stand up, which threw us into a panic.  
    Luckily we were able to get an appointment with the Valemount Vet Clinic, and made the one hour drive to Valemount.  By the time we got there of course, our dog seemed back to normal, and the vet couldn’t really find anything that had caused the problem.  
    Valemount does have an A&W, and every time we go to Valemount we stop there to eat a Beyond Meat burger.  I hadn’t told my wife that I already had eaten a plant-based burger at home for lunch, so I had a second one--two in one day.
    I am not a vegetarian, but I try to avoid eating mammals.  I have done that for decades.  I do really like the taste of hamburgers, and so I find it really great that I can have that exact taste without having an animal die.  

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Thursday 12 September 2019

Hydrangea: Tougher Than I Thought

    Last Spring we were attracted to a small beautiful Hydrangea plant at a gardening center.  It sported intensely blue clusters of flowers.  We couldn’t resist, so we bought it and planted it beside our house.  It looked good all summer, but by the fall, it didn’t really look all that healthy.
    I had first noticed a blue flowered Hydrangea bush along my cousin’s driveway, down on Vancouver Island.  Since their climate is a whole lot milder than ours, I figured that the Hydrangea we had purchased, was probably not going to survive through our cold winters, but I was willing to exert a bit of effort just in case it might survive up here, so I dug it up, and replanted it in our garden.  I didn’t really have much hope for it.
    In the Spring, still in our garden, I noticed that it did have some leaf buds developing, which surprised me, so I dug it up and replanted it in our front yard.  It took a while to get going, the leaves finally developed and the plant slowly grew a bit throughout the summer.  I didn’t really hold out any hope that we we would get any flowers out of it, but as you can see by the photo, we did.
    It seems that the color of Hydrangea flowers depend on the acidity of the soil.  If the acidity is acidic the blooms are blue or purple, and if the soil is alkaline the flowers are pink or red.  Looks like we have acidic soil.  My investigations on the internet also said I should insulate the plant during the winter with straw or mulch to protect it from the cold.  I guess I was pretty lucky last winter, since I didn’t do that and it still survived our long, cold, winters.

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Wednesday 11 September 2019

Dead Maple

    I’m sure when people see this dead tree, at the Slim Creek Rest Area, if they notice it at all, they don’t think anything about it, but to me it was a deep disappointment seeing that it had died, because a couple of years ago during the fall, I was attracted to this Maple because of its beautiful deep red and orangish leaves that were laying on the ground and covered with frost.  I was so taken with it’s leaves that I did a painting of them.

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Tuesday 10 September 2019

Warren Jones: Chainsaw Guru

    I have been having to do some logging lately so that I will have enough firewood to get me through the winter.  The chain on my chainsaw needed to be replaced, so I went to the only person I knew who might be able to sell me a new one--Warren Jones.  For decades he had run a chainsaw repair shop, but I wasn’t sure if he was still doing it.   I ran into him on Main Street on Saturday and found out he was still dealing with chainsaws so yesterday I took my chainsaw over to his place to get a new chain.
    When I walked into his shop, I was gobsmacked.  There were so many chainsaws, used chainsaw parts and tools that there was hardly any place for people to stand.  Warren took my chainsaw and looked it over to check if every thing else about it was okay, and all the while he was giving me tips about chainsaw care and use. 
    He put together a new chain for me, and showed me how to properly sharpen it (something I have obviously been doing incorrectly for 40 years.)   He gave me a new sharpening file, and cleaned out my chainsaw’s air filter, showing me the correct way to do it.
    The half hour I spent with Warren was really beneficial and I learned all kind of things I should have learned decades ago.  Warren is one of the Robson Valley’s real characters, and a really helpful and valuable members of our community.  I did wonder how he ever found any of his tools, he had so many and they were all in a jumble.  

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Monday 9 September 2019

Oh, It's A Couple of Sandhills

    Yesterday as we were doing our walk down Horseshoe Lake Road, we suddenly heard a loud bizarre gobbily-croaking sound that at first we couldn’t figure out.  Finally it registered in our brain that what we were hearing was a couple of Sandhill Cranes.  As we looked around we finally spotted them in the pasture beside us.  Their gray color blended in quite nicely with the grass that surrounded them.  They had seen us coming down the road and were becoming alarmed, and let us know.
    We had heard Sandhills before, but always in a flock and far away.  Hearing them loud and up close was a unique experience for us.  My bird book calls their sound a “trumpeting, rattling, gar-oo-oo  that can be heard as far as a mile away.  
    I was happy that the Sandhills didn’t get disturbed enough by our presence to fly off, but they did slowly make their way toward some taller weeds that made them feel more secure.

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Sunday 8 September 2019

Oregano Oil Really Helped Me

    I’m always pretty skeptical about a lot of the “natural” “miracle” organic supplements found in health food stores, but I have really changed my opinion about one of them--Oregano Oil, after my wife talked me into trying it.  
    I have three “problem” teeth that my periodontist is trying to save.  The gums around those teeth have  receded quite a bit and they are a bit loose.
    About six months ago one of those problem teeth, a back molar, started to become really sensitive to temperature.  Eating became a painful experience for me because of its sensitivity. I was extremely miserable and was seriously thinking of having the tooth pulled.  Not only that, but I developed what I thought was a really bad cold, with my sinuses running and stopped up.  I felt pretty miserable.
     At least I thought I had a cold.   Now I wonder if I had some kind of infection around the molar and that somehow spread into my sinuses.   That is when it was suggested me to that I try some Oregano Oil.  I put five drops into a shot glass of water and gulped the foul tasting stuff down three times a day. 
    I was amazed at what happened.  Both my tooth sensitivity and “cold” quickly disappeared within a couple of days.
    Just last week, I started having trouble with my teeth again.  One of my front teeth, which is capped, started getting loose after eating corn on the cob,  then it seemed that some of my top molars started touching in a different way, when I closed my mouth.  It was like they had been pushed downward a bit.
    Again, I thought that I was going to have to get my front tooth pulled, then I thought of the Oregano Oil and started taking it.  In a day both problems cleared up.  I am really impressed with the stuff.
    Oregano Oil is supposed to be antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitical.  I keep thinking that my problem with my teeth was a low level infection, but whatever it was Oregano Oil sure cleared it up.  
    I don’t know how many people have the same problem I had, but if you do, you sure should give Oregano Oil a try.  

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Saturday 7 September 2019

Sleeping on Shoes

    I have blogged several times about how Lexi always seems to find the softest spots to take her naps.  Softness, however doesn’t always seem to be her first criteria.  We discovered that the other day, when suddenly we didn’t know where Lexi was and set out to investigate.  We had to shake our heads in disbelief when we discovered her all curled up snoozing on a pile of shoes by the front door.
    I have now idea why she decided to sleep on a pile of shoes, when she had already discovered half a dozen other places to sleep in the house that would be a whole lot more comfortable.  I don’t know why she would even have any desire to lay down with a lot of soles and heels sticking into her.  
    We have now found her sleeping here a couple of times.  Sometimes I just can’t figure out what is going on in that little brain of hers.

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Friday 6 September 2019

Lexi, Our Athletic Dog

    When we were pouring over the dog rescue sites on the internet and came across Lexi, one of the things that stood out was her age.  They had estimated that it was between 7-10 years old.  We didn’t want to get a dog that was so old that it would die on us, but at the same time, we realized that we were no spring chickens either, so we thought it might be good to get an old dog and not some energetic young one.
    Boy, were we surprised when we got Lexi.  She is the most energetic dog we have ever had.  When we go for a walk, it is more like a run, with me jogging and sometimes sprinting beside her, so I can keep up.  She “walks” at such a quick pace that even if I walk as fast as I can I can’t keep up and have to break into a jog.
    We decided to take Lexi along on our hike up to Kinney Lake the other day.  That is a 9 km (5.5 mile) round trip.  I figured it would probably wear her out, so I carried a big day pack just in case I would have to carry Lexi back home, but she motored up the trail and back down the trail without slowing her pace at all (she did do a lot of sudden stopping to sniff out animal scents).  
    Of course, all her energy is keeping me in shape to.  It really makes us wonder if she is as old as they estimated.   All her non-stop energy has sure been a surprise to us.

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Thursday 5 September 2019

Kinney Lake

    I blogged about the alphorns concert up at Kinney Lake yesterday, and today I just want to show you a couple of photos I took of the amazing landscape around the lake.  Above you can see some of the mountains that surround it, and if you look carefully along the shore, you can see the picnic shelter that  will give you some idea of the scale of the topography.
    The photo below shows a rock sticking out of the turquoise water flowing out of the lake.  The water’s color is the result of all the fine particles of rock which were ground up by the glaciers.  Those particles are so small they are suspended in the water.

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Wednesday 4 September 2019

Alphorns at Mt. Robson

    On Monday we hiked up to Mt. Robson Park’s Kinney Lake to experience the third day of McBride’s “Arts in the Parks”.   Keith Berg and Jane Houlden put on a lakeside concert with their Alphorns.  It was a unique experience to hear the horns echoing amongst the mountains that surround Kinney Lake.  Of course many of the local people on the trail knew about the concert, but it was a wonderful surprise for many of the tourist who had done the hike, to suddenly hear the horns echoing in the mountains.
    The one hour hike to Kinney Lake is a wonderful thing in itself.  The trail follows along side of the roaring turquoise Robson River, passing through a dark Cedar and Hemlock forest full of mosses, ferns and mushrooms.  Then the beautiful blue lake nestled amongst the mountains comes into view.  To have all of that, then the alphorns too, really made for a really special day. 

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Tuesday 3 September 2019

More "Arts in the Parks"

    This was a pretty active Labour Day long weekend for me.  On Saturday I was out at Ancient Forest Provincial Park to show off a couple of my paintings, then on Sunday our “Tuesday Night Jam” played in the park in McBride.  Before we played there was music by the Robson Valley Spring Ensemble and a local gospel group.  After we got done a performer had played in the pub the night before did some Johnny Cash covers.
    One of our audience members took a photo of our jam playing and was nice enough to give us a copies.  Unfortunately she had taken panorama shots because we were so spread out.  It was a long photo and we were all pretty tiny.  I used Photoshop on her pictures and squeezed us all together and that is the photo you see above.
    On Monday the “Arts in the Parks” moved to Mt. Robson and I will blog about that tomorrow.

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Sunday 1 September 2019

Art in the Ancient Forest

    Yesterday I participated in the second annual “Art in the Ancient Forest” celebration. Last year they had asked me to display some of my paintings, but the only painting that related to the cedar forest (Old Growth) was framed under glass, and I knew that it would be difficult to see outside with all of the reflections in the glass, so I just spent the day wandering around in the forest taking photos.  I didn’t really want to display any of my other paintings because their subject matter had nothing to do with the forest that was being celebrated.
    Over the past year I painted “Devi’s Club” which featured an image of the plant whose photo I had taken in the forest.  I have been working on a painting of “Skunk Cabbage” a plant that also grows in the deep cedar forest.  It was only half done, but I took it along to explain to show people how I paint one square a day.
    The organizers of the celebration had situated me in a beautiful shady section along the boardwalk trail that meanders through the Ancient Forest.  I was in a nice little shelter that would protect me from showery weather, but the weather was perfect, and there was a constant flow of people walking the trails.  Over and over I explained how I painted and got a lot of compliments on my work.
    I will have to come up with another image from the forest for next year.  It was interesting to see how nicely my Devil’s Club painting fit into the Devil’s Club environment where its source photo originated.

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