Friday 30 September 2022

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

I have always found Steve Martin, the imaginative comedian and author, not only to be a “Wild and Crazy Guy” but also a very clever and entertaining human being, so I was curious as to how his life developed.  Born in 1945 into a family headed with a cold and uncaring father who wanted to be a movie star, in 1950, his father moved the family from Waco, Texas to Hollywood.  His father’s stardom failed to materialize and so he ended up selling real estate.   Steve’s childhood was unexceptional, but when the family again had to move, this time because a highway was planned through their house, they settled in Orange County, and the move changed the direction of Steve’s life.

His new home was very close to Disneyland which had just been built.  A friend told Steve that kids could a job at Disneyland selling guidebooks, so Steve rode his bike over and got a job.   Selling the guidebooks meant that Steve got into Disneyland free and after he was done selling, he would spend the rest of the day exploring the “Magic Kingdom”.    In particular, he spent hours watching and studying one of the comedy acts and also one of the magic acts, until he was thoroughly versed in comedic timing and magic.  He then got a job in a Disneyland magic store selling and demonstrating magic tricks.

At the age of 18, Martin left his employment at Disneyland and took a job at Knott’s Berry Farm, a similar attraction that had been established before Disneyland.  There he was able to live and earn a living as part of a group that showed off their talents and did skits for the audiences.  Later after doing some standup comedian jobs, he was called to do a standup temporary job in Aspen, Colorado after the professional comedian they had hired, broke his leg skiing.  Steve’s comedy acts included a lot of sight jokes, banjo playing, and stupid magic tricks.

Through a girlfriend he become enamored with philosophy and sought a university major in Philosophy during his free time, while he worked as an entertainer.  After switching universities, he took both a beginners course in Advanced Symbolic Logic at the same time he was taking a beginners course in Advanced Symbolic Logic.  Simultaneously taking the two courses, fried his brain and so he switched his major to theater, and began to realized his future was in show business.

Steve met and fell for a girl named Mitzi Trumbo, who turned out to be the daughter of Dalton Trumbo, a famous screen writer, who was one of the Hollywood writers who had been investigated and then black listed from his job during the “Red Scare” of the 1950’s.  Trumbo ended up having to write the screen plays of very famous movies, Spartacus, Hawaii, and Exodus, under fake names.

Steve was often invited to be a part of Mitzi’s liberal family occasions, and was amazed at how warm and stimulating their family life was compared to his own cold upbringing.  I particularly enjoyed this bit about the Trumbos because Dalton Trumbo is someone I have always admired and his novel, Johnny Got His Gun has always been one of my favorites.

Through another girlfriend, Steve got a job as one of the writers for The Smother Brother’s Comedy Hour, one of my favorite political/comedy/music shows, of the late 1960’s.   As a comedy writer, Martin felt out of his depth and at one point, when asked if he could come up with some lines, he tried to act confident and answered, “Sure”, but after spending hours trying to come up with something and getting nowhere, and figuring his job was on the line, in desperation he called a comedic friend and ask if he could use one of his lines.  The friend said sure.  The line he had borrowed was a big success, and later when Martin asked if he had thought it up, he lied and said yes, then felt guilty about lying for years.  

While he eventually became successful as a writer for the Smothers Brothers’ show, inwardly he was very stressed about thinking he couldn’t do it and this led him to have panic attacks at night for years.

When CBS cancelled the Smother’s Brothers show because of political pressure from Nixon, Steve and the other writers lost their jobs.  He and Dave Epstein, who later became famous as “Super Dave” began writing for The Sonny & Cher Show, but eventually, Steve Martin decided he didn’t want to be a comedy writer, but rather, a standup comedian.  

It took years of him doing gigs on afternoon talk shows like Merv Griffin and Steve Allen, practicing routines and perfecting his act, before he eventually he made it to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  This gave him nationwide public recognition and he was able to then play in clubs across North America, but he still only played in smaller venues, whose pay was small and once he had deducted all of his travel and accommodation expenses,his wage was even smaller.  To make more money he started working for the “Gate” money, not a set fee.

After more appearances on the Tonight Show, his status grew and his audience numbers at his gigs started to skyrocket.  He was soon performing for hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands of people during a show.  He became very famous and wealthy.  

As his fame grew, his happiness declined.  He was no longer a private person who could walk down the street or do things anonymously.  Everywhere he went,  people would coming up to him.  He tried to be polite, but there were just too many.  He felt trapped in his house and depressed.  Eventually he quit doing standup comedy.  He wrote and made the successful movie “The Jerk” and wrote several novels.

His father, shortly before his death, did reconcile with Steve, confessing that he wished he would have been more loving toward Steve during his life.  All through Steve Martin’s amazing career, his father never said any thing nice or positive about Steve’s rise to fame and fortune, or his work.

It had been a long time since I had seen anything by Steve Martin and so after reading this autobiography I went to youtube and watched a few of his old sketches.  They are still very  funny and they stand up so well, even decades later.

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Thursday 29 September 2022

Autumn Is Showing

    The trees are turning.  In the Robson Valley we mostly get yellow leaves.  Do you see the Aspen trees in the photo above, they have no leaves.  Something got to the Aspen this year, I’m not sure if it was an insect or a disease, but a lot of Aspen had leaves that turned brown and fell off during the summer.  

    I had to include the photo below because it shows the intense red of the creeping ivy leaves on our garden fence.

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Wednesday 28 September 2022

Lone Horse

    This wasn’t the only horse grazing in the pasture beside Horseshoe Lake Road, but it was off on its own and I thought it made a nice photo.  There had been close to twenty horses and young colts out in the pasture, but now there are only about eight.  It was always nice to see the whole herd out there because it seemed more natural and something from the past.

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Tuesday 27 September 2022

Into The Fast Lane

    Over the last year our internet has been getting slower and slower.  If we were lucky we would get speeds like 7 Mbps during the day, but at night the speeds could drop to .8 or .3 Mbps, if it didn’t completely stop totally for periods of time.  It was extremely frustrating, especially since we were paying $90 / month.  

    Something had to be done, but living where we do outside a small isolated village, our options were very limited.  In the end I opted for Elon Musk’s expensive satellite internet, Starlink.   We are getting old and do have money saved, so we thought we might as well get a bit of pleasure from it.   The system is expensive though for Canadians:  $900 for equipment, then $140 / month, but the internet we received is amazingly fast.

    We do have a problem with having a lot of all trees close to our house and I was worried I didn’t have enough sky to pick up the satellite, but I found a spot using the Starlink app.  (The spot was totally different from where I was thinking.)  Surprisingly, the dish automatically moves around to find the satellites, and it is heated to melt the snow.

    After I installed the Starlink dish (it was amazingly simple) and went online to do a speed test, I got  an unbelievable 199 Mbps and since then I haven’t gotten anything lower than 45 Mbps.  We can actually watch video without the annoying stops as it tries to download.

    I am not unaware of the increasing problem of so many satellites clogging up the upper atmosphere, but was somewhat reassured that the Starlink satellites are controlled to be brought back down if they wear out.

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Monday 26 September 2022

Wood Duck Gathering

    Because they are silhouetted, you really can’t tell from the photo, but this is a group of wood ducks on my pond.  They have been hanging around for a week and every time I walk Kona around the pond they all take flight, but I recognize their call when they take off complaining.  

    Years ago I had 30 or so wood ducks that would sometimes gather on the pond during the fall.  I even had some nesting in some of the nesting boxes I had hung in the trees, but something must have happened when they migrated south, because for about 10 years there were no wood ducks in the Valley.  

    A few years ago I heard from a local birder that she had again seen a few in the McBride lagoon.  I saw a couple at my pond this last spring, and now here is a small flock of them which I assume hatched somewhere close this summer.  I hope their numbers continue to increase.

    Wood ducks are nervous birds and it is difficult to get very close to them because they fly off.  I was able to take this photo with a zoom lens from my balcony.

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Sunday 25 September 2022

Colorful Branch

    This photo is a bit “busy” with all of the water lily leaves in the background, but I wanted to get a picture of this colorful Red Osier Dogwood branch which was hanging out over the pond, and that was the only kind of shot I could take.  The leaves on the branch are amazing, with the intense reds on one end and the orangish-lime green on the other.  

    The leaves on most of our trees are still basically green, but they are developing a yellowish hue.

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Saturday 24 September 2022

Backlit Lupine Husks

    Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I like to take photos of backlit plants.  Shooting toward the sun gives a dramatic effect to the subject.   I have always taken a lot of photos of Lupine, the foliage and the flowers, but I rarely take any pictures of the empty seed-holding husks, but the other day as I was walking into the pasture from the pond path the low sun was streaming toward the lupines and I really liked the effect.


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Friday 23 September 2022

Spider Web

    I’m not sure why, but I always seem to see more spider webs in the fall.  It could be that spiders build more webs then, or maybe they are just more noticeable because all of the vegetation is on decline.  I came upon this one the other morning as Kona and I were walking around the pond.  The morning sun had just come over the mountain and was low on the horizon, backlighting the web.  The web also had tiny drops of dew on it, which also made it more visible.

    Spider webs are certainly a marvel of design and construction.

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Thursday 22 September 2022

If These Disappear, That's Alright

    Here are some of our gigantic zucchinis.  A few weeks ago I picked two similar-sized ones and put them on our carport, until we got around to using them.  A couple of days ago I was sweeping the carport and noticed that they were no longer there, so I asked my wife if she had moved them.  She told me she hadn’t, so I figured the neighborhood bear must have carried the zucchini off to eat.  

    Since the frost had killed off the zucchini plants in the garden, I started carting the remains off to the compost pile.  Under all of the withered leaves I found all of these big zucchini.  It’s way more than we will ever use, and since the bear seemed to have liked them, I just stacked them by the compost pile and if the bear is still hungry, it is welcome to them.

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Wednesday 21 September 2022

Frosted Clover and Yarrow

    Twenty minutes ago, I had no photos to show you on my blog, so I headed outside to see what I could find.  We had another frost overnight (-2°C, 28°F) and so many of the plants in the pasture were sprinkled with frost.  Above is some clover, complete with flowers, covered with frost.  The frost also gave me a unique image of the leaves of this yarrow plant.

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Tuesday 20 September 2022

Fall Fern

    We had our first frost last night (-2°C, 28°F), but I took this photo a couple of days ago, and this fern had given up growing before we had the frost.  

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Monday 19 September 2022

Photo of Queen Elizabeth

    The other day I was in the lobby of the McBride Train Station and noticed this old portrait of Queen Elizabeth that had probably been hanging there for many decades.  Upon the death of Elizabeth, someone had taken the trouble to attach a black ribbon across the picture as a memorial to the queen. 

    I don’t really know what the protocol for the death of a prominent official is when it comes to a photo hanging in a public building, maybe there is no longer a protocol, but seeing the black ribbon seemed to me to be something that one would see a century ago.  Anyway, I thought it was interesting that someone had done it.

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Sunday 18 September 2022

Now I see Everything

    I recently rebuilt our deck.  The planks on our old deck were getting rotten.  They had never been painted which probably led to their deterioration.  With age they became a dark brown color, so we didn’t really notice all of the constant debris from the trees that fell on it.

    I painted the new deck with this light gray color, and wow, now we see every little thing that falls on it.  I was shocked yesterday when I looked out on the deck to see all of these little leaves that had fallen on it.  I guess I had better get the broom out.

    While noticing all of the debris will make for more work, it is probably a good thing for the life of the deck because it will be harder for the deck to deteriorate if all of the organic materials that fall on it is seen and removed more often.

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Saturday 17 September 2022

Dill and Sunflowers

    The other morning when I went out to the garden, I was planning to tear out the pea vines and collect the dry peas for seed, but everything was too wet with dew, so I gave up on that job and started pulling up weeds.  As I was weeding I worked my way over to where the dill was.  The backlit dill plants were sparkling with jewel-like dew and behind them were the yellow sunflowers.  

    It was all a nice yellowish composition and luckily I had my iPhone in my pocket and was able to take this photo.

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Friday 16 September 2022

Intense Red

    We have a garden gate with an arch over it.  The arch is covered with a Boston Creeper plant whose leaves turn a brilliant red every autumn.  The other evening I was out pulling weeds in the garden and happened to glance over to the arch and was amazed at the intensity of the color of the leaves.

    The sun was low on the horizon and shining through the haze of forest fire smoke.  The haze gave the light an orangish hue that really intensified the reddish color of the leaves.  I had my iphone in my pocket so took this photo.  I haven’t manipulated the image at all, it is how it came out of the camera.

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Wednesday 14 September 2022


     If smog is the combination of smoke and fog, I guess that is what is happening today.  Usually when we get fog it “burns off” as the day warms up, so I guess I will have to wait until then to see if we still have the forest fire smoke , but my bet is that we do. 

    The photo shows what our house looked like as I returned from walking Kona around the pond this morning.

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Tuesday 13 September 2022

Smoky Sunset

    This year I was hoping that we would get through summer without periods of smoke from forest fires, but it was not to be.  It seems like now, days or weeks of smoke are just part of what will happen.  Still, I guess we are lucky that the smoke is coming from far away and not from fires in the Robson Valley.

    The smoke not only makes these fleeting summer days rather depressing, but it is not doing good things to our bodies with every breath we take.  

    Our present smoke is not the worse we have experienced, because we can still see the sun through the haze, but with summer slowly coming to an end, it is sad that what would have been pristine days have been tarnished.

    Above is a smoke-colored sun reflecting on the pond.   Below is the pale sun going behind the mountains.


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Monday 12 September 2022


     Yesterday I glanced up from our yard to the slope across the road and noticed the different greens  and textures of the trees.  Although the trees are still green, their coloring has been very slowly shifting toward yellow as fall approaches.

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Sunday 11 September 2022

Racing the Bear to the Apples

    Timing is very important this time of year.  The apples are not completely mature yet, but if I wait any longer to pick them, there is a good chance that the neighborhood bear will arrive one night, trash the apple tree, and eat all of the apples.  The only solution to the problem is for me to pick the apples before the bear.  

    There have been several years when, after noticing the maturing apples, I have told myself, “I will pick the apples tomorrow.”

    The next day when I go outside, to my dismay, I discover that overnight, the bear has come, mangled the apple tree, and eaten all of the apples.  Their timing was amazing.

    Sorry bear, I will be picking all of the apples from our to trees today.  If you come tonight, you will be too late.

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Saturday 10 September 2022

Unclouded Sky

    One of the songs we sometimes play at our jam is “Unclouded Sky” and that song has certainly popped into my mind over the last couple of days because that is how our sky has been.  Generally we are able to see a cloud somewhere up there, but lately the sky has been clear.  Our nights have been starting to flirt with freezing, getting down to 2°C (35°F), and that has been at our place, elsewhere in the Robson Valley they have received frost.  

    The days have been beautiful, once the sun comes over the mountains and it warms up.

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Friday 9 September 2022

Our Royal Collection

    I am not a Monarchist, but it is difficult to live in a country where the Queen’s image is on the currency, where photographs of her often appears in government offices, and where you have to swear allegiance to the Queen in order to immigrate, and not have the Monarchy seep into our home.  We have several items that we have picked up over the years that show Queen Elizabeth and our new king, Charles III.  I thought, now with the 24/7 news stories about Queen Elizabeth’s death, it would be a good time to show off our “Royal Collection”.

    Above you see a cup celebrating the crowning of the Queen.  Below, is a cookie tin that commemorates the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, and below that is another cookie tin (we eat a lot of cookies) with the only image we have of King Charles III, although it celebrates something he would probably prefer to forget.


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Thursday 8 September 2022

Suddenly, Hornet's Nests

    I am always walking around outside our house doing things.  That is why it was so surprising to me two days ago, when I happened to glance up at the eaves in the front of our house and saw this huge hornet’s nest tucked against a beam.  It is probably 16 inches (40cm) top to bottom, and it must have been there for months, but I never noticed it before.

    Strangely, yesterday we were taking advantage of beautiful weather, sitting on our lanai, when I looked out across our yard and spotted another hornet’s nest attached to a branch of a cottonwood tree.  It was smaller than the one on the house, about the size of a very fat football.  I can’t saw that I noticed any hornets all summer long.

    Hornets build the nest during the summer, lay eggs, hatch young, then in the fall, they all die off except for the mated queen.  The nests are left abandoned before winter hits.  The queen takes off and hunkers down in some warm place for winter, then in the spring she starts building a new nest, lays more eggs, and starts the process all over again.

      I will just let the nest on the house be until winter, then take it down.  Hornet’s don’t bother people unless people bother them.

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Wednesday 7 September 2022

"Valley Storm", My Latest Painting

    I finished this painting yesterday.  It is a scene looking down at the Valley from the halfway point on McBride Peak during a storm.  It was done on a 24” X 36” canvas with acrylics.  I started painting it in the middle of May.   It took me 97 hours to paint.

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Tuesday 6 September 2022

Cloud Show

    I always enjoy seeing dramatic looking clouds and the turbulent weather we have been getting lately has provided a lot of them for me to see.  I took this photo of the clouds yesterday as we were walking Kona at the McBride Airfield.  

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Monday 5 September 2022

After The Storm

    We had big storm blow through yesterday.  There was a ferocious wind, torrents of rain, flashing lightning, and crashing thunder.  Our power went off for three hours.  The most damaging thing that happened was that branches blew off of a cottonwood tree and crashed through and broke, 3 panes of glass on my greenhouse.   Luckily, several months ago when I bought some glass to replace a couple of panes that had broken, I bought 3 extra, just in case.  I am sure glad I did.

    The wind also broke and scattered branches from our willow trees, spreading them across the driveway, but they will be easy to deal with.  

    The thunder terrified Kona, who trembled as I tried to comfort her in the dark, due to the power outage and although we had no internet, we were able to check the closeness of the lightning strikes on our cell phones (Below, red dots lightning, blue dot: our house).

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Sunday 4 September 2022

Reusing My Old Deck Planks

    I hate to throw things away if I think I might be able to use them for something else.  When I ripped up the old deteriorating cedar planks from my deck, I couldn’t think of anything else to use them except burn them as firewood, but then I thought I might lay them in the muddy sections of our trail that goes around the pond.  That would give them a second life until they eventually rot away.

    Some of them presently have a bit of a wobble when you step on them due to the fact that they are sitting on uneven ground, but I think they will settle as the ground under them softens.   So far Kona doesn’t like walking on the boards, choosing to walk in the weeds beside them instead, but I think she will eventually come around and see their benefit.

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Saturday 3 September 2022

Smoky Mountains

    Today our mountains are partially obscured by a smoky haze and the sunlight is coloring everything with an orangish hue.  Smoke from far away forest fires has covered the Robson Valley, as well as most of British Columbia.  This used to be a rare summer event, but now we seem to experience it for days every summer.

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Friday 2 September 2022

Forested Slopes

    Here is a shot of the forested lower slopes of the Park Range of the Rocky Mountains that I took in the evening as we were walking Kona at the McBride Airfield.  I loved the rolling contours between the various creeks in the evening light.

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Thursday 1 September 2022

Another Sunset

    The weather systems that have been passing over the Robson Valley have certainly been providing us with a lot of colorful sunsets.  I took this photo last night, but it is not the actual sunset, but instead, what was going on in the sky opposite the sunset.  I like the pinkish underbelly of the large cloud with the smaller bluish clouds silhouetted in front of it.

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