This is what our retirement home looked like back in the 1950's. The original farmhouse was built in the 1870's. This picture is a colourized (by our duaghter Johanna) black and white photograph that appeared in our South Lake history book.

Our retirement home in 2017. The picture came from Marjorie's art studio in 2006.

The latest creation from Marjorie's art studio. It's a barred (not 'Bard') owl. They live in the neighbourhood. I suggested a couple of glow in the dark highlights and then we could hang it up in the upstairs hallway.

(September 2017) Marjorie's latest creation is a watercolour done from a picture we took on the way to the town of Haliburton. It was snowing at the time and the horses were speckled with new fallen snow. — in Haliburton, Ontario.

(February 2018) As a followup to our firewood scavenger hunt after the ice storm a few weeks ago, Marjorie did a watercolour painting of a neighbour's "redneck" yard and the fallen branches scattered about. The air was filled with the awesome aroma of pine branches.

(March 2018) Marjorie's latest creation is titled "Mailbox Hit and Run." We don't know the culprit exactly but we suspect the driver of a red dump truck marked "Township of Minden Hills." It had a snow plow on the front. Our green mailbox has since had emergency surgery and while there are some lingering scratches and dents, the neighbour's mailbox didn't fare so well. It was left without a leg to stand on. The ground has to thaw before the post can be replaced. And yes, we still have snow on the ground, but as it slowly goes down, maple syrup is happening. It is truly nature's ambrosia. You can see one of the sap buckets on the maple tree. — in Haliburton, Ontario.

(March 2018) As promised, here is Marjorie's painting of Rocky the Red Squirrel. He lives in our front yard and hangs out on the split rail fence. In order to get his picture, we had to resort to a little bit of bribery. Scattered along the fence rail is a mixture of cookie crumbs mixed with peanut butter, sunflower seeds, and peanuts. Marjorie sat outside on a chair for quite some time waiting for him to show up.

(March 2018) This American Toad watercolour was done some time ago but never got posted to FaceBook, so here he is. Unlike Rocky the Red Squirrel who required extensive bribery to sit still for a picture, the toad was very obliging. There is something missing that has been corrected on the painting since the photo was taken. Can you see what it is?

(April 2018)This is Chippy, our neighbour chipmunk, perched on the garden hose tap, looking longingly up at the bird feeder. He can smell the sunflower seeds even as he contemplates how to get from here to there. And yes, he did make it. FYI Chippy only has one eye, but that doesn't slow him down. He has dug a burrow hole under the feeder where he can get all the seeds that the birds drop.

(April 2018) Upon closer examination ... We have suspected it for a couple of days now but this morning our suspicions were confirmed. We have at least two (2) (dos) (deux) (zwei) red squirrels. One has a more medium brown back, the other is decidedly a redhead, so we have named the pair Rocky and Prince Harry (the redhead). Not sure if they are a couple or just hanging out together. We will keep you posted. Also not sure if these are pictures of the same one or at least one picture of each of them. We can now tell them apart though, a least a little bit.

(April 2018) Now that the snow is finally melting in the bush, Marjorie's next artistic challenge has emerged from its winter coat of white. This picture was taken nearby and Marjorie is determined to preserve what's left of this 1937 Chevrolet pickup truck in watercolours. She's tired of painting snow, and she's done enough birds for a while, so this will be her next challenge. Besides, the birds keep flying away but the truck isn't going anywhere. Almost looks like Bonnie and Clyde's get-a-way car.

Here is Marjorie's promised artistic rendering of a neighbour's truck, long abandoned in the woods. This picture was taken nearby and Marjorie was determined to preserve what's left of this 1937 Chevrolet pickup truck in watercolours. Almost looks like Bonnie and Clyde's get-a-way car.

(June 2018) This painting is a combination of two pictures I (Marjorie) took near Fenelon Falls. The sheep in the foreground were at a wool festival and the background was mostly how you see it, except there weren't any sheep back there. I like putting in things that weren't really there. Oh, and only one of the chimneys was red. You can see daylight through the windows because the house is missing half the roof. I didn't make that up.

(June 2018) As promised yesterday, this is Mortimer Moose, or Morty the mighty moose. We have moose in our area but I haven't actually seen one, so I had to have some help from Google for this guy. I started to real

ize while painting, how really massive they are. Happy day after Canada Day everyone, and stay cool.

(August 2018) This painting shows my lake last week, just before a big thunder storm with hail the size of golf balls. The picture is eventually going to a friend who lives in another country, so I put in a loon because I'm pretty sure she has never seen one.

(August 2018) Cow and calf at a farm near our house. It's hard to get pictures of them as they aren't usually in the front pasture by the road. I just have to take the camera along and be ready. I liked this nice peaceful scene.

(September 2018) These nesting mute swans were in a park in Hamilton. This picture is not quite finished, but I'm getting there. Swans are easy to paint. Water is challenging.

We, and other people I've talked to, are having a problem this autumn with unwanted visits from these little varmints. I painted this picture in 2007, the last time we were overrun with them. Nature will balance itself out next year, (we hope) with more owls and foxes which enjoy mouse snacks.

(2018) Here's the latest creation from Marjorie's art studio. She hasn't been able to paint flowers or geese or loons because most living things that could have gone south already did. I'm the last subject on the property, heading out for a walk with my walking poles. It's a winter wonderland up here with about a foot and a half of fluffy snow, piling gently on the tree branches and power lines.

My Little Chickadee (2019)

These little black-capped chickadees are constantly at our feeder outside the kitchen window. They are clever little acrobats. The only time they stay away is when the female Cardinal comes for a feed, or they stay on the other side of the feeder.

As promised, here's the source and headwaters of this year's maple gold. Marjorie had wanted to include our pair of red squirrels that have been out running around "twitterpating" but they wouldn't stand still long enough to get their picture taken. Maybe when spring fever wears off ... If you don't know what "twitterpating is, google it).

These are Canada geese on the Gull river in Minden in the summer. I can't wait for the river to look like this again, with sparkling waves and geese floating around. I am so tired of winter.

This is our Abbey, enjoying a lazy afternoon down on the dock one summer. Actually it's a fake. If you knew Abbey, you knew that the dock was never for lying on but always for getting into the water, which is where she really wanted to be. Marjorie took a picture of Abbey lying on the lawn and through the magic of watercolours painted her down on the dock.

Johanna and I spent a morning exploring Bowen Park and taking pictures of the Millstone River waterfall. It's pretty right now, but in the spring it turns into a roaring torrent of water. When we lived in Nanaimo, this park was a favourite place for our family to go in the summer The river would almost dry up. Just a few inches of water remained on the flat riverbed above the falls, and the trees provided great shade. The kids could play for hours in the little pools of river water.

It was a chilly, windy afternoon at Piper's Lagoon in Nanaimo. Big waves like this one were coming in, so I decided to sit snugly in the car while Johanna walked down the spit between the ocean and the lagoon and took pictures. A long time ago I painted a picture of the far end of the spit, with the Garry oaks, and with logs washed up on the shore. That was on a sunny summer day. The weather this time wasn't as good, but the clouds were spectacular, and the waves were dramatic. I can still hear them rolling in and crashing on the beach.

Sulpher Tufts Mushrooms ... Bowen Park ... Nanaimo, BC ... October 2014

No, this is not Route 66 ... it is Highway 18 on Vancouver Island, heading west from Duncan to the wonderful town of Youbou on Cowichan Lake. We were there in mid-October for 9 days of vacation time to visit our favourite people and our favourite spots, The Dingy Dock Pub, Beefeaters and many, many more. Now back home, it's time to paint some pics. This is the first one!

This is Sid ... Sid Vee to his friends. Sid Vicious to his fans. Just look for I think that will get you there.

Visual Arts Mississauga Annual Juried Art Show at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, January, 2012

December 6, 2011

I haven't posted for awhile because I was busy and trying to get ready for a juried art competition. I worked on this picture for awhile and thought I'd submit it for the competition but I changed my mind. It's not quite finished, but eventually it will be. It's from a photo I took at a wedding reception I went to last summer at the Steamwhistle Brewery in Toronto. I finally made up my mind to submit another picture which I've done recently. You have to be a pretty good artist even to get your picture accepted for the show. I might not get in, but then again, I might. And there are prizes for the three best paintings in the show. Those I'm not even dreaming of, but if my painting gets into the show, I'll be so excited.

September 5, 2011

Early one wet and misty morning, intending to go down to the dock to look at the lake, I almost trampled this little fellow. As you can see, he was right by the bottom step, and he was pretty well camouflaged. I went and got the camera, of course, and took several pictures while he tried to get away. He moved closer to the steps, and eventually hopped up on the bottom one. Then he went under the deck. I think I'll do another picture of him sitting on the step.

August 15, 2011

Abbey loves Larry almost as much as she loves wading in the lake. And that, my friends, is a LOT. Here they are chilling together on the couch in the cottage living room.

August 9, 2011

I don't remember when I painted this picture, but it was definitely several years ago. I just found it again, so here it is. I love big, fluffy clouds, even though they often bring rain.

July 29, 2011

I did my research to identify this dragonfly, because I like to know what I'm photographing. It's a Widow Skimmer, and it really liked the lilies in my cottage garden. While reading about Skimmers, I found out that they are pruinescent; that is, they have a coating over their shell, kind of like the dusty white bloom on a purple plum. In bright daylight, the bloom reflects light as if the dragonfly were encrusted with tiny diamonds. I'm not sure what the purpose of the coating is, but it must be there for a reason. Dragonflies, I found out, are perfectly harmless and eat a lot of other insects. Their diet includes moths and damselflies (and hopefully mosquitoes.) I've seen lots of other dragons around the cottage, but this one was bigger than the others I've seen. It caught my eye as it sat motionless on the lily bud.

July 25, 2011

This is a Green Frog. Not all Green Frogs are green; it depends on their habitat. They are very common in Ontario, and not picky about where they live, as long as it's wet. In some dark and murky swamps, they can be almost black. Some are also blue. This one was sitting still in the grassy bank by the lake. It stayed very still while I took several pictures. I wanted to get a bit closer, but who knows how much paparazzi a frog can take before it decides to hop away? It eventually did disappear, but probably just into the shallow water.

July 21, 2011

This is Abbey. We adopted her just before Christmas, so this is her first summer at the lake with us. We knew already that she loved water, but still we weren't prepared for how much that would be true. In the painting, Larry is holding her so I could get just get one picture of her out of the water. The only place she really wanted to be when not in the cottage was chest-deep in lovely, cool lake water.

While our friends were up visiting for a few days, we tried to have some dog-free time on the dock with them, so one afternoon we put Abbey inside the cottage, carefully dog-proofed everything (all food in cupboards, and the garbage can shut in the laundry room, and so forth) locked the back sliding door (because she can open unlocked ones), went out through the front door and down to the lake. About four minutes later, guess who came running down the steps to the dock? And HOW did she get out of the cottage? When I investigated, I found that she'd gone into one of the upstairs bedrooms, pushed on the window screen until it came out of the frame enough for her to squeeze through, and climbed out onto the steep fiberglass roof over the deck. The drop from the edge of the roof to the grass is almost ten feet. She must have slid wildly down the roof, somehow hit the ground without breaking any bones, and ran for the dock. Now that we know how desperate she is to get to the water, dog-proofing the cottage has taken on a whole new meaning. All the bedroom doors upstairs are now kept shut at all times. br>

These berries grow on our cottage property, but we leave them for the woodland creatures to enjoy, as there aren't enough to do anything with them (except paint them.) We also have raspberries, but they are tiny and sparse, so we let the chipmunks have them too.

July 2, 2011

It seems that I'm catching up on pictures I took last year at the cottage. Some visitor had placed this clam shell on the railing going down to the dock. I found a crayfish claw and placed it in the shell. It seemed to show up well that way when I photographed it.

While we were at the lake this week, I scooped a large snail (gross!) up from the bottom with my butterfly net and painted it. I put the snail in lake water in a tupperware bowl and worked quickly so I could get him, or her, back in the lake. So my picture isn't that great. I would have wanted to spend much more time studying the shell. I noticed while I was painting that it only moved a tiny bit. But I put it back in the lake afterwards just in case there might be some life in it. I'll publish its picture soon. I also painted a few more flowers and berries, which I'll show soon.

June 26, 2011

Last summer, after our dog Bruno passed away, some friends came up to the cottage to spend a few days with us. They brought their little dog Dexter with them. Dexter really enjoyed the lake, jumping fearlessly into the water from the side of the dock. I took some pictures of him having fun, and this week I worked one of them up into a painting.

June 18, 2011

This female merganser duck was sitting on the end of the dock one day last summer. I'd never seen one before, so I took several pictures (from the top of the steps, so as not to disturb her) for future reference, then went and got Peterson's Bird Guide. I found out that these ducks roost in trees, and that they have serrated bills to hold onto the fish they catch. I didn't find this bird to be particularly attractive, but it was interesting to identify it. We don't have many ducks on the lake, perhaps because the loons are territorial. I hope she comes back and visits my dock again, even though she made quite a mess. Yes, that is what you think it is.

June 6, 2011

Ever since our trip to Vancouver Island last summer, I've been trying to work out how to paint this picture. I finally decided that, for the delicate layering of colour, and the crisp edges of the shells, a combination of acrylics and watercolours would work best for the effect I was aiming for. We spent eleven days on the island, and this picture was taken one sunny, cool morning on Newcastle Island. These shells had been tossed up on the rocks by the tide, and landed the way you see them. We didn't re-arrange anything. There are cockle shells, mussels, tiny snails, barnacles (they really hurt bare feet!) and smooth rocks. Everything sparkles in the morning sun.

October 5, 2010

This sketch is from a photo I took last spring, somewhere in rural central Ontario. The cows were peacefully gathered around a large bale of hay. I'll be working it up into a painting soon. I'm also working on some pictures from my trip to B.C. this past summer.

October 28, 2009


After my orange koolaid dyeing episode, I tried grape flavour, and made some lovely socks for a friend. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of them, as I've already given them away. I learned what happens when you dye half the yarn a solid colour, and leave half mostly white, with just a few splotches of colour here and there. You get stripes, lots and lots of them.

I've been working on some socks for my daughter, who gave me Judy Sumner's lovely knitting book, Knitted Socks East and West. I decided to make my own version of the fuji pedicure socks, which are shown on the cover of the book, and which have no toes but are perfect for when you're getting your toenails polished, or you just want to wear flip-flops. I chose a stitch pattern out of my stitch dictionary, and I beaded it. The first sock is done, as you can see, and the second one is in progress. Since I'm using acrylic yarn and it's not quite as stretchy as wool, I incorporated some 1x1 ribbing down the back of the leg, and ribbed the heel as well.

I've also managed to whip up a pair of school-playground recess duty wrist warmers, which I designed to fold back so that my fingers can be exposed if necessary, or if it's really cold I can unfold them and cover my fingers, pulling the ends tight with a drawstring, to make them almost like a regular mitten. Of course, my thumbs will still freeze. Oh well.

The third thing I'm working on is a cowl for myself, which matches nothing I own but I already love it a lot, and can't wait to finish it. I probably could finish it soon, if I could just stop making mistakes in the pattern. I'm sure that one of these days I'll get back to some painting, but right now, my free minutes are filled with stitches. The more things I make, the more I think of making!

September 13, 2009

Koolaid Socks

I've finally tried my hand at dyeing yarn, and I thought for something different, I'd post a few photos of the result. I used Patons Kroy sock yarn, which was 75% wool and 25% nylon, in Muslin colour. I wasn't sure what would happen, because of the nylon content, but it picked up the dye really well. First I used my yarn winder to make a centre-pull ball, and then I used the swift to make a hank. I tied the hank in several places to keep it together, laid it out on newspapers, mixed up my kool-aid colours and drizzled them on. I was quite okay with not knowing what the final result would be, but it came out pretty orange, even though I used three different colours, so I guess I'll have to call it "Sunset". The instructions on the internet said to use unsweetened drink mix, but I couldn't find that, so my dyed yarn before I washed it was very sticky and sugary. I gave it a gentle wash, steamed it for a few minutes in the microwave to set the colour, hung it up to dry outside, rewound it back into a ball on the yarn winder, and cast on for socks. It was a fun project and not at all messy, and I will definitely try it again with some different colours. Lime green and blue would be great. Do they still make blue Kool-Aid?

I'm in the drawing stage of a portrait of a lovely little girl. I hope to be finished it in a few weeks.

August 31, 2009

American Toad

There were lots of these American toads hopping around on the grass at my cottage a few weeks ago. Some were wee babies; this one was full grown. I told Larry to swerve around them when he was cutting the grass, and not hit any. One tried to hop under the rocks around our campfire when we were toasting marshmallows. He was determined to get under there but we saved him by pouring root beer on him. He didn't like the root beer bath too much but it probably saved him from a fiery death, as he then hopped away into the bushes. American toads can be identified by the large liver-shaped poison gland behind the eye. I took several pictures of this fellow so I will be doing some more studies of him soon.

July 6, 2009

Friendly Horse

This horse lives at the same farm with all the sheep I painted a while back. She was extremely friendly and came right over to the fence to see me. Then she wandered over to the barn. When I looked through my pictures of her, this was my favourite. I liked it because the wind blowing her mane around gave her a wild and free look, even though in fact she was very tame, friendly and curious.

June 29, 2009

Spring Trillium, Haliburton

Earlier in the spring, there were hundreds of these trilliums blooming in the woods around the cottage. With new camera in hand, I took lots and lots of pictures. I liked this picture just as much for the background of the rotting log and leaves, as for the beautiful flower. They are finished blooming now, and will not appear again until next spring. It is said that if you pick a trillium flower, the plant will not bloom again for another seven years.

The painting of the horse and carriage which I was working on previously (okay, quite a while back) is probably not going to get finished. However, I HAVE completed another horse picture, which I like even better. I'll save it for my next post.

April 11, 2009


March 22, 2009

Trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake

The new camera got to go along the other day when we headed down to Virgil, about an hour from Mississauga, with a load of boxes and packages for our mission in Haiti. Our church district has been collecting household goods for awhile, and one ship's container load has already been sent. Another full container will be ready to go in April. That's a lot of clothes, medical equipment, bedding, and other items, which the people of Haiti desperately need.

Click on the Image to go to the Magazine

After we delivered the boxes to the warehouse where they're being sorted for shipment, we drove to our other destination, Niagara-on-the-Lake, just a few minutes away from Virgil. We had a lovely bistro lunch and strolled around the historic town. There are a lot of shops to tempt tourists, but we stuck to shopping at the bakery and chocolate store. I took some photos of the horse and buggy which you can rent for a riding tour. It was a sunny day, but kind of on the chilly side, enough so that I wished I hadn't left my gloves and hat in the truck. The horse and driver waited patiently, but we didn't see anyone taking a ride. I'm sure business will pick up once the weather is warmer, and there are some leaves on the trees and flowers blooming.

This picture is a sketch, of course, so I wasn't trying to get all the details in the correct places. I'll sort that all out when I get some more watercolour paper.

It's great to have a camera again.

March 7, 2009

In Need of Care

In Vietnam, two street children peer over the half-door of a Word Vision clinic. One appears to have an eye problem. There are many homeless children in Vietnam, suffering from malnutrition, lack of medical treatment and stunted growth. These two have come to a good place for help. But there are many others who are also in need. Street life is very dangerous for them.

I've been without a working camera for quite awhile, but I'll be getting a new one soon, to take along on cottage trips. It has been a peaceful time for Larry, the driver, who likes to just DRIVE. Sorry, darling, but I'm so looking forward to seeing the Ontario countryside through a camera lens again. There are so many lovely farms along the way, with sheep, cows and barns. Prepare to stop!

February 28, 2009

This Much-Loved Pig

The little girl in this World Vision gift catalogue picture is clearly fond of her piglet. But in a few months, when it has filled out and gotten meatier, the little piggy will be going to market. The money her family gets from the sale of the pig will enable them to buy food and send her and her brothers and sisters to school.

February 16, 2009

Colour Rendering

If you compare this finished painting to the sketch in my previous post, you will see that there are a lot of pretty obvious differences. I really thought I was doing a good job of drawing my daughter, but I wasn't, and she pointed that out to me when she looked at my post. In my defense, I was working from a wee little snapshot photo, and it was hard to see the details. If you change even one tiny thing or proportion when drawing a face, then it isn't that person's face anymore. You are then drawing someone else. For the painting, I scanned the photo and enlarged it, and did some measurements, and generally slaved over the thing for about a week. I'll let daughter #2 look at it before I pat myself on the back too much, but I feel pretty confident that I captured her likeness this time.

February 2, 2009

A Little Homesick

Larry and I had gone far, far away for my brother's wedding and our little girls were staying with some loving, caring friends for a week. The girls had a good time, and were looked after wonderfully by our friends, but, well, it just wasn't quite like being at home with mom and dad. Hence the serious look on the face of daughter number two. My friend said she was a great comfort, however, to her older sister, putting an arm around her shoulder when daughter number one would start getting teary. They were extremely delighted to see us getting off that airplane, and there were many, many hugs. There really is no place like home. And no one quite like your own parents.

I'll probably turn this pencil sketch into a watercolour painting sometime soon, but I have to say that working with pencil is very relaxing. No worries; if you don't like something, you just erase it. That's not the case with watercolour, which is decidedly unforgiving when you want to change something.

January 27, 2009

Sea Lions

These are female Stellar sea lions. In the early spring, they migrate up from the California coast and meet the males, which swim down from Alaska. In Nanaimo, B.C., thousands of them loll around on the log booms at the Harmac pulp mill just south of the city. You can see these noisy, smelly, belching, aggressive creatures up close by taking a boat tour out to the mill.

As the boat proceeds south, the captain gives a running commentary about everything you see. You're sure to see plenty of bald eagles, grebes, cormoronts, and maybe a few harbour seals along the way. As you approach the log booms, the cacophony of barking gets much louder. The boat bumps right up against the logs and everyone crowds to the rails to see these wonderful, massive creatures which you could practically touch if you leaned over the rail (don't even think about it!) heaving themselves around on the logs using their flippers, and barking in each other's faces. There are hundreds of them right in front of you, and they really do smell pretty bad, but they are fascinating anyway. The guys at the pulp mill have a hard time getting them to vacate the logs. They use metal rods to get them off. A huge sea lion who has staked a claim on a log boom and doesn't want to give it up can be a very dangerous animal. These animals also know that hungry orcas (killer whales) lurk in these waters too, and it's safer to lie on a log boom with your buddies than hang around in the water.

January 16, 2009

Terminal One - Pearson International Airport

I was going through some stuff the other day and found a photo album with this picture in it. I'd forgotten that I had tucked it away. It's a print of my first commission. I was really pleased to be asked to do it, but definitely nervous that I wouldn't be able to do a good job on it, especially considering all those windows, the spacing of which had to be so precise. Those windows were essentially a math challenge, not an art challenge, and math is not my strong suit. (If my dad, the retired math teacher, is reading this, I'm sure he is nodding his head up and down in agreement right now. In fact, he may be nodding and actually clutching his head at the same time. I am NOT a mathematician.) I remember thinking that I really had no clue how I was going to pull this whole picture thing off, and make it look nice, but I didn't want to admit that, so I just went ahead and did my best, and thought positive thoughts. After all, I'd said I could do it, and so I blazed my way through it. Larry and I went out to the airport early one spring evening so I could see the inukshuk statues up close, and so I could take some extra pictures besides the ones I had been given to use for the painting. The setting sun and clouds were reflected beautifully in the windows, and I included them. The picture was given as a gift to one of the retiring executives of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority. I never heard for sure whether he liked it or not, but I hope he did. I think it turned out okay.

January 1, 2009

Man's Best Friend

Welcome to 2009! Back in the fall, I painted portraits of my friends' dogs, Charlie and Nikki. The finished pictures were a bit big to put in my scanner, but here are the sketches, minus some of the extremities. Charlie is a Beagle, and Nikki is a Shih Tzu.