Living Memorial Sculpture Garden, Weed California - bruce witzel photo


The Why Sculpture at the Living Memorial Sculpture Garden, Weed California



Kohan reflection garden @ Slocan Lake, BC - Fran Guenette photo


Kohan Reflection Garden – New Denver BC

Four thousand  Canadians of Japanese Heritage were interned nearby during World War 2 including the well known environmentalist, scientist and broadcaster, Dr. David Suzuki.



“War does not determine who is right – only who is left.”   Bertrand Russell







Did you know that food can be cooked with the sun? For Earth Day 2016, here’s an introduction to environmental friendly solar cooking. Bon appetit.


Sun oven with reflectors open - Bruce Witzel photo


Reflectors are opened like petals on a flower, to collect and focus sunlight. The glass cover will trap heat inside the oven and pots.

You’ll understand this better by remembering how hot your car can get if it is parked in the sun.


Preparing a solar meal in a black pot - bruce witzel photo


With solar ovens it’s always best to cook with less liquid than traditional ovens because sun ovens operate in slightly lower temperature ranges. Also, it is best to use black cookware that will absorb the sunlight. An exception to this rule is parabolic solar cookers which are exceptionally hot.









Here are a few different solar cookers we have used over the years.


Solar cooking at Fran's old apartment at Universtiy of Victoria - Bruce Witzel photo



Homebuilt solar oven - by Bruce Witzel -2




My first solar oven, circa 1979 - bruce witzel photo


Our more traditional crock pot is used for cloudy days, and yet it works from stored solar electricity.


Traditonal electric crock pot - bruce witzel photo


This brilliant model designed in India is a solar electric plug-in hybrid. An electric heating element comes on if the sun goes behind the clouds.


Solar Electric Hybrid Cooker - bruce witzel photo 



In many sun rich areas of the world solar cooking helps women avoid breathing smoke from cook fires and saves money. The sun cookers also help save trees and the earth’s delicate ecology.


Care and Support Network November 2012 - courtesy Womens Engineers of Mali

This parabolic solar cooker was developed in part, by the Women’s Engineers of Mali.


Patricia McArdle, former US diplomat and a technical advisor to Solar Cookers International (SCI) is an advocate of sustainable, renewable energy, and a global promoter of integrated solar thermal cooking technology. This photo  taken near New Delhi, India (used courtesy of SCI.) illustrates the simplicity and elegance of a solar panel cooker.


Solar_cooking_in_Nepal - photo courtesy of  Solar Cookers International


What about this innovative idea for a built-in solar kitchen?




Jack Lund of Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society at earth day event - bruce witzel photo (b&w)



As surely as the sun arises, may the fog on our consciousness lift. Come on world… let’s have a full scale embrace of all the solar solutions and let’s get on with solar cooking.

Along with saving the planet from more massive climate change events, a small bonus will be that people who use propane barbecues won’t have to change cylinders all the time.

Put that in your barbecue and smoke it!


A good solar cooking  day as the fog lifts - bruce witzel photo


Cheers, and have happy earth day – every day.




 Dinner & Earth Prompt  

Izzy’s Clothesline Platform

Fran's rebuilt clothes line platform, April 14, 2016 - by bruce witzelMy wife Francis has a lovely piece of dialogue in her first novel, Disappearing in Plain Sight, when Izzy’s husband Caleb talks to his friend Liam as they watch Izzy hang out the laundry. Moving and humorous, all I might add is that some truths are best expressed in fiction. Read on, and then click to her blog at the bottom, for a bit of a chuckle! (And, I must confess – I hope you enjoy my own handiwork.)


Socks on the line - Guenette photo

For all the new readers of Disappearing in Plain Sight – here’s a treat and an example of how fiction informs reality.

One of the first building projects tackled after I came to the cabin was a crude platform up a couple of stairs that allowed me to reach the newly installed clothesline. For all it’s primitive nature, that original platform hung around a long time – twenty-three years this fall!

Sheets on the line - Guenette photo

In the above photo, the platform is barely visible. It was a humble structure all tucked up behind the salal bushes. And definitely on it’s last legs in 2015 with rotting posts causing the whole thing to lean forward at the front end. The already iffy platform was not helped, on more than one afternoon near the end of last summer, by the antics of a large bear who chose to climb up and plant him or herself on…

View original post 541 more words

What’s can you see the distance? On trees, bees & the sun.




   What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and one another.

~ Mahatma Gandhi ~


A week or so ago an amazing event occurred here at the lake, on an unusually warm and calm spring day. At first we couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t fire or smoke. Nor was it dust from logging or mining. After a bit of puzzling we got it – eureka! Away in the distance at the base of the mountains, an outburst of pollen was rising from the trees. It was as if before us, the earth and forest were making love. Mother nature, re-creating. Giving us life and sustenance…


Pollen flare-up over the lake in British Columbia, April 7 2016 -  bruce witzel photo


“The mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”  – Isaiah  the Prophet


 A close-up of the pollen flare…

Pollen eruption at the lake April 7, 2106  telephoto view -bruce witzel photo


Most trees in our local ecosystem are evergreen conifers such as spruce, red cedar, douglas fir, and western hemlock. The only local deciduous broadleaf tree is red alder which grows rapidly and may shade out the more commercially favoured conifers. But red alders have important eco-logical value because their root nodules fix nitrogen in the soil and their leaves create rich compost on the forest floor. They also reclaim slide zones from logging and floods, hence preventing further soil erosion.


So, where did the pollen burst come from?

Although I’m not certain, I suspect it came from the alder trees – from the male flowers or male catkins, to be precise…


A fallen red alder catkin (male)  - bruce witzel photo



            Red Alder catkins (male) on left, and          

        slung over a huckleberry bush (below)


            Red alder male catkin & huckleberry buds -bruce witzel photo
















  Pollen flares at Victoria Lake - bruce witzel photo


As for the future, where is the pollen cloud is heading?


To the female red alder catkins (below), one might accurately surmise.


Red alder female catkin hanging in huckleberry bush - bruce witzel photo


“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


Below is another view of the pollen burst. The lakeshore (left) is lined with broadleaf red alders.

To the left side of the frame are alder branches.


Alder tree and pollen eruption, April8, 2016 - bruce witzel photo



To shift the story a bit (and indeed the paradigm), the next day pollen was everywhere…


Alder pollen on solar water heater - bruce witzel photo


Can you see where I wiped it off the glass of the solar hot water heater?


Alder pollen on my fingers - bruce witzel photo



Usually our solar electric panels need little maintenance. But there was so much pollen I had to clean off the yellow film that was blocking out the sunlight.


31 year old Kyocera Solar Electric cells - bruce witzel photo


It was good I took the time, because for the first time I noticed some discoloration and darkened purple color on a few our oldest panels. These solar photo-volt-aic panels have been producing power for 31 years now. When brand new in 1985 the cells were all bright blue like the center one. Over more time they’ll begin to give us less electricity and in future we will need to install a few more solar panels to make up the difference.


It is also a good thing that solar solutions are rapidly becoming less expensive. Especially considering the harm that fossil fuels are igniting, and on the overall future of the planet.



“We cannot hope to either understand or to manage the carbon in the atmosphere unless we understand and manage the trees and the soil too.”  Freeman Dyson



Apr. 4, 2016 -Alberta Solar Jobs (source - Green Party of Canada)


I think the dream of a solar age is now coming to fruition. In realizing this, it will be good for us to be aware that nature will always provides us with the best most important solar collectors – 

the flora of the earth around us – the plants and trees.



Vancouver Island Lake on a calm day, with red alder trees in bloom - bruce witzel photo


And of course the pollen, and the birds.


Rufous Hummingbird - charles brandt photo



And the bees…


Finding the nectar - bruce witzel photo


Cheers – Bruce



The future depends on what you do today.

~ Mahatma Gandhi ~




Rufous hummingbird photo by Charles Brandt (click here for a link to a new video on the life of Fr. Charles)


                                  (WPC The future – potential of things to come)



from Thich Nhat Hanh . . .


Spring Green, Wisconsin at Taleisen East - bruce witzel photo

I like to walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wild grasses on both sides, putting each foot down in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wondrous earth.



Boy in Kaslo BC - Fran Guenette photo

In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality.



Marble River - Bruce witzel photo

People usually consider walking on water or in thin air as a miracle.



A family in the  Sierra Nevadas - bruce witzel photo

But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or thin air, but to walk on earth.


Thich Nhat Hanh , Buddhist Monk

& friends



Photo source & credit – unknown.


Peace and love – Bruce



READ ALL ABOUT IT! Disappearing In Plain Sight, for free…

       A view from the deck…. could this be Crater Lake?

View of the lake, March 23, 2016  - bruce witzel photo


In celebration of my wife’s first novel in the Crater Lake Series, Disappearing in Plain Sight      e-book is being offered free on Amazon until this Tuesday. Click that link to head over there.


Currently it’s risen to number one in it’s category!


                                                                DPS Softcover jpeg (2)front



Here’s the back cover synopsis, and below that are a few reviews…



DPS Softcover jpeg (2)closeup backcover


What do the readers say?


  • It’s quite rare for me to encounter a story that stays with me for months afterward. This book did just that rare thing for me … I devoured this story, felt attached to the characters, and was sorry when it was over. Not to mention that the Guenette’s beautiful prose made me yearn for the rugged west coast …


  • I didn’t want this book to end. To say the characters are compelling doesn’t do them justice. They are as real as if they were my own friends and neighbours.


  • Disappearing in Plain Sight is a beautiful read with fascinating characters and a setting you are dying to visit by the end of the book… Guenette keeps you guessing with cleverly woven twists that touch on real and emotional issues including alcoholism, loss, abuse and infidelity. Grab a cuppa and put your feet up. You’ll want to cosy up for this one!


  • I enjoyed this moving story, it’s characters and their relations with nature. I would recommend it to anyone who cares about the environment which our descendants will inherit.


  • Disappearing in Plain Sight is a story of real life problems and the often unforeseen consequences of the choices we make…Guenette’s cleverly written twists and unanswered questions held my attention all the way through. I love that I incorrectly predicted the outcome of every storyline, right up to the heart-pounding climax…


  • I recommend this novel that delves deeply into the human psyche and soul to give hope to all who have only to turn the page to become immersed in life at Crater Lake.


  • I will add Disappearing in Plain Sight to that rather restricted number of books I will never forget – and boy am I glad that there is a sequel, already on my Kindle!





Cheers to a           good read…



~ Bruce ~



A bit of eraly morning fog on the lake, March 26, 2016 - bruce witzel photo



“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

Rachel Carson



Our solar water heater tank March 3, 2016 -bruce witzel photo



Old solar heating advertisemnents - from A Golden Thread 2500 years of Solar Architceture



View of our solar powered home, March 26 2016 - bruce witzel photo




Fog lifting, March 24 2016 - bruce witzel photo




Next to the Fraser River - bruce witzel photo




The cabin, March 26, 2016 - bruce witzekl photo




An Easter greeting of new hope for the earth


~ Bruce & Francis ~



Fran & Bruce in Idaho


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