Saturday 30 November 2019

Hoar Frost

    Hoar frost, characterized by it’s large flat crystals forms during periods of clear cold weather.  It is delicate and beautiful to see.  I spotted some yesterday that had grown upon the weeds along Horseshoe Lake Road.  
    While beautiful to see, it can be dangerous when it forms up in the snowpack of the mountains.  It creates a weak layer in the snow, and when more snow accumulates on top of it, the fragile crystals of hoar frost below can crumble and break loose causing an avalanche.  Avalanche experts did down through the snow layers to check for weak layers before they ski or do other winter activities high in the mountains.

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Friday 29 November 2019

Beautiful Winter Light

    I was sitting at my desk about to blog a book review when I happened to glance over to the window of the balcony door and saw the beautiful winter lighting that was happening outside.  I grabbed my camera, opened the balcony door that was stuck due to the frost, and took the photo above.  It has been cold, (-20C, -4F) this morning, but having the clear skies and sunshine is worth the extra wood I have to throw into the wood stove.

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Thursday 28 November 2019

Koeneman Park in the Snow

    We often take Lexi for an early morning walk at Koeneman Park.  It was quite beautiful the other day after our snowfall.  I loved the simplicity and symmetry of the Koeneman’s old log house with its snow-covered roof, situated among all of the gray textures which were brought out by the snow.
    Below is a shot of the Fraser River’s mirror-like surface which was taken from Koeneman Park.

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Wednesday 27 November 2019

A Blank Canvas

    Today I started on a new painting, so I thought I would explain how I begin the process.  First I have decide what the subject will be.  Yesterday I looked through my photos and settled on the image of water and rocks that you see above.  Because the photo had different dimensions from the canvas I was going to use, I had to crop the image to fit the canvas.  I will just be painting what you can see between the two turquoise lines.
    I open the image in Photoshop on my computer and play around with it until I like what I see.  I use Photoshop to put a 2 inch grid over the image, and draw out a 2 inch grid on my canvas.  Then I start painting.  I zoom in on my computer to that first square in the upper left hand corner of the image so that is all I can see on my screen.
    I go to the corresponding square on the canvas and try to paint exactly what I see on the screen.  
    I usually paint holding the canvas on my lap.  Because the canvas is 24 inches by 30 inches, it would be pretty awkward painting that corner square, so I made the image horizontal and hold the canvas horizontally when I paint it.
    You can see what I paint every day on my website by clicking on “Current Work” on the top menu.

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Tuesday 26 November 2019

Skunk Cabbage; My Latest Painting

    Yesterday I painted the last square on “Skunk Cabbage” my sixty first painting.  I always enjoy seeing a skunk cabbage plant when I am hiking through the woods.  They are not that common and only grow in the very wettest areas like in very shallow standing water, often in often dark moist forests.  I spotted this particular plant along the Lower Goat River Trail, growing beside a small slow-moving creek at the bottom of a moss covered slope.
    Like my other paintings, this was done using acrylics.  It is 24” by 30”.  The 180 squares that make up the painting took me 148 hours to paint.  I painted the image in a horizontal position for ease, and it was interesting to finally see what it looked like in this vertical position when I finished.

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Monday 25 November 2019

A White World

    When I woke up this morning and looked outside, everything was white and fuzzy looking from the snowfall we got overnight.  It is supposed to turn colder, so I was happy to see at least some snow on the ground.  Here are some shots of what it looked like around our house and barn.

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Sunday 24 November 2019

A Valemount Christmas Fair Mistake

    Yesterday was the Valemount Christmas Fair, the last of the season’s fairs that I participate in.  In the past I have been able to sell prints of one of my paintings in Valemount, so I made a special trip to the Whistlestop Gallery in McBride to pick up the only copy of my truck painting prints, so I could have it as well as all of the others in Valemount.  I added it to the box of other prints I planned to take.
    I loaded up the car with things I wanted to take to the Valemount Fair the night before.  I took a couple of easels, and a couple of my guitar stands to hold the prints for display.  Yesterday when I left for the Fair it was starting to snow pretty hard so I was a bit worried about the hour’s highway drive.  There was slush on the highway for 2/3rds of the trip, but then the snow disappeared and the highway was dry.
    I got to the Valemount High School Gym and started setting up my table.  I laid out all of the art cards of my paintings and my calendars.  I  set up the easels to hold the prints of my paintings.  It was then I discovered that I had forgotten to put the box of prints into the car, so I had none to sell.  I was pretty disgusted with myself for the oversight.
    A woman came up to my table and said, “There you are.  I need a calendar.  That is the only reason I came to the fair.” 
    Its nice to have dedicated fans, and it made me feel good.
    I often tell people to look up their birthday on the calendar to see what trivia happened on that day.  I told one woman to look hers up and discovered her birthday was Feb. 29th, and 2020 will be a Leap Year.  She told me that will make her 11 years old on her birthday.
    A small boy came up to look at the calendars which were open on the table.  He started asking questions about it.  It surprised me because he didn’t seem to know what a calendar was or how it worked.  I wondered if it was the result of all the modern technology that have replaced so many things we took for granted.
    While I did well at the fair, I didn’t quite sell as much as I normally do.  That seemed to be the the opinion of some of the other vendors.

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Thursday 21 November 2019

Just Scenery

    While I am continually trying to find something interesting to photograph, quite often all that I can come up with is a scenery shot.  That is what you are getting today.  We moved to the Robson Valley because of its beauty, and even though there isn’t much happening in this picture, for me the golden brown color of the pastureland contrasted against the deep blue of the snowy Cariboo Mountains, is enough to inspire me.

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Wednesday 20 November 2019


The other day when someone mentioned the last letter of the alphabet, “Zee” to Americans, but “Zed” to Canadians, my memory flashed back to my first day of teaching in a one-room school deep in the Interior of British Columbia.  I had taken the teaching job as someone who had grown up and was educated in the US, without ever having been in a Canadian School, so I had a lot to learn.
    There had never been a school in this logging camp on Takla Lake, where I had taken on the job.  I was to set one up a one-room school and run it.  It was a daunting task, considering my lack of knowledge of Canadian schools and having absolutely no experience or knowledge of how to manage a one-room school.
    At least on that first day, I didn’t have but four students, just the children of a local First Nation’s family.  
    I had no experience being around First Nation children.  They meekly entered the room which was in the logging camp’s Recreation Hall (there was no school building that first year) and I welcomed them and motioned them over to sit around a table which I had set up.  Once I had them seated, I began to talk to them in an attempt to find out their names and ages, so that I could get a sense of where they were academically. 
    To my dismay, all I got was bowed heads and silence.  I couldn’t get them to even look at me, let alone speak.  It was a horrible and inadequate feeling that overtook me.  (I found out later that First Nations people consider it rude to look people straight in the eye, so they probably thought negative things about me on this first introduction.)
Luckily, after a time, I gained the confidence of Ralph, who I later determined was about at the  third grade level, and he began to open up a bit.  Soon, the others began to timidly join the conversation.
      I got another surprise, when I urged Ralph to recite the alphabet for me. 
“That’s great, Ralph, go on.”
I was beaming.  “Keep going Ralph”
“Great, finish up,” I encouraged, and nodding my head to indicate that he was doing great.
X, Y, ZED.”
“ZED?”, My head jerked back in surprise, I had never heard of “ZED”,  “What’s ‘ZED?, you mean “ZEE”.  
“No,” Ralph replied confidently, and all his siblings confirmed and chimed in, “ZED!!!”

This was the first lesson in the school and it was a lesson for me.  I had just discovered that Canadian English and American English was not the same.  Canadians didn’t have a “ZEE” at the end of their alphabet, they had a “ZED”.  

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Tuesday 19 November 2019

I've Had Enough of Rainy Weather

     As someone who is positively influenced by sunshine, it has been a hard to take Autumn.  The ground is totally saturated with puddles in the yard where I have never seen them before.  The only good thing about the photo above is the golden glow of the grasses in the pasture.  The mountains can’t be seen because of the moisture-laden gray clouds.
    It has been the wettest year I can remember.  During the summer I could rationalize all the showers and rain by saying, at least we won’t get any forest fires, but now that summer is over, I am having a hard time thinking of some rational for staying positive.
    It is forecast to dip a bit below freezing over the next couple of nights, so maybe that will at least harden up some of the mud.

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Monday 18 November 2019

Lexi in the Rearview Mirror

    Sometimes Lexi is just a bit to smart for her own good.   Now she has figured out how to open the back window in the car when we are driving.  
    We had harnesses that hooked on to the rear seatbelts for our previous dogs that would hopefully protect them in case of an accident, and we bought one for Lexi when we got her, but it never did fit properly, so we haven’t been using it. 
    Being a very curious dog, Lexi often stands up on the back seat propping her paws on the door’s arm rest.  Unfortunately the window opener is located on the arm rest and sometimes Lexi’s paw hits the window opener and opens the rear window, so we are driving along and suddenly hear and feel wind, and see Lexi in the rearview mirror with her head out of the window.  Over time she has figured out how to purposely open it.
    This is a bad practice which could lead to an eye injury or something.  There is a window lock I can press to prevent the windows from being open, but when Lexi is curled up and peaceful in the back seat, I often forget to press it, and then as we travel,  I am suddenly surprised to discover Lexi with her head out in the wind, analyzing all the scent molecules blowing passed her nose.
    We’ve got to find her a harness that fits.

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Sunday 17 November 2019

McBride Christmas Fair, 2019

    I have been participating in McBride Christmas Fairs for 40 years, selling everything from mohair yarn, Christmas ornaments, and art work.  These past few years it has been my calendars, art cards, and prints of my paintings that I have been hawking.  There were something like forty venders at yesterday’s events, and a lot of products went out the door.
    I didn’t sell quite as much as last year, but came pretty close to paying for the printing of my calendars, so next Saturday at the Valemount Fair I should get out of the red and make some profit.  
    The annual fair is a big social event which allows everyone to catch up on the lives of friends and acquaintances that they haven’t seen for maybe a whole year.  I was exhausted after the 4 hours of schmoozing, socializing, and selling. 

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Friday 15 November 2019

March on Washington: Fifty Years Ago Today

    Fifty years ago today I was in Washington DC along with 500,00 other people who had gathered to show their opposition to the US sponsored slaughter in Vietnam. 
    At that point in my life, I had left the Peace Corp because of language difficulties and the sense I got from the instructors I most respected, that the Philippine teacher seminar program I was being trained for was basically just a sweetener for all of the US military bases there.  It would not help to solve any major problem they were having.
    When I decided to leave the Peace Corp I vowed to myself that I would try to do more to try to end the senseless killing in Vietnam.  I wrote letters and worked as a Draft councilor to provide males of my age, information about their rights and options as far as being drafted into the military. 
    When I heard about this peace march in Washington, I was eager to be a part of it.  I naively believed with so many people going to Washington, Nixon might recognize what massive opposition there was to the Vietnam War, but he still had his flag-waving base, and ignored us.
    I traveled overnight on a bus with others from my home town to get to Washington DC.  Once we had arrived I was amazed at how many people were there to demonstrate against the war.  It is still considered the largest demonstration ever in Washington DC.  The crowd was so big, I didn’t really know what was going on, I just followed with them as the crowd moved along.
    There were speeches and music (Pete Seeger, Peter Paul and Mary, John Denver, and Arlo Guthrie) but I didn’t see or hear any of it, because my section of the crowd was still probably a mile away from where that happened.  
    I spent the night sleeping with others in one of the many school gyms that were open to provide shelter to the demonstrators. The next day, boarded a bus to return back home.  It was a whirlwind weekend trip.
    Even though all I did was march with the thousands and thousands of others who felt the same, today; fifty years later, I am very proud that I was there, and although the march didn’t end the war (in the following years, thousands and thousands more were destined yet to die, or be physically and psychologically maimed for Nixon’s politics), at least I made an effort to stop the madness.

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Thursday 14 November 2019

Shipping News

    Because we live in an isolated village where a lot of things are not available, and two and a half hours away from the nearest urban center, we end up buying a lot of things online.  This of course means a lot of waiting for the item to arrive.  We pretty much plan on at least two weeks before its will arrival.  Things are a bit faster now, but not much.
    On Nov. 6th I ordered myself a laptop computer online, and have been anticipating its arrival since then.  Thanks to modern technology at least now I can go online and watch its progress across the world.  Above you can see a screenshot of the route it is taking to get to me.  Looking at the its route makes one scratch their heads in confusion, because it seems so inefficient, but I’m sure all of the bean-counters at the courier service have figured out the cheapest way to make a buck.
    My computer started out in China, then was shipped to Korea.  From their it flew to Alaska, then puzzling, it went all the way down to the midwestern US to Louisville, Ky.  After that it retraced its way back in my direction to Seattle.  I checked today and found out that it is at least now in Canada, in the Lower Mainland of BC in Vancouver, so I suspect I will finally get it next week.
    Years ago when I had ordered a computer, I watched it hopscotch around the world, and then when it got to Prince George our closest urban center, and I was all excited about its arrival, it disappeared.  I ended up having to contact the manufacturer and go through the whole waiting procedure again before I finally got it.  Hopefully, this one will not experience the same trouble.

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Wednesday 13 November 2019

Deja Vu

    Watching the Trump Impeachment Hearings that began today, I couldn’t help but flash back to 1973 and the Nixon Impeachment Hearings.  During the time of those hearings, we were driving to and through Canada, both on vacation and a job seeking trip would allow us to immigrate.
    I remember the hot prairie air blowing through the open windows of our Scout as we drove down the long straight Interstate highway through the American Plains, as we listened to the testimonies on the radio, and constantly having to find a new radio station as one after another faded out as we drove. 
    Once our vacationing through Banff National Park was over, we headed to Victoria on Vancouver Island to stay with relatives of relatives as I looked for a teaching job.  Fortunately once there, we found that they were as interested in Nixon’s Impeachment hearings as we were so the television was always on and we were able to keep up with what was happening.
    Luckily in September, after the schools had opened in BC, I was offered a teaching job in a one room school which I took, and that started a new adventure in our lives and allowed us to immigrate.  

Note to comment:   Today everyone knows Nixon did a crime, but at this point of his impeachment process most of his supporters still supported him and thought he was innocent of everything and the impeachment a sham.  At least back then some of the Republican members of Congress possessed ethics and a backbone and put country over party.  I believe history will bring out the truth again this time.

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Tuesday 12 November 2019

Her Master's Food

    The other day my wife was in the living room eating some yogurt, and Lexi, was sitting on the floor in front of her intensely staring up with begging eyes.  The scene made me think of the old Victor Talking Machine Company advertisement showing a dog who was hearing his master’s voice coming out of a gramophone.
    Lexi is such a food-oriented dog and whenever we are in the kitchen, or eating something, she has learned to turn on the sadness in her eyes.  This of course works very effectively, and we usually give in and give her a tidbit.

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Monday 11 November 2019

Cattails and Ice

    I liked the way the sunshine was highlighting the textured ice on the pond the other day when we walked around the path.  I suspect that the ice is now thick enough to walk on, but I really have no reason to do so.

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Sunday 10 November 2019

Season's First Snowfall

    Suddenly the bottomlands of the Robson Valley have joined the mountains in turning white.  Colder temperatures moved in and all those unrelenting rain showers were converted to snow.  Last night we went out to visit friends and I had to re-entrench all those winter driving practices--driving without seeing very far in front of me as the snow fell, driving without being able to see the center lines on the highways, and driving with intense attention.
    At our place we had 4 inches (10cm) of snow on the ground.  This morning’s temperature was -9C (16C).  

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Saturday 9 November 2019

Saturation Point

    Like my garden above, I have pretty much reached my saturation point for rain.  This has been the wettest year I can remember in my forty years of living in the Robson Valley.  I have standing water in places where I have never seen it before:  the floor of my barn is a giant puddle, and there are tracks of deer in the grass in my lawn that have penetrated down to the clay.  
    I only deepen my dismay when I look at the weather forecast for the coming week and see nothing but cloudy skies, rain/showers/snow.  I sure wish that we could send some of this moisture to Australia, California, or other places on the earth, where they desperately need it to combat droughts and fires; we've got more than enough.

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Friday 8 November 2019

Lucifer: Opportunist

    My wife was preparing to do some knitting in bed.  She turned on her heating pad, and spread out her yarns and knitting needles, bit then made a big mistake by leaving the bedroom to get something.  When she returned to start her work, it was too late.  Our cat Lucifer had already moved in and had taken over the heat pad.
    Being soft-hearted soul, my wife revised her plan and left Lucifer on the heating pad.  She pulled up a chair and did her knitting beside the bed, as Lucifer soaked up the heat.

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Thursday 7 November 2019

Cloud Resting On The Mountains

   Here is a telephoto shot I took yesterday of a fluffy cloud laying across McBride Peak.  I liked the pristine whites and blues of the scene, and I thought the dark shadow made by the cloud gave a mysterious touch to the image.

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Wednesday 6 November 2019

Lexi: Detailing Weeds

    I am beginning to realize that we aren’t really taking our dog for “walks” every day, but instead, we are taking her for “smells.”  Lexi is much more interested in smelling than walking.  I find it  fascinating how intense her smelling and analyzing is.
    Sometimes when she does start to run with me running beside her, she will instantly stop cold, turn around, and go back to some weed meters away, then very slowly and carefully, she will run her nose up and down the weed, carefully capturing every scent that she can glean.  This can go on for minutes, until I finally get bored with standing there, and urge her on for her “walk.”
    Our walks are more like spurts, with some running or jogging, punctuated with sudden stops for detailing weeds.   I wish I could get the same enjoyment out of the weed stops as Lexi does.

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Tuesday 5 November 2019

Wettest Year I Can Remember

    2019 has been the wettest year I can remember.  It started in the spring, then continued into the summer and fall.  I continually had standing water in my garden, something that had never happened before, and it really hampered working out there.  I always try to “clean up” the garden and rototill it for the winter, but it was so wet, I finally just gave up and let the garden slide into winter in the mess that it was in.
    I know the year has been really hard on all the farmers who need to produce hay for their animals.  On Sunday I drove out to a ranch to pick up a pile of free moldy hay that couldn’t be fed to their horses, but that I can use to mulch my garden next year.
    Being a person whose personality is heavily influenced by sunlight, it has been really hard for me to get motivated on all of the gray overcast days.  
    Like most gardeners, I think about how much better things will be next year.  Let’s hope that it will.

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Monday 4 November 2019

Ice On The Falls

    I have been slowly ticking off all of those outside things that needed to be done before winter hits.  One of the things that was still on the list was to flush out our water line, and change the filter screen.  Three of us, who share the waterline, hiked up the slope to Sunbeam Creek Falls yesterday to do the deed.  
    While the temperatures have been pretty much hanging slightly above or below the freezing level, with a few cold nights thrown in, I was surprised when we rounded the rock outcropping to see that ice had already formed on and along the falls.  There were a few patches of ice on top of our culvert.  
    We pulled up the watergate to drain the culvert (seen in the middle of the photo) and the water poured out the bottom of the culvert, flushing out the pebbles and gravel that had been trapped there, and once the culvert drained, we changed the filter, put back the watergate, and watched the water slowly fill the culvert and run over the top.
    During the winter a huge dome of 8-10 inch ice builds over our culvert, but the water keeps flowing underneath.   Nevertheless, we all keep our fingers cross, because during couple of winters in the past, we have had times when our waterline froze and we had to scramble for a couple of months to get water for our house.

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Sunday 3 November 2019

Moody Clouds and Mountains

    Not much to say, just that our damp weather continues, and when they are not totally obscured, the clouds are still at play with the mountains.

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Saturday 2 November 2019

Under Ice

    Not much to talk about today, but here is an image of some of the aquatic plants in my pond, now under the ice.
    We are presently under one of those ugly weather systems, where the temperature is hanging close to freezing, the skies are gray, and it can’t quite make up it’s mind whether to rain or snow, so it is doing a bit of both.

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Friday 1 November 2019

The Mystery of the Oak Leaf

    The other evening as we were walking Lexi around Koeneman Park, I happened to glance down at the lawn and couldn’t believe what I saw.  It was a leaf from an Oak tree.  While that might not be an unusual sight in the Midwestern US, it was certainly is totally unexpected in the Interior of British Columbia.  The only Oaks I have ever heard about living in BC are the rare Garry Oaks that live in a very small ecosystem on Vancouver Island.
    I have absolutely no idea how this leaf got here.   Around Koeneman Park the only deciduous trees that can be seen are Birch, Aspen, Cottonwood, and Willows, certainly no Oaks.  
    I can only guess that maybe it somehow came from a tourist who stopped at the park, but still that even seems unlikely, considering the distances from any Oak trees.  
    Tis a mystery.

Note: maybe it's not that much of a mystery, a friend who is a professional forester told me that she was aware of a couple of Oak trees that people had planted in McBride.

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