Sunday, 17 October 2021

Soggy Sundays

    Every Sunday I sit down and write a letter to my 100 year old mother.  There isn’t always a lot to write  about because there isn’t a lot going on around here, so I often end up with a paragraph mentioning what our weather is doing somewhere in the letter.  Strangely, for weeks and weeks now it seems like every time I mention the weather, I have to report that it is either raining or showering.  Well that is not the case today, because today it is neither showering or raining--instead it is snowing.  (It did rain hard all night however, then slowly turned into snow around 6:30 AM.)

    I find it strange how often precipitation does seem to always occur on the same day of the week.  In the summer of 2020, when we began to have our music jam outside on the McBride Train Station porch, it seemed to rain or shower every Tuesday, the night of our Jam.  Fortunately, his summer on our outside Jam, it seemed to be sunny and warm every Tuesday, which was a welcome change.

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Friday, 15 October 2021

Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman


Deborah Feldman grew up in a closed Hasidic community in New York, and was basically raised by her Jewish Orthodox grandparents after her mother left the marriage.   Deborah’s father came from a wealthy Jewish family, but he had a very low IQ and developmental problems.   His family was under great traditional pressure to marry him off, because as the oldest, he had to marry before his younger siblings could.  

Her mother grew up in Great Britain, in a poor Jewish family and didn’t have any prospects for a “good” marriage until they were approached by Deborah’s father’s family.  They married and had Deborah, but after the marriage her mother felt trapped in a loveless marriage and resentment from her in-laws, who had been so kind before the wedding, She left the marriage and had to leave Deborah behind.

Deborah was never comfortable, or felt like she was a part of the strict rigid confines of the cloistered Hasidic community where she grew up.  There were strict rules about everything, especially for females.  Her curiosity made her a secret rebel who would sneak into public libraries to get and and read English novels, something forbidden by her sect.  She had to hide the library books in her room.  

       She bought an English version of the Talmud, something women were forbidden to read, and after reading how King David, was actually a hypocrite and murderer and not the hero honored by her Hasidic sect, she began to privately question all the indoctrination and dogma she had experienced throughout all of her young life.  She recognized that the whole religion was basically set up for men; a women’s role was designed just to serve men and manufacture babies.

Her disillusionment increased when she turned 17 and was forced into an arranged marriage.  She was only able to meet her intended husband for only 30 minutes beforehand and then had to keep her head down.  The marriage thrust her into all kind of bizarre customs and traditions.  There were rules about everything.  Women had to cut off all of their hair, then wear wigs.  During their menstrual cycle they had to avoid touching their husbands and had go to a religious bathhouse to bathe and be deemed “clean” when it ended.  It seemed that every aspect of her life was closely observed.  Husbands, like her husband who studied the Talmud and were considered scholars, had sex on Fridays.

Her marriage was a disaster beginning on their Honeymoon night.  Neither she or her husband really knew what to do and she seemed to have some kind of anatomical problem, which meant weeks of doctor consultations.  After months spent correcting the problem, which was caused by stress and extreme anxiety, her first real “consummation” of the marriage resulted in her getting pregnant, which meant more doctor appointments and a frustrated husband.

She quickly got fed up with her husbands’s attitude and lost any love she had started to develop for him, especially after he put off taking her to the hospital because of a  Jewish religious day, even though she was experiencing a medical emergency.  Upon finally getting to the hospital, she was immediately given drugs to prompt the birth because of the danger she was in.  

Deborah at this point a new mother, had had enough of her religion and her marriage.  She didn’t want to accept a woman’s role as a baby machine.  She secretly took some writing classes at Sarah Lawrence College, escaped with her infant son and divorced her husband.  It was a complete break from her previous life.  She had to abandon her family and the Hasidic community where she had spent her whole life. She dumped her long dresses and wigs, and began a new life, wearing jeans, sporting her own hair, listening to music, and at the age of 22 wrote this novel.

I, like most others who have read Unorthodox, found it to be a fascinating glimpse into the fundamentalist Jewish Cult where Deborah suffered under all kinds of ridiculous and strict rules.  I have great respect for people like her who have had courage enough to think independently, and are willing to sacrifice their whole past, for their principles.

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Thursday, 14 October 2021

Reflections on Still Water

    We had an unexpected beautiful day yesterday.  The the weather was mild, the sun was shining, and there was no wind.  When we walked the path around the pond, I was struck by the mirror like surface of the water.  It intensified the blue of the sky and there were still enough colored leaves to make some interesting photos.

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Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Slim Pickin's

    Our crab apple tree has small “apples,” about the size of grapes.  They are very hard and bitter so we don’t use them at all, but the birds sure do.  Already this year robins and grouse have already had their way with the crab apples and have eaten the bulk of them, but there are still a few scattered around on the ground.  

    That was good news for this Varied Thrush, a robin-looking bird, that wears fancier dress.  It has been out in the yard picking up the crab apples are left.  Although the Varied Thrush live around here during the summer, they seem content to spend their time deeper in the forests so I rarely see them except for in the Spring and Fall.

    I always thought their call resembled the ringing of a distant telephone, and when we first moved to McBride, I would often be working outside and hear the thrush and think it was the phone ringing in the house, so I would stop what I would I was working on and go in the house to answer the phone.  It took a while for me to figure out what was going on.

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Tuesday, 12 October 2021

A Memorable Thanksgiving

    Yesterday was the Canadian Thanksgiving, and we had a memorable one.  The day started out with 2 inches of snow on the ground, but by noon that had melted away and the clouds opened up. (I took this photo at the McBride airfield, where we walked Kona). 

    The big event of the day was a Thanksgiving gathering and feast with friends, something we hadn’t been able to do for over a year and a half, because of the Covid restrictions.  It was so nice to once again gather around a big table covered with food, and to be able to engage with friends as we ate the bounty they produced in their garden.  It was a wonderful return to the socializing we had been so long without. 

    The food was almost entirely locally produced, most of which, by the serious gardeners who sat with us around the table.  I was amazed by the size and quality of the tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and cabbages the were devoured.  The chicken was the size of a small turkey, and delicious.  The feast was topped off with a tasty almond tart (below) created my talented wife had made.  The leisurely meal was accompanied by the conversation of friends who had too long been apart.

    On our drive home we discovered an aurora in the sky, something else we had not experienced for a really long time (probably decades).  It was not the most spectacular one I have ever seen, it was faint and broad rather than bright and defined, but still it was nice to see again.  We saw a STEVE, a long linear, newly discovered, visual object that sometimes accompanies an aurora, it was something we have never seen before.  I tried to take some photos, but unfortunately, they were all miserable failures. 

    Seeing the aurora was a nice end to a really wonderful Thanksgiving.

                                 You can view my paintings at:

Monday, 11 October 2021

Overnight Snow

    They say a change is as good as a vacation, but last night we had a big change in how everything outside looked after a 2 inch (5 cm) snowfall, and it sure doesn’t feel like a vacation.  There are still so many things that need to be done outside before winter moves in.

    I took this photo of the front of our house this morning and I thought it showed an interesting contrast:  The Nasturtiums are still blooming in the window boxes, while the Honeysuckle bush is covered with snow.

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Sunday, 10 October 2021

White Stuff Falling From The Sky

    I’m not sure how well this is showing up on the photo, but we are getting some snow.  It really can’t decide if it wants to rain or snow, so it keeps switching back and forth.  I don’t think there is any danger in any of the snow sticking to the ground, but I am still going to consider this our first snowfall of the year.  

    In the photo you can see about half of the firewood I have stacked.  It should be more than enough to get us through winter, although I always get nervous if we get a severe cold spell and start going through the wood rapidly.  

    As I write this, the snow has now stopped and there is just a few raindrops falling.  It’s pretty changeable out there today.

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Saturday, 9 October 2021

Another Highway 16 Photo

    Here is another Autumn shot from the trip we took up to Prince George the other day.  I really like the dream-like quality of the soften the trees down in the foggy area.  I wish I would have taken more photos because the color and morning light was pretty spectacular, but I felt time pressure to get to Prince George because we had a dental appointment.

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Friday, 8 October 2021

Is That The Same Dog?

    We have had Kona in our life now for almost exactly a year.  We have sure enjoyed having her in the family, although with her boundless energy, she often runs us ragged.  I happened upon a photo (above) that was taken a few days after we had gotten her and it is difficult to comprehend that that skinny-looking dog is the same dog that we have today.  

    She was tightly shorn when we got her and we decided to let her hair grow out, which totally changed her appearance.  She is still the same dog inside; she still loves to be close, to be touched, and cuddled.  Which is all very endearing.  She has sure made a positive difference in the Covid-restricted life that we now lead.  She came into our lives at exactly the right time.


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Thursday, 7 October 2021

Extraordinary Autumn Scenes on the Way to Prince George

    We had to drive up to Prince George yesterday for dental appointments.  I wasn’t looking forward to the drive.  We had to start out in the early morning darkness and I was worried about encountering animals on the road and the weather (we did run into snow on the way back home).  I was totally surprised by the beauty we encountered on our trip up.  The skies ahead of us were dark and threatening, but the rising sun behind us started to highlight the yellow trees on the sides of Highway 16.  The effect was amazingly beautiful and luckily the photos turned out.  

    Here are two of my favorites.


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Tuesday, 5 October 2021

More Robson Valley Autumn

    It is not a very inspiring day; all cold, overcast, and wet.  This morning I took the car into town to get my snow tires put on, its that time of year.  Yesterday when we got up the temperature was 0° C (32°F), so things are changing.

    On a dull miserable day like today, I thought I would revisit some of the beautiful colored trees that we saw a few days ago.  The photo above shows Beaver Mountain sporting an obvious snow line.  The Aspen trees are a brilliant yellow even with the dull sky.  All those leaves are not long in the world, but they are sure enjoyable while they last.  This blast of color will have to see us through all of the grays and whites of winter.  

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Monday, 4 October 2021

Eliza Ann Olmstead Marchant Upright

    Back in the late 1990’s I became interested in my family’s genealogy.  There were beginning to be some genealogy sites on the internet and I began to delve into my ancestry.  One of the most remarkable things I discovered on my Marchant family line, resulted because of the Civil War. 

     Arlo Marchant, a blacksmith, living in Winnebago, Illinois married Eliza Ann Olmstead from Wilton Connecticut on Christmas Eve 1824 .  

    Together they had a remarkable 17 children, 13 boys, 4 girls (one of which died in infancy).  Arlo died in 1855 and the widowed Eliza remarried to Morris Upright in 1961.  

    Unfortunately as her boys matured the Civil War began.  Ten of the sons joined the Union Army and fought in the war.  One was killed in action, another was killed when a cannon accidentally went off, and a third son died while in service.  There was some confusion about the family name when they were discharged, some of the sons retained the name Marchant, while other’s ended up with the family name of Merchant.  After the war, a younger son joined the regular army.  

    Because one’s son was killed in action, she received $8 per month from the government.  She sought no recognition for the fact that she had a remarkable 10 sons that fought for the Union, but in 1879, when she was 74, her situation was called to the attention of Congress, because she asked that Norman, her son who was still in the army after 5 years of service, be discharged.   Congress voted to allow it.

    At that time and into the 1930’s, there had been a push to get some kind of national recognition for the only woman on record who had 11 sons in service for the United States, (her second husband was also a Civil War veteran), but no such thing was ever done.   She is buried in Rockford, Iowa.

    Below is an old newspaper article about Eliza.

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Sunday, 3 October 2021

How The World Looks Today

    Sorry for all of the Autumn shots, but I crave color and have to grab it while I can.  We’ve had days of overcast skies, strong winds, showers and rain.  There are still yellow leaves on the Cottonwood, Aspen, and Birch, but not as many as a few days ago.  It looked like we might get some frost this week, but the weather forecasters have now backed off on that.  Anyway, this is how my world looks today from our balcony.

You can view the "Trivia of the Month", "Cartoon of the Week" and my paintings at:

Saturday, 2 October 2021

A Black Bear

    On our drive down the Old Tete Jaune Road, as we got close to the settled area close to Dunster we  spotted this Black Bear grazing on the grass in the field.  I had to stand a while, waiting for it to take it’s head out of the grass before I could take this photo.

    I really haven’t seen many bears this year, although I think there have been some prowling around the house sometimes at night.  Last week I heard the sad news that one had been struck by a vehicle and killed on the road just beyond our house.  

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Friday, 1 October 2021

Robson Valley Backroads: The Old Tete Jaune Road

    Coming back from Tuesday’s trip to Valemount, instead of taking Hwy. 16 we drove the Old Tete Jaune Road to Dunster.  It offered some spectacular scenery of the Valley at one point and the Autumn colors made things look even more stellar.  These two shots were taken from a high lookout spot on the road.  Unfortunately the thrill of the overlook was later dampened by a brutal, muddy, logging cutblock beside the road.  I was too shocked to even take any photographs of it; I just wanted to get out of there.

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