Saturday 31 July 2021


    Here are a couple more photos that I took at Horseshoe Lake, while killing time waiting for my wife to bring the fob so I could start the car.  The walkway out to the gazebo goes through a marshy area at one of Horseshoe Lake.  Looking over the railing, this is what I saw.  The water was somewhat stagnant and had a sheen on it that really picked up the blue of the sky, making a nice background to the marsh plants.

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Friday 30 July 2021

Remnants of the Flooding

    The other day while Kona and I were stuck at Horseshoe Lake waiting for my wife to come with the fob to start the car, I took advantage of the time by looking for photo-worthy subjects.  I noticed on the railing along the walkway to the gazebo that there as a lot of debris hanging from the chainlink fencing.  I guess all of that plant matter was floating on the flood waters and got hung up on the fencing when the water level got back to normal.

    I still find it surprising, just how high the water rose.  In our local paper there was a photo of a kayak paddling up this walkway to the gazebo.  

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Thursday 29 July 2021

Look at What We Saw at the Air Field

    I have mentioned several times in this blog about how we often take Kona on walks up and down the runway at the air field.  It is an excellent place to walk the dog because it is open so you can see all around you, and can spot wildlife or something else that might cause Kona to take off, it is paved so the walking is easy for us, Kona loves to sniff out the weeds and bushes that parallel the tarmac, and there are rarely any planes.

    The other day when we were there, halfway down the tarmac, I noticed that one of the lights that run along the sides of the runway was on.  The lights are radio controlled and come on when a plane is in the area.  We listened and scanned the skies but saw or heard nothing, so we continued our walk.  About 10 minutes later we did hear and see a plane in the distance, so we leashed Kona and headed over to walk along the verge of the tarmac.  

    We watched as the plane flew past on the south, then made a wide arc.  We saw that it had pontoons so we weren’t sure if it was going to land in the Fraser River or the air field.  Then, as it tightened its arc, we saw that it was going the land at the air field.  We were well off the tarmac and watched it come in.  We were surprised at how little runway it needed.  By the time it had landed it was still pretty far away.  

    We could see the pilot get out and wander around in the staging area.  When we got close, we greeted him and he immediately asked us if the air field had any fuel.  He told us he had flown from Prince George and they had no fuel, so he was anxious to get some so he could continue his flight. 

    I told him there was fuel available and showed him the phone number he needed to call to get someone over to get him some fuel.  He called and was talking to Kelly, so we figured he was in good hand and so we left.  Wow, an airplane at the air field.

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Wednesday 28 July 2021

Stranded at Horseshoe Lake


    Wednesday is usually the day we go to town early for grocery shopping, and that is what we did today.  I just dropped off my wife at the grocery store, then drove on over to Horseshoe Lake to walk Kona.  It was a beautiful morning for a walk, skies clear and the temperature perfect.  I let Kona walk without a leash until we got close to the pull-off to the pasture, then I put the leash on Kona so she wouldn’t run over and bark at the horses.  Everything was going good.  

    When we got back to the car, Kona jumped into the back seat and I took my place in the driver’s seat. I reached out and pressed the “Start” button on the dashboard.  Nothing happened except a message popped up on the dash saying, “Access Key Not Detected.”  It was then that I realized that I didn’t have my starting fob, and I had been able to drive into town because my wife had hers on her.  Oops.  Once I had arrived at Horseshoe Lake and turned off the car, I was snookered.

    Luckily I did have my phone, so called my wife and told her that Kona and I were stranded.  She left the groceries at the store and had her own morning walk, hiking over to Horseshoe Lake to rescue us.  Having a keyless vehicle isn’t always a convenience.


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Tuesday 27 July 2021

Air Quality Map

    I have been complaining about the local air quality caused by all of the smoke drifting in from BC’s 250 active forest fires.  Living in such an isolated little village, we never hear on the news how bad our local air is with all of the smoke, so I was happy when friends told us about the Purple Air Map that can be found on the internet:

    When people buy the small air monitors from Purple Air ($250), the air quality they record at their location every 10 minutes, is automatically sent via the internet to the Purple Air Map, so anyone with internet can see the readings.  Luckily, the McBride Library has one of these monitors and so we can see what our air quality is.  It is a wonderful free resource. 

    Yesterday when I checked the air quality in McBride.  It as a surprisingly low, 49.  See map below.  That is a lot better than a lot of big cities, even with the current smoke we are getting.  Below the map is a photo I took of the hazy mountains with the smoke when I got the 49 reading.

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Monday 26 July 2021

Splendor in the Grass

    Yesterday I watched the movie Splendor in the Grass, a very memorable film I first saw in 1961.  At the time I was still a kid, thirteen years old, immature and not very worldly.  We lived in a rural setting in very conservative Indiana and didn’t get to go to many movies, so were always eager for an opportunity to see one.  Sometimes my parents would take us to a movie, sometimes my uncle, who loved those classic big Westerns would invite us kids along when he went, and there were a few times when my grandparents would take us to a movie theater.

    My grandmother was an extremely religious person, who drove all of us kids crazy with her moralizing and pushing religious teaching on us.  I always felt sort of sorry for my grandfather, who had to struggle to get a television, and when grandma finally allowed it, she would not allow it to be watched on Sundays. 

    One evening my grandparents invited my sister and I go to the movies.  We didn’t really know anything about what we were going to see, but we were anxious to go.  It turned out that the movie we were taken to was Splendor in the Grass.

     Splendor in the Grass was about two teens; Bud (Warren Beatty) and “Deanie” (Natalie Wood).  They fall passionately in love with each other and struggle terribly to resist their raging hormones to obey the wishes of their parents.  They succeed in fighting off their extremely strong desires, leading Deanie to attempt suicide, then end up institutionalized for 2 and a half years after an emotional breakdown.

    Bud submits, goes of to Yale, following his domineering father’s wishes, only to flunk out because of his lack of motivation.   Years later they meet, still in love with each other, but their futures have changed, Bud now married with a young son, and Beanie about to be married.  They both admit that they “don’t think about happiness any more.”

    It was an uncomfortable night for my sister and I and very uncomfortable for my grandparents, when they began to see what was happening on the big screen.  It was full of carousing, and sexual suggestion. 

    Surprisingly my grandparents, sister and I, stayed through the whole movie.   Afterwards, on the way home, I could tell, that my grandmother had difficulty justifying the movie choice, and she told us something like, “Well, I guess you can see what can happen if you aren’t careful with your behavior.” and left it at that.  

   Clearly, this was not a film aimed at a naive 13 year old, so it has always puzzled me why my sister and I were taken to see it. I am sure it was some kind of mistake, but I don’t know what caused it.  “Splendor in the grass” is a phrase taken from a Wordsworth poem, maybe my grandmother thought the film would be more literary and poetic.

    I did enjoy re-watching the film again and I appreciated it more, now as an adult, and not as an embarrassed kid.

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Sunday 25 July 2021

Horseshoe Lake Fog

     I have been doing our early morning walks with Kona at Horseshoe Lake instead of Koeneman Park because there are no mosquitoes at Horseshoe Lake.  This morning there was a heavy fog blanketing the Fraser River, but only a slight fog at Horseshoe Lake.   The fog gave a nice quietness to the scene.

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Saturday 24 July 2021


    I hate to see people using biocides (herbicides, pesticides, poisons), but they continue to do so even though there is plenty of evidence out there they they kill a lot more living things than what is targeted, including people.

    We liked to walk Kona at the airfield.  It is rare that any planes land or take off, so it is a good place to walk the dog.  A couple of months ago when we went to the airfield to walk, they were about to spray a herbicide along a 8 ft (2.5m.) strip on both sides of the tarmac.  I assume the reasoning behind doing this was that it would lessen the amount of mowing they have to do out there.  

    We avoided walking at the airstrip for a long while, until we felt it was safe for the dog again.  When we returned, we observed that indeed, the grass on both sides of the runway had been killed, but I found it interesting that not all the plants there had died.  The photo shows a healthy Canada Thistle (an invasive plant) and some dandelions survived, note all of the grass is dead.  If they don’t mow, the thistle and dandelions will be able to spread their seeds around, and without competition from the grass, (now dead), they will insure their progeny new homes along the runway.

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Friday 23 July 2021

Clearing Skies

     Even though forest fires continue to incinerate huge sections of BC, the winds must have changed and so at least for now, the skies of the Robson Valley are free of smoke.   There is no guarantee this will last but for now, we can literally, breathe easier.

    I liked the way the sun blasted through onto these peaks while the mountains in the foreground remained in the shadows.

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Thursday 22 July 2021

What's Wrong With This Picture?

    It’s the hand.  Look at it, it doesn’t have a glove on. 

    During our mosquito infestation, if I was just going to do something quick outside, I would forgo the netted hat, gloves, and windbreaker and just rush outside, quickly do what I had to do, then rush in before I was totally devoured by the bugs.  That is what I was planning to do yesterday when I went out to get some spearmint for our iced tea.

    I walked past the raspberry patch, (a hotspot for mosquitoes) to get to the mint, then after I picked the mint I walked past the raspberries again, then I realized that I hadn’t been the victim of a mosquito attack.  There was a nice brisk breeze blowing and no doubt that helped keep the bugs away, but I couldn’t help to also hope that maybe the mosquito population was on the decline.

    I threw caution to the wind and decided to take advantage of the situation and pick some raspberries.  I did it without wearing a hat or gloves.  Don’t get me wrong, eventually some mosquitoes came out of hiding as I worked my way around the raspberry plants, but their number was tolerable, and I was able to pick raspberries with out the burden of netting and gloves.  It was like normal summer.

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Wednesday 21 July 2021

Orange Sky, Fraser River


    After our jam was over last night and I was loading the instruments into the car, I noticed that the Sun was again a Day-Glo orange color from all of the forest fire smoke (something I can’t really replicate on a photograph).  I decided to pass on taking a photo from where I was parked in front of the train station because of all of the electric lines and clutter, but as I drove home, I had to stop several times to take some pictures as I drove along the Fraser River.  Here are a couple.

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Tuesday 20 July 2021

Pea-Pickin' Dog

    I was out in the garden yesterday, swatting mosquitoes and putting down mulch and when I had finished, I called out to Kona who was also in the garden.  Usually she comes right away, but I got no response, so I called her again.  Again I got nothing, so I went to look for her.

    I found her in between the rows of peas, picking pea pods off of the vines and eating them.  What a dog.

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Monday 19 July 2021

Mountain Showers

    Thankfully we are now getting some rain and showers to quench our parched landscape and lessen the forest fire danger.  I took this photo the other day at Horseshoe Lake Road.  I liked the moist feel of the photo.

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Sunday 18 July 2021

Smoke Sun

    In 1883 the Krakatoa Volcano erupted violently, spewing massive amounts of high into the atmosphere.  The year following the eruptions locations across the world experienced brilliant orange sunsets caused by all of the Krakatoa ash in atmosphere.  There were a lot of paintings done of those extraordinary sunsets that you can see by doing a search online. 

    I thought of that yesterday evening at 9:00 when I saw the orange low sun as we drove home from visiting friends.  It is not as dramatic as the Krakatoa sunsets because ours is just made by the ash from all of the forest fires burning in BC, but I guess the principle is the same, only to a lessor extent.

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Saturday 17 July 2021

Splosh, Splosh, Splosh

    The other day we took advantage of Horseshoe Lake Road, now that it is no longer under water, to walk Kona.   As we started on our walk we noticed that the horses were back in the pasture after being removed when it began to be flooded.  It seemed that everything was back to normal, although we could see there were still some big flooded areas in the pasture.

    As we walked, we kept hearing splashing sounds coming from the pasture.

    “A couple of horses must be walking around in the huge puddles,” I thought, but when I saw them they were grazing in the grass.  Then I realized that there was still eight or ten inches (20-25 cm) of water still in the pasture, we just couldn’t see it through the grass.  It was like the horses were standing in rice field and every time they moved we could see the water splash up.  

    I am wondering if all this standing water is going to contribute to the mosquito problem.  So far the townsite of McBride isn’t suffering much compared to how we are at our house.  I sure hope they will be spared our misery.

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Friday 16 July 2021

Mosquito History Repeats Itself

    They say that history repeats itself.  A newer version says that history doesn’t repeat itself, so much as rhyme.   Despite the newer version, history does sometimes repeat itself.  See the photo above, that was taken in 2014.  The exact same thing happened yesterday, when I had to deck out in mosquito protective clothing to pick my peas.  History not only rhymes, it does also, sometimes repeat itself.

    My old university friend Gary McCullough, who last year, inspired by all the misery that mosquitoes had caused in the Robson Valley, wrote a piece about mosquitoes that I used in my blog.  This year he has once again, inspired by our mosquito invasion repeating itself, written an essay about mosquitoes through history.  Here is Gary’s essay:

One Way The Citizens of Robson Valley

Become Part Of History


    Last year in July -- when the mosquitoes are engaged in annual warfare with the residents of Robson Valley -- I submitted my description of the ancient Italian city of Paestum that has some of the best preserved Grecian ruins anywhere.  When the Greeks built the city, they created bogs in an effort to channel water, and that attracted mosquitoes.  The Greeks abandoned the area due to the mosquito infestation; the Romans (who loved Greek culture) moved in and took over; they couldn't stand it either; and they left.  Thus, the temples are well-preserved since humanity avoided them for centuries.


    Never forget, in all that follows, mosquitoes carry diseases.  The Paestum mosquitoes were more than just pests for the Greeks and Romans: they were death.  However, at that time, people didn't know that mosquitoes could be deadly.  They blamed diseases like malaria on miasma or "bad air."

    The history of Paestum where mosquitoes played an important role is not a rarity.  Throughout the story of human life on Earth, mosquitoes have influenced history.

    Take, for example, the United States' Civil War.  When the war began and Union soldiers were starting to go into the woods and swamps of the South, they had less resistance to mosquito-borne diseases than the Confederate soldiers, and the Union ranks were lessened and weakened by malaria and other diseases.  However (and to prove that mosquitoes can be turn-coats as well as pests), later in the war, the Union had much greater access to quinine (the malaria treatment of the time), so the tables were turned.  Also and lest we forget, twice as many soldiers died from diseases like malaria in the Civil War than died from battlefield wounds.  For every soldier killed in battle, there were two who died of diseases.

    Did you ever wonder why the city state of ancient Athens would sometimes be easily victorious in one battle and be easily defeated in another battle?  Part of the reason was mosquito-carried diseases.  One of the factors in doing battle BC/BCE was how many men of fighting age were well enough to fight.  It was the same with the Romans.  A malaria plague in 5th century Italy is thought to have contributed to the fall of Rome.  Think of it: if you were intent on besieging and conquering Athens or Rome and if you were patient, you could wait for a summer infestation of mosquitoes to decimate the place.

    Much of the reason for the African slave trade in the United State was the result of the mosquito-borne diseases brought into the Americas.  In pre-Colombian times, there were very few domesticated animals, by far the greatest source of what would (and will) become diseases that effect humans.  Europeans came to the Americas; they brought animals and diseases with them, and -- through mosquitoes -- the diseases were contracted by the indigenous peoples who died 'en masse.'  The Europeans had enslaved many of the native people, and -- when enough had died that the diminished workforce effected production -- the natives of Africa became the source of slave labor.

    "But those times were long ago," you're thinking, "Nothing like that happened in modern times."  Right?  Wrong.  In WWII, the Germans re-flooded the Pontine Marshes to increase malarial mosquitoes to be used as weapons against the Allies.  In the Battle Of Anzio, the number of Allied soldiers who contracted malaria was far above the average.

    Lastly....  There are estimated to be 7.6 billion people in the world.  There are estimated to be 100 trillion (with a 'T') mosquitoes.  That's 7,600,000,000 vs 100,000,000,000,000 ... it's no contest.  And -- even more importantly -- there is even a lower ratio of humans to mosquitoes in McBride.  So, remember, McBridians, whenever you're bitten by one of those aerial pests -- and you know that you will be bitten -- you will become a part of history that goes back at least 2,500 years.

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(Sources include Charles Mann, Timothy Winegard, BBC Sounds, Mosquito Magnet, Smithsonian Magazine, Smithsonian Science News ... and Orville Jaebker, my professor of American History, in a post-grad' course -- the Civil War & Reconstruction -- at the University of Evansville.)


Thursday 15 July 2021

Smoke and Mosquitoes

    Supposedly mosquitoes don’t like smoke, but that doesn’t seem to be the case around here.  Smoke from distant forest fires blanket the Valley and around our house the mosquitoes are as thick and aggressive as I can remember.  It is hell being outside.  

    Yesterday we drove up to Prince George.   Mosquitoes had gotten into the car when we got in to make the drive and we were swatting them all the way up to PG.  Once there.  It was a different world; a world free of smoke and bugs.  The skies were blue and clear and you could do normal things like walk around unhindered outside with out being bothered by mosquitoes.

    I am usually happy to get back home after a trip to PG, but yesterday that was not the case.  When we returned, we were once again submerged into the caldron of smoke and mosquitoes.

    We didn’t really know how we were going to get our purchases from the car to the house without filling the house with mosquitoes.  We lit two mosquito coils and placed them beside the carport door to discourage the beasts.  It helped some, but when I opened the back hatch of the car the mozzies flooded into the car as I attempted to unload our supplies.

    This morning when I was going to drive into McBride, I rushed from the house to the car to avoid the mosquitoes, but the mosquitoes from yesterday were still inside the car waiting for me.    Doing anything outside is horrible.  I will have to go outside and pick peas when I get done writing this.  I am already dreading it.  I will wear a coat, gloves, and netted hat, but I am already relishing the thought of coming back into the house after I finish the job.

    What a miserable summer.

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Tuesday 13 July 2021

Summer Wear

    You might wonder why I am wearing my winter hat, coat, and gloves in July.  It’s not because of cold weather, today it is supposed to get up to 32°C (90°F), so I don’t really need them for warmth.  The reason is all of the damn mosquitoes.  Hoards of the devilish pests now saturate the air around our house and at Koeneman Park.  So far its been okay in McBride and I hope it remains so because tonight is our outdoor jam at the train station.

    We get three types of mosquitoes in the Robson Valley.  First out in the Spring are the big dozy ones.  They are slow, easy to kill, and don’t really present much of a problem.  They are followed by the middle-sized mosquitoes.  They are a bit faster and a bit more irritating.  The last type of mosquitoes are the worst.  They are small, numerous, very aggressive, and quick.  They find you immediately and often seem to hit you, instead of flying around you.  You can feel their bite more.  That is the type we are getting now and I can’t express the depth of my hate for them.

    The mosquitoes are tolerable as long as you are moving, but the second you stand still they are all over you.  I can’t seem to get this message across to Kona, who likes to stop and smell all the scents on pieces of grass, that we have to keep on the move.   It has been hell trying to water the garden in the evening.  It is frustrating being in the house all of the time and I end up thinking; I need to go outside and do things, but once I am out there, it doesn’t take me long to remember why I was staying in the house.  

    I sure hope this curse doesn’t last too long.

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Monday 12 July 2021

My Hostas Are Suffering

    My Hostas didn’t much like our extremely hot temperatures (40.4°C. 105°F) or the lack of rainfall that went with it.  Their leaves had begun to die along the edges before I noticed and watered them.  They concentrated what energy they had in putting out flowers.  Even with their desiccated leaves I think they are still beautiful.

You can see my paintings (many of which are of Hostas) by going to:


Sunday 11 July 2021

Our Bottomless Bottle of Stain Remover

    About 20 years ago some friends sold their house and moved back to Belgium.  When they did they gave us some of the things they didn’t want to take with them.  Among those items was a bottle of stain remover for clothes.  We, of course, don’t use it every time we do the laundry, but we drag it out every time we have something that is really dirty.  Still, its amazing how long we have been using this bottle, and we still have plenty of the aged cleaner left to use in the future.  It seems like there is no bottom to the bottle.

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Saturday 10 July 2021


     Seeing or hearing an ambulance is never a good sign, but in a small community like ours, seeing an ambulance is more personal, because we probably know the person inside.  In a big urban center where  hundreds of thousands of people live, an ambulances going by probably doesn’t mean much, but when you know most of the people who live in your area, it can be stressful.  We become concerned every time an ambulance goes by our house.

    This morning when we drove down the road, we saw the flashing lights of an ambulance parked in front of a house.  Immediately our minds began to race, wondering what had happened and who specifically was in trouble.   A bit later, sirens blaring, the ambulance drove past Koeneman Park as I was walking Kona.  We still don’t know situation, eventually we will learn from the grapevine, but we are hoping for the best for whoever was involved.  

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Friday 9 July 2021

Summer: Heat Wave, Flood, and now Smoke

    I used to look forward to Summer, but our recent Summers are making me wonder why.   So far this summer we have had to deal with an extraordinary, brutal, and record-smashing heat wave, then the river rose to a historical level, inundating low areas and our road.  Now smoke from the hundreds of forest fires burning across BC is filling up the Robson Valley, obscuring the mountains and impacting our breathing.   Suddenly, every summer has become an ordeal, instead of something to enjoy.  

    In 2018, distant fires gave us a Summer of Smoke, which was repeated in 1019.  Last year we got torrential rains which caused flash floods, mudslides, and an horrendous invasion of mosquitoes.  I am hoping that this year’s flooding will not cause a similar mosquito explosion.  We’ve already experienced enough grief for one summer.

    I apologize for the rant, but I needed to get it off of my chest.     

    Below is a photo of the evening sun, colored by the the thick haze of smoke.


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Thursday 8 July 2021

Yes, We Have No Potatoes

    Not a very interesting photo; just a flooded field, but this field is the one where, back in June, members of McBride Community Garden spent an evening planting potatoes they were planning sell to raise funds.  Well, that isn’t going to happen now with the potato plants under water.

    This is the second year in a row where we lost the potatoes we planted, due to flooding.  Last year it was the enormous amounts of rain that caused the flooding.  This year it was the intense heat, melting the snow on the mountain tops that caused it.  

    Seems like that definition of insanity:  When you keep doing the exact same thing and expect different results.  

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Wednesday 7 July 2021

Leaves After Flooding

    Well, the Fraser River has now settled down into its normal bed after spreading out into the bottom land of the Robson Valley.  The other day while walking Kona in Koeneman Park, I couldn’t help but notice the silt-covered Thimbleberry leaves that had been under water during the flooding.  They appeared ghost-like compared to the untouched and new leaves.  It was a striking image.

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Tuesday 6 July 2021

Clouds Building Over the Mountains

    I seem to have a cloud theme going on in the blog over the last couple of days.  During the day yesterday the clouds started building up over the mountain ranges that hold the Robson Valley.   Daytime heating causes the clouds to form over the mountains and that often results in rain.   Fortunately we did get a nice rain shower a few hours after I took these photos.  

    Getting the rain lessens the threat of forest fires, which was beginning to concern us, and it was also very welcome to the veggies in the garden, and to the poor gardener who had been having to water it every night.

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