Sunday, 3 July 2022

Living With Distance

    There is a reason why I often refer to McBride as “an isolated village”, it is because it is.   There is only one highway that connects McBride to the rest of the world.  As you can see by the sign, if you are traveling west, you have to travel 202 km (125 miles) before you come to another filling station.  

    Going east on Hwy. 16, you only have to travel 166 km (100 miles) to get to Jasper, Alberta for more gas, unless you turn off at Hwy. 5 and drive south to Valemount, BC which is only 84 km (54 miles) away.          

    There are no service stations (and little other signs of settlements) until you get to either Prince George, Jasper, or Valemount.  If you have an electric vehicle, an are traveling to Prince George, you are able to plug in and recharge at the Slim Creek Rest area, which is only 85 km (54 miles) from McBride.  On the drive to Prince George you don’t even see a house along the way until you get there.

    Those of us who live here are used to living with the long distances between places, but visitors get the real feeling of being in the “middle of nowhere”.

Take a look at my paintings:




Saturday, 2 July 2022

The Rest of the Story

    When something happens in a small town that you don’t quite understand, eventually you will hear the rest of the story.  I thought of that yesterday when I finally heard what was going on with Dr. Cowburn’s old Tiger Moth bi-plane that was once again flying around in the Robson Valley.

    When Dr Cowburn owned the plane, I used to love watching the antique yellow aircraft sputtering across the blue sky of the Robson Valley.  The vintage plane was the joy of the Valley’s only doctor and he would take it out periodically to fly it around.  Before he died, he sold it to a person who grew up in Crescent Spur, a nearby hamlet.  That new owner moved to Prince George, so we didn’t see the Tiger Moth again except once when the new owner had it doing cartwheels in the sky above McBride during one year’s Pioneer Day parades.

    Over this past weekend, the Tiger Moth suddenly was all over the skies of the Robson Valley.  It buzzed low over our house a couple of times, and each time I raced out with my camera in an attempt to get a photo.  I didn’t really know why the plane was around again.

    Yesterday when I was at the grocery, Pat the cashier, knower of all things local, told us that the plane’s owner was in town because he was getting married.

     “Okay, now I know,” I thought, but there was more information to come later in the day.  

    At meal time, when I went to pick up some food at the Chinese restaurant, I ran into Charlie Leake, an aviator who used to live in McBride.  From him I got more information about the Tiger Moth’s  return to the Valley.

    He was in town for the wedding and the ceremony was going to take place at one of the hangers at the McBride airfield.  When I mentioned how I kept seeing the plane zipping around, flying low, and seemingly tearing around all over the place, Charlie told me that the pilot was practicing all kind of flying maneuvers because he was working toward getting a license so he he perform tricks at air shows.  

    After hearing Charlie, I was satisfied that I knew “the rest of the story” about the why the bi-plane was here again, and why it was buzzing around so much.  Little by little I had been given the explanation.

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Friday, 1 July 2022

Lupine Blooms For Canada Day

    Today is Canada Day.  I have always been afraid of nationalism, but I have a profound appreciation of Canada, my adopted homeland.  While I have always been happy with our difficult decision to immigrate to Canada, I am especially happy now, whenever I see what is happening in so many countries in the world.  With the help of all the craziness and propaganda on social media they are able to manipulate enough public opinion to get elected, then once in power, they proceed to eliminate the free press and stack the courts to get rid of humanitarian and liberal ideals and practices.

    I am not blind to Canada’s faults, especially when it comes to the environment, Canada always talks the green talk, but then doesn’t carry through, but on the whole, I am very happy to call myself a Canadian.

    Happy Canada Day.

 Take a look at my paintings:

Thursday, 30 June 2022

Mountains Peaking Through

    It was pouring rain yesterday morning, but by the afternoon the thick clouds were starting to break up and beginning to give us some glimpses of the mountains.  Here are two photos I took as the mountains were just beginning to show themselves again.

You can view my paintings at:


Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Rain For a Thirsty Garden

    While we have been getting a lot of showers off and on, things have been fairly dry.  The showers didn’t really penetrate deeply into the soil of the garden.  The plants have been doing okay, but they really needed a good rain, and over night and continuing this morning, we have gotten one.  

    Of course despite the lack of rain, the garden was looking pretty tidy, mostly because the dryness prevented a lot of weeds from growing.  Now, I fear, the weeds will explode in growth, but hopefully so will my vegetables. 

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Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Backlit Nasturtium

    I am attracted to plants being backlit by the sun.  Yesterday afternoon when I looked out of the living room window I noticed that the only Nasturtium flower that is presently blooming in our window box was brilliant in color because it was being backlit by the afternoon sun.  I took the photo above and then noticed how the backlighting was really making the veins in the Nasturtium leaves stand out so I took the photo you see below.

Take a look at my painting of Nasturtiums entitled "Bucketful":  


Monday, 27 June 2022

Loving The Warm Sidewalk

     Yesterday evening when I was in the kitchen putting water in the sink to do some dishes, I glanced out of the window and saw our cat Lucifer, deep in sleep on our sidewalk.  All day long that sidewalk had been in the sun absorbing heat.  In the evening when it no longer was in the sun, it retained that heat, and our heat-seeking cat stretched out on it and fell asleep, happily re-absorbing that heat.

Take a look at my paintings:

Sunday, 26 June 2022

A Herd of Elk (Wapiti)

    Everyone calls these animals Elk, but more correctly they are “Wapiti.  The word “Elk” is a European word that refers to a Moose, but these large members of the deer family are more properly termed “Wapiti”.  Wapiti is a Shawnee word meaning “white rump”.   I will join the crowd and call them Elk.

    Elk are commonly seen in Banff and Jasper National Parks.  In the late 1800’s and the beginning of the 1900’s Elk in the Canadian Rockies were almost wiped out by hunters.  In 1917 they were re-established in Banff and Jasper Parks and have thrived.  While tourists love to see them, they often become pests in the Banff and Jasper townsites, sometimes injuring people who get too close to them.

    We didn’t see any Elk at all in the Robson Valley until maybe 30 years ago and they are now well established.  Too well established, the local farmers will tell you.  Local farmers had always been able to store some of their hay outside during the winter, until Elk herds suddenly appeared and started eagerly eating it. 

    This herd hangs out east of McBride.  We haven’t really seen it for a few years, but it was out grazing last night when we were coming home from visiting friends.

You can view my paintings at:


Saturday, 25 June 2022

Cold Morning

    It didn’t frost overnight, but it got close (2°C, 35°F).  I was surprised when I looked at my thermometer this morning.  On my morning walk with Kona, down by the pond, I took this photo of the Lupine, which are now in full bloom.  

    The cold temperatures had caused a moody fog over the pond. 


You can see my paintings at:

Friday, 24 June 2022

Bear Again

    Ten minutes ago I had just finished painting and I looked out the window and saw the neighborhood bear meandering across the pasture, down along the pond.  So far the bear hasn’t caused any problems for us, it just wanders through the property.  While seeing the bear is a treat, seeing it so often worries me because some of the neighbors aren’t quite as tolerant as I am and I am afraid it will get shot.  

    Kona is getting wary about walking down by the pond and I think it is because it smells the bear and doesn’t want to walk any further.

    Let’s all hope that the bear stays out of trouble.

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Thursday, 23 June 2022

Animal Adaptation

    Last week when I was in a grocery store up in Prince George, I mentioned to the cashier that I had seen 4 moose and a black bear on my drive from McBride.  That prompted her to tell me a story about what had happened to her father.

    A few years ago her father and a friend were hunting moose in a wild area between McBride and Prince George.  They managed to shoot a moose and went in to butcher it.  As they were doing it, suddenly a grizzly bear arrived on the scene and the hunters were forced to give up their kill and retreat.

    A few years ago while listening to CBC on the radio I learned that similar incidents to the story she told was something that was becoming more and more common.  It seems that grizzlies have learned to associate gunshots, with moose meat, and so if they hear gunshots, they will immediately follow the sound and get an easy meal once they have scared off the hunters.

    Animals quickly learn about taking advantage of food that is the result of human activities.  One summer when we drove to Edmonton and pulled into to a motel, I noticed that a bird immediately hopped up to the front of our car and began to eat the smashed insects that we had hit while making the trip.  

    Of course there can be a definite down-side to this animal-human interaction as it often leads to the death of animals by the humans.

You can view my paintings at:


Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Bear Memory

    I couldn’t really identify the bear I saw and wrote about in yesterday’s blog because I wasn’t able to see if it’s chest had a white patch, like the bear that had come through a couple of weeks ago.  Later when I was outside I noticed that my bird feeder had been pulled down.  I had stopped putting sunflower seeds in it months ago, so it was empty, but in previous years ago when it was full, a bear had pulled it down, so I figured that the most recent bear was the same one I had years ago.   Since the feeder had been empty for years, it must have been the bear’s memory that made it yank it down this year.

    Bears do seem to remember where they have previously found food.  I have had apple trees torn to bits even though I had picked all of the apples on the tree weeks earlier, to prevent bears from ripping it up.  I assumed the bear that came remembered the apples and was determined to find some, even though there were none.

    Even though we almost always lock the door of our shop, once when we forgot, a bear got in and opened and ate from a garbage can we had in there.  It must have remembered that incident and checked the shop door every time it passed through, because the exact same thing happened the following year.

    Below is a photo of my bird feeder, which the bear had managed to pull down from its normally elevated position.  


You can see my paintings at:

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Bear With Us

    Last year we didn’t see any bears in our yard, already this year we have seen two.  I assume it was the same bear, but yesterday when it passed through the yard I was unable to see the white marking on its chest to make sure.  

    It was the same set up as when I blogged on June 11th.  I was sitting in my office when suddenly Kona, who was occupying her time looking out of a window, erupted into barking.  This time the bear was already in our yard, but it heard Kona’s loud protestations, so the bear figured it wasn’t welcome and took off, this time crossing the driveway, scampering front of the barn, and then disappearing after entering the paddock.

    I have often complained about Kona’s barking habit, but I certainly appreciate her drawing our attention to things like bears.

Take a look at my paintings:


Monday, 20 June 2022

A Sudden Change of Direction

    Yesterday we drove to the McBride Airfield to walk Kona.  We were halfway down the tarmac when I noticed a dark hump in the tall grass on the side of the runway.  There was some kind of animal mostly hidden by the grass, and I figured something middle-sized, because I didn’t realize how tall the grass was.  Soon I saw the two rounded ears of a black bear.  It was just lounging around and eating the grass.

    One of the things we like about walking Kona at the airfield is that we can let her off of her leash, and she can run free, but after we spotted the bear, we quickly and quietly, called her and put her leash back on.  We were lucky because fortunately, she hadn’t caught a whiff of the bear, and the bear was unaware of us and Kona.

    We immediately turned around and walked back toward the car.  As we retreated, I turned my head to check on the bear.  It had become aware of us and was standing on its hind legs, looking in our direction.  It then started making its way through the tall grass, heading for the forest.  It didn’t want to see us any more than we wanted to see it.

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Sunday, 19 June 2022

Siberian Iris

    I had never heard of Siberian Iris, when many years ago a friend, whose family was one of the early farmer/settlers in the Robson Valley gave me a clump and told me to plant them.  I was happy to add to the flowers we had, and they have thrived.  They seem to like the moist environment that our property provides.  I have several patches of them, some I planted along the shoreline of my pond, and others in an old flower garden.

    Siberian Iris, with their long narrow stems are more lanky and taller than the regular iris, I was used to.  The blooms of ones I have, have a striking pattern, whose striped brownish areas always remind me of tiger skin.  My Siberian Iris seem especially happy with the weather we have gotten so far this year.

Take a look at my paintings:


Saturday, 18 June 2022

McBride Quilt Show

    I went to the Valley Piecemakers Quilt Show at McBride’s Valley Museum yesterday and as usual, I was amazed at all of the color and patterns of the quilts on display.  Quilting is such an under appreciated art form, considering the time, sewing skills, and creativity of the quilters.  The exhibition has been extended and will be open to the public through the end of next week.  If you haven’t seen it, you should make an attempt in order to have your eyes dazzled and to see what the local quilters have created.  

    Below are some examples:

You can see my paintings at:


Friday, 17 June 2022

Mailing Mosquitoes

    The other day I read a news article about a professor at U.B.C. (University of British Columbia) who was doing research on the mosquitoes that live in BC.  He was trying to document how many different species mosquitoes there were in BC and where they lived.  He was asking the public to mail in the mosquitoes they had swatted to him.   People should include, along with the mosquitoes, the date they were squashed, the location using Latitude and Longitude ( which can be found on Google Maps), and an email address if they want a response about what species they had sent.

    Mosquitoes have long been the bane of my life and I welcome any kind of research on them that might give me more information about the pests, so I am mailing off a few of the mosquito corpses that I created yesterday.  At present the mosquitoes are still tolerable outside, but their numbers will become intolerable once the snow-pack on the mountains melts and the Fraser River floods, and that will be soon.

    In Alaska the biomass of mosquitoes has been calculated to be over 43,500 tonnes -- equivalent to 17 trillion mosquitoes.  There have been times that I feel like that number is close to what we sometimes get around here.

    We generally get three waves of mosquitoes.  As soon as the snow in the valley bottom melts, we get large dozy, slow, mosquitoes, that don’t really cause much of a problem and are easy to kill.  Then later we get the middle-size mosquitoes that are more in number and are irritating.  That is what we have presently.  Later they are joined by tiny mosquitoes, very fast and very aggressive.  They dive at you instead of buzzing around.  They are the worst.  

    I have long wondered what species of mosquitoes we have and I am happy someone is doing research on them.

See my paintings at:


Thursday, 16 June 2022

Four Moose in a Mile

    I had to drive up to Prince George yesterday.  Usually when we make the drive during this time of year, bears can be seen grazing along the edges of the road, and yesterday I did see one black bear doing just that, but the biggest thrill of the day was seeing moose.  The moose population is in decline in BC, so it was a delight to see one, but yesterday I saw four of them within a mile’s drive.  Moose generally hang out alone, so it was a rare sighting so see so many.

    I was on a straight away on Hwy. 16 when far in the distance, I saw the vehicle in front of me brake, then I noticed the silhouette of a moose scamper across the highway in front of the driver into the verge on the left side of the highway.  When I got up to the point where I figured it would be, I scanned the growth on the left, but couldn’t see the moose, but at that same time, I spotted another moose on the right side trotting along the ditch.

    I drove on and probably only got about a mile further down the road, when I saw two more moose which I managed to get in a photo.  

    Maybe all the moose were leaving a meeting or something, it seemed highly unusual to see so many of the big gainly critters in such a short distance, when normally I feel lucky to catch the sight of one on the way to Prince George.

You can view my paintings at:


Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Rain on Hay

    I cut hay every summer.  I don’t have a tractor or bailer, so I use my lawn trimmer to cut my pasture, and paddock.  

    Normally farmers cut hay to feed their livestock during the winter and that is what I also used to do when I had a herd of Angora goats.  Because hay is used for feed, it is important that after it is cut, it can dry for a few days in the sun to prevent mold from growing on it.  I always augmented the bales of hay I bought, with the loose hay I cut from my pasture.  I no longer have the goats, but I still cut the hay because the cut fields reduce fire hazard, and I use the hay as mulch in the garden for my potatoes and in the greenhouse for my tomato plants.

    Because I use it as mulch, it really doesn’t matter if it gets wet and moldy.  In fact, it is probably better because the mold damages the seeds in the hay.  (I certainly don’t need any more weeds coming up in my garden.)

    It rained overnight and this morning when I was walking Kona, she wandered through the wet hay laying on the ground and I noticed the strings of rain drops beaded up on the leaves like jewels.  Here is a photo of the wet hay. 

Take a look at my paintings:


Monday, 13 June 2022

iced Mountains

    Late Saturday afternoon I was at the far end of the pond with Kona when I heard a faint roar.  At first I thought it was the roar of traffic on the highway, but then the sound seemed to intensify and get closer.  Then closer again.  I began to suspect that it was wind on the trees, although the trees I could see were not affected.  Louder again and I began to see the tops of distant trees moving.

    As the roar got louder, soon the tops of the trees around me began to wave  and bend in the strong wind.  This year I have noticed several of these sudden strong fronts of wind suddenly disturb the peace.  I can’t remember this happening in past years, although it must have.

    I could see the strong winds pushing pollen from the forests on the mountains into the air.  This continued into evening and was soon joined by light rain showers.  The photo above shows the Cariboo Mountains in a haze created by both the rain showers and the kicked up tree pollen.

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Sunday, 12 June 2022

Waterlily Bloom

    For someone like me who enjoys flowers, these last couple of weeks have been very rewarding.  As the succession of maturing plants continues, each week provides a new bloom to see.  I took this photo of one of the native waterlilies in my pond.  It was nice that the water was reflecting both the deep blue color of the sky and the clouds.

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Saturday, 11 June 2022

What Kona Saw Out of the Window

    Yesterday morning when I was upstairs painting my square, suddenly Kona erupted into loud manic fit of barking.  While I am busy doing things in the house, Kona often occupies her time by looking out of the window.  If she spots a bird, our neighbor’s cat or dogs, or a squirrel in our yard, there is nothing unusual about her ballistic bouts of barking, and we struggle to calm her down.

     “Shut up, Kona,” I shouted down to her, but as usual, that did no good.  She continued her tirade.  Then my wife who had gone to investigate, yelled up to me, “There’s a bear in the yard.”

    I guess this time, Kona’s loud barking was justified, because a big black bear was walking toward us on our pond path heading for our house.  It too then noticed the loud barking from the house, stopped, and thought over what it should do.  It advanced a bit closer, but then decided that it didn’t want to get involved with whatever was making the crazed canine vocalizations emanating from the house, so it turned, left the path, climbed over the wire fence, and disappeared into the woods.

    I was happy to see the bear.  We didn’t see any at all last year and heard that one had been hit by a vehicle just up the road, so I worried that there were not any around.  Bears do cause problems destroying our fruit trees, but I like knowing that nature is still out there.

You can see my paintings at:


Friday, 10 June 2022

Flowering Main Street

    Yesterday, Jane, Vern, (In photo), myself, and a handful of other volunteers from the community garden planted flowers in the big pots that are scattered along Main Street in McBride.  It was a beautiful day, except for the strong wind which somewhat hampered the operation.  Another problem was the soil in the planters was very dry and the Village watering truck was broken, so I hope that the flowers we planted get enough moisture to survive.

    You can’t just plant any flowers along Main Street.  You have to pick out plants that the deer won’t eat.  There were a lot of marigolds, nicotiana, and some others that I wasn’t familiar with.

    Planting on Main Street was an enjoyable job.  A lot of people stopped and commented or thanked us.  One guy with a German accent, stood and watched me as I planted the pot in front of the hardware store (below).   He inquired, “How much?”  I wasn’t sure what he meant, so I asked and discovered he assumed the hardware store was selling the planters and he wondered how much they cost.


Take a look at my paintings:


Thursday, 9 June 2022

Lady's Slipper

    It is my habit that as soon as I get done painting my square (or squares) for the day, I write this blog.  Fifteen minutes ago I finished painting and realized that I had absolutely nothing to blog about.  Then I remembered noticing that the Lady’s Slippers where blooming along the path that goes around the pond, so I figured that I would just go outside and take a photo of them, and that’s what I did.  

    I took several snapshots and the one you see above is the best of the lot.

    As someone who loves to take photo of nature, I feel very fortunate that I can just walk right outside my door and usually find something of beauty, especially this time of year when all of the plants are rushing to put out their flowers.

    After I took the photo and began walking back to the house I saw Kona, just sitting there in the pasture, waiting for me and wondering what I had been up to, so I took her photo too.

You can see my paintings at:


Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Solar/Wind Clothes Dryer

     All through the winter we use our electric clothes dryer, but now that it is summer, we are back hanging laundry on our clothesline.  The electric dryer is easier and leaves the clothes softer, but somehow, hanging them outside, makes them feel crispy and cleaner.  

    When I grew up the family clothesline was supported by T-shaped upright poles with wire strung between them.  I thought that was the way all clotheslines were, but when we first moved to Canada, I began to see clotheslines were on pulleys, which allowed the hanger to stand in one spot to hang the clothes, then wheel the wet clothes out over the lawn to dry.  That is the way our clothesline works;  I just stand on the deck, hang the clothes, and then wheel them out over the garden.

        When we bought our house, it came without a washer or dryer, so we had to rely on a laundromat in McBride.  Later we did by a washer and during the winter we would hang and drape the wet clothes all over the house to dry with the help of our wood stove.  If it wasn’t too cold outside, we would hang the clothes on the clothesline.


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