Sunday 28 February 2021

Look Whoo's Back

    This morning I was again charmed by that cute little Saw-Whet Owl, who I had found sitting in my bird feeder two weeks ago.  I felt honored that it had once again returned to the feeder.   In the first photo that I took this morning, it looked half asleep, but it’s eyes opened wider as I moved within an arm’s length of it.  Pushing my luck, I tried to walk to the other side of the feeder, to get a different shot, but it figured I was blocking its escape route and flew off.  

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Saturday 27 February 2021

Morning Moon

     I end up taking Kona out for a “walk” every night (last night it was at 2:45).  I have to shake myself awake to put on my boots, my coat, my hat, and grab a flashlight so I can see where our narrow paths are in the deep snow.  Last night was a very clear night, and with the moon illuminating the snow, it was so bright out there that I didn’t even have to turn the flashlight on.

    This morning when I again took the dog out, the moon was still out and shining brightly, but it had moved over, close to setting behind the mountains.  I think today is actually the Full Moon, but I doubt that it will shine any brighter than it last night.

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Friday 26 February 2021

Sleepy McBride

    Here is a early morning photo I took of Main Street McBride on one of our 7:00 grocery shopping trips.  Not much hustle and bustle going on.

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Thursday 25 February 2021

False Flag Pussy Willows

    I always associate the appearance of Pussy Willows with Spring.  I took this photo the other day, but before you get all excited and put out the lawn chairs, I had better inform you that these same Pussy Willows came out in December, during the really mild spell we had.  

    These Pussy Willows grow along Horseshoe Lake Road, and I’ve noticed in years past they are always way too eager to show themselves with the slightest warmish weather, even during winter.


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Tuesday 23 February 2021

My Winter Exercise

    After yet another overnight snowfall, I was out getting my exercise shoveling my driveway.  I took the photo above, up by the road looking down my drive.  You can see that I shoveled one side of the driveway on my way up to the road, and will shovel the other side going back down toward the house.  

    Today’s shoveling was not as easy as it has been because there was a layer of slush under the 6 inches (15cm) thick snow which made each shovelful heavy, but I got it done.

    I really wouldn’t need to shovel the snow after every snowfall, because both of our vehicles have 4-wheel drive, so they could easily get up and down the driveway, but the problem is; you are never sure about tomorrow’s weather, or the next day’s,  or next week’s. and eventually the snow will get so thick you can no longer get up the driveway even with the 4-wheel drive, and by that time the snow will be almost impossible to shovel.

    Plus if you keep driving over the snow as it builds up, when Spring does arrive, your compact snow on the driveway will turn into a solid mass of ice that will cause trouble, so I shovel the snow while I can do it easily.  Below is a photo from the bottom of our driveway looking up.

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Monday 22 February 2021

Barefoot in the Snow

    Yesterday morning when I was out shoveling the driveway.  My wife took up the task of building a fire in the wood stove.   When I was finished with the job, I came to hang up the snow shovel in the carport. On the edge of the carport I came upon one of her footprints in the snow.  I guess she was so eager to get some wood for the stove that she decided not to put on her boots, opting for cold feet instead.

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Sunday 21 February 2021

Valley Hummingbirds Lose A Friend

    I was saddened a few days ago upon hearing that long time Dunster resident, Curtis Culp had died.  I had a lot of respect for Curtis, whose curiosity about hummingbirds motivated him to contribute to the knowledge of this amazing bird.  

    Curtis and his wife Bonnie moved to Dunster in 1972.  They became fascinated upon seeing a hummingbird buzz around their beautifully situated farm beside the Fraser River.  A few years later they bought themselves a hummingbird feeder and filled it with sugar water, which caused more and more hummers to buzz around their house.  

        Their curiosity caused Bonnie to write a letter to bird experts at Cornell University, and they received a nice letter back informing them that what little was known about the hummers came from an outdated study in 1932.  Somewhere down the line, Curtis found out about the bird banding that was being done by citizen scientists, causing him to inquire further.  He was taught how to catch and band hummingbirds and immediately, began banding the tiny critters himself.

    The most common hummingbird in the Robson Valley is the Rufus Hummingbird that travel up here to mate and raise a family every summer.  It wasn’t known where they migrated to for the winter.  After several years of banding, Curtis was informed that one of his hummers was found in Texas, another in Alabama.  He submitted a hummingbird feather whose elements were analyzed which indicated the feather had trace elements found only in Southeastern Mexico.  So those tiny birds and their young families that we see in the Robson Valley every summer, fly over 4000 kms (2000 miles) every year to escape the winter.

    Just last summer Curtis authored a small booklet about Robson Valley hummingbirds and their habits.

    I have a lot of admiration for Curtis, who could have just stuck to his farming activities, but instead chose to contribute to the research that increased Humankind’s knowledge of those miraculous little birds.

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Saturday 20 February 2021

Getting the Ice Balls Out

    Lately on our walks, Kona has to take a break from her mice hunting to tend to her paws.  Snow accumulates between the pads, then forms small ice balls that become painful as she continues walking.  She then has to lay down in the snow and chew and pull at the ice balls to get rid of them.  Bodies need continued maintenance.

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Friday 19 February 2021

Snow Measurement

    Every winter I measure the snow depth in our field.  It is in no way scientific, since I can’t always find the same spot to measure and I don’t do it on the same date.

    I was surprised this year by how little snow was out there.  Normally I find that there is around 24 inches (60 cm) on the ground, and this year I figured there was probably about 18 inches (45 cm) but when I measured I was surprised to find that we had only 15 inches (38 cm). 

    Except for our week of brutal cold, we have experienced a relatively mild winter, and earlier on instead of snow, we got a lot of rain.  Of course our snow season is not over, so we could end up getting some big dumps of the white stuff in March.

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Thursday 18 February 2021

Available For Spring Occupancy

    This birdhouse looked pretty forlorn and lonely sitting there surrounded by the bleakness of winter.  No doubt it’s fortune will change once Spring arrives, beckoning the Mountain Bluebirds who will be seeking a place to raise their families.  


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Wednesday 17 February 2021

Early Walk

     Wednesdays are the day we buy our groceries.  During these Covid days we have been going to the grocery store early to avoid people, so we were there at 7:00 this morning.  After we had gotten the groceries and since we were in town, we decided to do an early morning walk on Horseshoe Lake Road.  There was a bit of color peeking out behind the scattered clouds and I took this photo.

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Tuesday 16 February 2021

The Sojourner by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

The Sojourner by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

        This novel follows the life of Ase Linden an American farmer, from the mid-1800’s to about 1935.  The story opens with Ase in his late teens, Ben his older brother, and Amelia his mother, as they return to their farmhouse after burying his father.   The father had been a brutal and abusive man and no one in the family is sad about his death. 

         Ben, the older brother is a spirited soul who everyone loves, particularly his mother.  Ase, on the other hand, is awkward, has a hard time communicating his feelings, and is disliked by Amelia, his mother.  With the death of the father, Ben sees his chance to escape his overbearing mother and the farm, and he confides his plan with Ase, then takes off.  Before leaving he tells Ase to marry Nellie the neighbor girl, who Ben had been courting. 

         Upon Ben’s departure, Ase is left to run the farm.   His mother is spiteful and verbally abusive toward Ase, blaming him for Ben’s departure.    Ase does work up the nerve to ask Nellie to marry him, and surprisingly she does. Amelia tells Ase that Nellie must be doing it because Ben made her pregnant, but that turns out not to be the case. 

         Ase really has very few friends.   The friends he has are all outliers in the community:  There is Mink an old Native American trapper, Tim an alcoholic fiddler, and the band of Gypsies, who periodically camp at the farm.  Amelia, hates them all, and Nellie tolerates them, but they bring wisdom and joy to Ase’s hard life. 

       Ase works, dawn to dusk, and makes the farm a success.  Nellie is a hardworking and very productive wife, dealing with all of the products the farm produces.   Amelia the mother, does next to nothing, but always expects a lot and demands that a third of the farm is hers and a third belongs to Ben’s, even though he has disappeared and doesn’t even write, and the final third is Ase’s who is doing all of the work. 

        Through the years, children come, but they, like Amelia the mother, are disrespectful and unloving to Ase, and interested only in money.  As she ages, Amelia becomes more bitter and disjointed from reality, blaming Ase of keeping Ben from sending letters, and she keeps farm ownership and two-thirds of the profits that rightfully should belong to Ase, who could use it for his family.  

          I found The Sojourner to be a really intriguing taste of Americana.  It gives the reader an accurate sense of all of the hard work involved in farming and processing the food that is needed for the winter.  The villainous characters, like the mother and children, were well developed, and generated a lot anger in the reader.   Ase’s character, with his overly righteousness and forgiveness personality, create in the reader, a lot of frustration when he doesn’t demand those things that are rightfully his. 

        It is a great read, published in 1952, that is now difficult to find, since it has long been out of print.  That is too bad, since it is such a well written and interesting novel that a lot of people would enjoy reading . You can tell from the cover of my copy that it is pretty old.  I got it from my mother who recommended it. 

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Monday 15 February 2021

Civilized Temperatures

    I can stop belly-aching about the cold for a while because those frigid temperatures have now moved out of the Robson Valley to brutalize people in the middle of North America.  (I see that Texas had a dump of snow.)  Yesterday afternoon our temperatures got up to a balmy -4C ( 29F), but even though our thermometers had risen, it still felt fairly cold because there was a wind, and wind sure makes a huge difference in how temperatures feel.

    I took these photos because they include the old Forestry Weather Station on Horseshoe Lake Road.  On our walks we usually don’t pay much attention to the wind gauges on the weather station because we can feel the wind force and direction on our faces.

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Sunday 14 February 2021

Look Whoo Was In The Bird Feeder

    This morning when I walked out to the bird feeder, I noticed a brown mass silhouetted inside.  I assumed it was a squirrel, but it seemed a bit early in the morning for them to be there.  As I got closer I noticed it was an owl, a Northern Saw-Whet owl (Aegolius acadicus).  They are small little owls 7 to 9 inches (15cm to 22cm) tall, that live in dense coniferous or mixed forests.  They are not rare, but they are rarely seen.

    I didn’t have my camera, so I went back inside the house to get it, hoping that it would still be there when I returned.  It was.  I took some photos, walked closer, took some more photos, walked even closer.  I wondered if it was sick, because it didn’t fly away.  I got closer yet, but it just sat there looking at me.  I got within arm length of the owl, but it just sat there.

    Finally I reached out my hand toward it, and it did fly off into the woods.  When I got back into the house I grabbed my bird books to read about Saw-Whet Owls, and it seems that one of their characteristics is that they allow people to get really close and don’t panic.  Sometimes they allow people to pick them up.

    Saw-Whets are strictly nocturnal and roost during the day.  I suspect that this one had decided to roost in my bird feeder, but the other birds wouldn’t have liked that.  Saw-Whets eat rodents and birds and I noticed in the photo below that it looks like there is a bit of blood on it’s bill.   Saw-Whets got their name from the sound they make, which sounds like someone sharpening a saw with a file.

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Saturday 13 February 2021


    Look at this line of icicles that are hanging from the eaves on the east side of our house.  These sparkling stalactites of crystalline water, change their appearance in both color and radiance with the movement of the Sun across the sky.  

    As a kid, it was always exciting to come upon icicles.  I remember that good icicles could be found on the back side of my grandfather’s greenhouse.  We would break them off and then suck on them.  The taste obviously did not pack the same punch as a Popsicle in the summer, but in my kid mind, it was an unexpected winter treat.

     I am now too jaded to break off one of these icicles and suck on it, but I do enjoy seeing them sparkling like linear chandelier glass crystals in the sunshine.

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Friday 12 February 2021

Embolden Deer

     As the harshness of winter continues, the neighborhood deer become a more common sight as they more often frequent the places where they might find food.  I took this photo through our kitchen window.  The deer was coming to try to score some food at the suspended wood where I put peanut butter for the birds.

    Beside the peanut butter log, the deer visit the bird’s sunflower seed feeder and our compost pile.  Even though I dump our food scraps on the compose pile every day, by the following day about all that is left are the egg shells.

    Kona, who has adopted the habit of watching out of the window, freaks out and breaks into a barking spasm upon seeing the deer in the yard, so we usually know when they are out there.

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Thursday 11 February 2021

Picture Window

     I don’t like to spend the whole day watching television, but did so, even though it was quite beautiful outside.  The daytime temperature was still cold (-22C, -7F), so that didn’t offer much encouragement, so instead I happened to turn on the television and immediately got sucked in to the riveting Democrat presentation on the Trump Impeachment Trial.  It was just too difficult to tear myself away.

    So I lounged on the couch in front of the TV most of the day.  While I was slouching on the couch, I happened to look out of our picture window from my low vantage point and noticed the distant snow-capped Cariboo Mountains in the back ground and the heavily snow-laden spruce bough in the foreground.  I did manage to force myself off of the couch, grab my camera, and here is the picture.

    This morning’s temperature was -35C (-31F).  Supposedly there is supposed to be a slow warming trend.  Let’s hope so.

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Wednesday 10 February 2021

Cold Weather Anxiety


    See the white dot in the screenshot above?  That is McBride.  See the ugly color that surrounds it?  That is the frigid Arctic air that has now engulfed us.  This morning our temperature was -34C (-29F), way too cold for my liking.

    Whenever we get one of the Arctic blasts, my anxiety level really increases and I can’t help but feel very uneasy.  I get an underlying feeling that there are going to be problems.  The decades of living in the Interior of British Columbia have taught me that when it gets this cold, things usually go wrong:  the water might freeze up, the car might refuse to start;  something bad will happen.

    True to those feelings, something has gone bad.  It is my car.

    On the dashboard is a little image of a car that comes on to show that one of the doors isn’t totally closed.  That light came on the other day.  I opened and re-shut all of the doors and they all seemed shut, but the light remained on.  Then yesterday, in addition to that door warning light, the lights on the outside mirrors that illuminate to light the ground when you open the doors, went on and remained on as we drove.  They wouldn’t shut off, even when I turned the car off.

    I realized that if they remained on all through the night, by the morning I would have a dead battery, so to prevent that, now every time we are done using the car, I have to disconnect the battery, then when I want to drive the car, I have to reconnect it.  It is a hassle and when it is this cold outside, it becomes a real pain to have to mess around with it.

    The weather bureau forecast shows that tonight and tomorrow will be our coldest days, then it will slowly warm.  I hope so.

    During a cold spell, it always makes me feel not quite so bad, to know that in other places (usually way up North or in the Canadian Prairies) things are worse.  I am hoping that this blog will have the same comforting effect to all of those people living where temperatures are not quite as cold as what we are having.

    (Screenshot from the Living Earth app)


Tuesday 9 February 2021

Just Pee, Kona

     I sometimes wish I could somehow turn off Kona’a nose.  Her nose just causes her too many distractions.

    When I take her outside so she can do her business, she almost immediately starts picking up a scent of some wild animal, then she strains on the leash (we’ve learned not to trust her off-leash), pulling toward the smell.  Her prey instinct takes complete control of her brain, and she totally forgets the real reason she is out there.

    This habit is especially bad at night in very cold weather.  Because she has had some “accidents” in the house at night, I have to sleep lightly, in case she suddenly needs to perform a bodily function.  If she gets out of her bed and “shakes” herself, I hear the jingle of her dog collar and I also get out of bed so I can take her outside in order that the “accident” occurs outside and not inside the house. 

    Even on these middle of the night excursions, when she has awaken because she has to “go”, Kona gets outside and smells a deer or coyote, and totally forgets about peeing.  It is extremely maddening, to stand out there freezing, praying that she will regain the sense of urgency that she had when she woke me up.

    It happened last night:   She woke me at 3:00 AM.  I got dressed and took her out.  It was -27C (-16F). I walked her down the path praying that my flashlight wouldn’t stop and leave me in the total darkness.  The snow crunched with every step I took, like it does when it gets really cold.  

    We walked out into the black pasture.  Instead of getting right down to business, Kona smelled something and led me off in that direction. After a very short while, she was limping and sat down because of her cold legs.  Our middle of the night mission had failed.  I had to pick her up and carry her back to the house.

    Once back inside the bedroom, she re-established her previous sleeping position, and went back to sleep.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to quickly go back to sleep, so read a chapter of “Little Dorritt” hoping that would eventually bring back my slumber.  I did eventually  re-enter Dreamland until 6:00 when Kona once again got up and shook her collar. 

    I rose from my bed, dressed, and took her out into the frigid darkness.  Fortunately, (as the photo shows) this time she actually came through for me.

    While I love Kona dearly, she does often cause me an awful lot of frustration. I wish I could turn off that nose of hers.

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Monday 8 February 2021

Trying To Keep Warm

    I don’t think that Kona likes this cold weather any more than we do.  It was -27C (-16F) again this morning and when I took her outside for her walk, it didn’t take long for her to start holding a leg up and then sitting down because her legs were cold.  She had expended what warmth she had sniffing for animals, and was then too cold to do what we took her out there to do.  I ended up having to carry her back to the house. 

    In the afternoon yesterday it did warm up to -16C (+3F) and so we took her to Horseshoe Lake Road for a longer walk.  We wrapped a long scarf around her torso, then put her blue coat over it.  She made the walk without any obvious problems.  I sure hope our afternoons continue to be a bit more tolerable, because Kona has an abundance of energy and really needs some outdoor time.

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Sunday 7 February 2021

Whoa, They Said -18C

     The Polar Vortex is moving our way.  The weather forecast showed it coming.  It was to get gradually colder with the real cold temperatures next week.  I was thinking that we would slowly acclimatize to the cold, since it has been a very mild winter so far.  Last night it was supposed to get down to -18C (0F), which was already quite a drop, but when we woke up this morning I was shocked to see it was -27C ( -17F).  

    I guess we will have to acclimatize a bit faster.

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Saturday 6 February 2021

Path Time

     Every winter, as the snow begins to pile up, we eventually reach the point where we can no longer just walk where ever we want; you have to take a path.

    The photo above shows the “Dog Path” which is out in our pasture.  It is where we take the Kona to do her business.  She of course is pretty particular about finding exactly the right location, and will not foul the path, but once she finds a suitable place shel veers off into the deep snow where she does what she has to do with the snow up to her belly.

    We have established three paths through the yard.  One to the compost pile, another to the barn, and this third one out in the pasture.  If we need to go to some other location, I will have to get the snowshoes out and make a new path.

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Friday 5 February 2021

It Keeps Coming

     The snow keeps coming down. It is getting to be a daily part of my morning schedule to shovel the driveway.    Luckily since it got a bit colder, the snow is the white downy type rather than the heavy wet stuff, so shoveling the stuff is a whole lot easier.  

    I thought that rather than show you yet another snow photo, I would dig out one of my old cartoons.

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Thursday 4 February 2021

Snowy Spruce Spires

    The snow keeps falling, I suspect later this afternoon I will again have to manually clear the driveway since my snowblower is in the repair shop.  

    I do like the way these towering spruce trees look with the boughs topped with snow.  Usually snow covered trees are quickly stripped of their snow by wind, but presently the snow is staying with more snow added.

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Wednesday 3 February 2021

House of the Rising Sun

     Am......C..... D.....F.....    Am......E......Am.....E

    Back in 1964 when I first heard a guitar play that chord progression arpeggio  (each string of a chord played in succession instead of all the strings played at the same time), I was instantly hooked, and I still am.

    It is the opening riff of The Animal’s hit song “The House of the Rising Sun”.   I had heard different versions of the song before, Joan Baez had it on her first album in 1960 and  in 1961 Bob Dylan stole a version from Dave Von Ronk and put it on his first album before Von Ronk could.   The song has recently been on the news because Hilton Valentine (what a name) the guitarist for The Animals, who came up with the riff, died this week.

    He had used the chords from Bob Dylan’s version of the song, but played the guitar chords, one string at a time instead of all at once, and what an iconic chord progression it became.  The song became the first “British Invasion” hit in North America that was not done by The Beatles.

    The song itself evolved from an old folk ballad with various versions.  Old miners sung the song in 1905 and in 1925 the words:

    “There is a house in New Orleans, its called the Rising Sun

    It’s been the ruin of many poor girl

    Great God, and I for one”

 were printed in a magazine.

    The folk song has been sung by a myriad of artists:  Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Pete Seeger, Andy Griffith (Andy Griffith?), and Dolly Parton to name a few.  Last summer Joni Mitchell released her previously unknown version, that was recorded in 1963 at a radio station and had laid undiscovered in a basement until now.  It is on the Joni Mitchell archives album. 

    With all these different takes of the song, none of them have the magic for me that The Animal Version has.  One of my favorite genre of music has always been Folk Rock, and many consider the 1964 Animal version of Rising Sun the first “Folk Rock” hit because it was an old folk song recorded with electric guitar.  

    It is reported that when Bob Dylan first heard the Animal version of the song on the radio, he stopped his car to listen, then got out and banged on the hood of the car.  The song influenced folk singer Dylan to go “electric” which took his career in a completely different direction.

    I had been playing “Rising Sun” almost daily for about a month, before I heard of Hilton Valentine’s death.    I was playing it because I loved it, and also because I now have trouble playing Am and F on the guitar and Rising Sun gives me a pleasurable way to practice the chords.

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Tuesday 2 February 2021

So Of Course, Now We Get a Big Dump of Snow

    Yesterday I showed you photos of all of the snow covered trees.  There was about 4 inches (10 cm) that had fallen.  I spent a chunk of my morning yesterday snowblowing the driveway.  When I had completed the task and was driving the snowblower back to the carport, suddenly something broke and its wheels stopped moving.   This was really bad news indeed.

    Luckily, I did find a local shop that said they would take a look at it, which greatly relieved me.  I had to remove the canopy off of my pickup in order to get the machine to the repair shop, but I managed to do that and delivered it.  It will be a week before they have a chance to look at it.

    So of course now that I am without a snowblower, overnight we got a big dump of snow somewhere between 9-14 inches (23-34 cm), so I am left with clearing the driveway manually.  That’s a lot of snow to move by hand, our driveway is 245 ft (73 m) long, plus I have to clear out a turnaround spot at the bottom and a wide space up by the road.

    I am half way done at present and hope to finish the job this afternoon.  I sure hope we won’t be getting more snow for a while, at least until I get my snowblower back.

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