Around the Bend

Painting of Rocky Mountaineer Tree rounding a bend by Lake Shuswap, AB

Around the Bend – Latest Release!

My husband leaned out from the small platform between coaches to photograph the Rocky Mountaineer gliding around the bend beside Shuswap Lake, British Columbia.         

It was August of 2011. Our first trip out West was in celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary.

After visiting flower-bedecked Victoria on Vancouver Island and the unbelievable Butchart Gardens, we ferried back to the mainland to board the Rocky Mountaineer Train in Vancouver.

Looking it up later on, I found that the lake in this painting, Shuswap, is situated near Salmon Arm. Made up of long bodies of water, it is shaped like an addled letter H, and is one of the most popular recreational destinations in south-central BC.

Something we did not realize was that Canada has desert regions. As we journeyed through barren areas and sagebrush towards Kamloops for an overnight, we were astonished to see irrigation systems spraying out water in order to grow hay!

Aboard the Rocky Mountaineer once again, the mountain scenery we were rolling by—and sometimes tunnelling through—could only be described as SPECTACULAR!

Lake Louise was as lovely as the photos we had seen.

Banff, nestled at the foot of mountains, had a cowboy feeling. Bronze manhole covers were works of art with handsome caribou engraved realistically on them.

Believe it or not, the only large wildlife I saw while going through the mountains was a black bear painted on a road sign! After arriving home and chatting with someone at the St. Jacobs Market, he said that we could have seen all kinds of mountain sheep—the reason I wanted to go through the Rockies in the first place—if we had taken the route to Jasper. Ve git too soon oldt and too late schmart.

View painting on mcdonaldart.com here: http://mcdonaldart.com/prints/landscapes/AroundABend.htm

Brand New Bedtime Story!

Wish you had a new bedtime story for your children . . . one they could escape into right now?

Although the bookstores have been shut down temporarily, you can go to Amazon.ca and look for . . . 

Mrs. Twigadoon is available in paperback and e-book. An audio version is in the works.

The setting of the story is a family campground where Grandma and Grandpa McDeedle become acquainted with the spunky chipmunk, Mrs. Twigadoon. Many lessons can be learned from her narrow escape.

Let your children sing along with the McDeedles’ granddaughter who serenades a bug in a bottle!

Mrs. Twigadoon! Thirty pages long, sparkling with coloured photos!

A Dream Come True

The timing of our walks with Sparkle is governed by the temperature and wind. The woodland’s hospitality ‘chair’ is a bit too cold to make use of today.

Our recently retired son, John, is spending six months on the island he grew up on, Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands. At the moment, he is in Curacao, a guest aboard a catamaran owned by John and Marilyn Dale, Christians from Florida whom he met at church on Bonaire. His lifelong dream of sailing has come true! Prior to setting sail, John gave them a tour of Bonaire and also some PADI scuba diving courses.

Catamaran Lagoon-42 built in France in 2019

John and Marilyn Dale head across the pontoon bridge into Punda, Curacao

John enjoying the tourist gig!

In the meantime, I am working on a 30×24” oil painting of the Rocky Mountaineer Train as it rounds a curve beside Shuswap Lake in B.C. Stay tuned.

Sniff it out

Sparkle’s curiosity amazes and amuses us. When something new arrives, say, on the countertop, she sits and looks up towards it, pops up and down, until you take it and let her sniff it. A sniff is all she wants.

There is something Sparkle wants you to sniff out.  Hopefully, before Valentine’s Day, you will find a new painting put up titled–Around the Bend. My husband and I were aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train in 2011 as it rounded a bend by beautiful Shuswap Lake, Alberta.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

Thank God for November 17

November 17, 1957. That day changed my entire life—Lloyd (now my husband) asked me out for a date!

November 17, 2018, changed both of our lives—the day our son, John, drove us halfway around Lake Ontario to bring a puppy home—a toy breed— a spunky, lovable Papillon/Dachshund/Jack Russell terrier.

She lives up to her name, Sparkle, and serves as the official mascot for Mcdonald Art.

Preparing for her arrival, together with our good neighbour, Mike, we had an aging fence replaced. More fencing followed to keep her out of the rhubarb patch (harmful for doggie palates) and a gate was installed in the cedar-arch entry to the back yard.

The cedar hedging that wraps around the front yard had to be puppy-proofed as well. A short fence was installed around the inside perimeter and a gated arch installed at the beginning of the cobblestone sidewalk. Now the front yard is totally enclosed. We can open the front door whenever she rings an on-the-floor doorbell.

Inner fencing visible

Sometimes she rings the doorbell for other necessities like .  . . . time to play tug-of-war or catch. Ah, yes.

We had a few hair-raising episodes when she escaped out of the kitchen door and tore around the neighbour like a greyhound, barely touching the ground! Thankfully, some younger neighbours helped us coral the unrepentant Sparkle.

When we take a brief siesta after lunch on our La-z-boy sofa with its push-outs on either end, Lloyd scoops her up in his arms. Sparkle takes a siesta, too, between our legs—sometimes switching from one to the other.

Her soft bed is carried up each evening and placed in the hall outside our bedroom door so she can be near us.

Sparkle is serious about earning her keep. She wants you to know that each day, she dutifully manages to take her mistress and master out for a walk on different trails in south Kitchener and in the Homer Watson Woods which our home backs onto.  While she is busy sniffing everything in sight, I’m busy snapping photos. Thank God for November 17!

Test Flight

Yesterday afternoon when I let Sparkle out of the front door, she bounded toward a chair beneath the tree. Up fluttered a fledgeling robin! With a great deal of flapping, he skimmed above the rose bed before his engine conked out and he crash-landed in the cedar hedge.

In a trice, his handsome mother and father appeared, loudly voicing their concern from atop the shepherd’s crook that holds the bird feeders.

Where was junior?

Oh, there he is just outside the rose bed.

Mother Robin flew down and gave him an energy bar of some kind.

Testing out the wonders of being independent, he hopped about the lawn, almost hidden in the tall grass

Now, where was I before that barking blast of white came charging toward me?”

Ah, yes. I was checking out the McDonalds’ new chaise.

“I think this whole episode started when my parents tried to introduce me and my siblings to the birdbaths at McDonalds’. Our beaks were agape in this wicked heatwave and we were all for it. But stay back! My father is a splash-o-maniac . . . and I want to be just like him!

Time’s flying!

Spring has felt more like winter this year, but the calendar insists that June will be here in just six more days. Father Wren arrived a few weeks ago, and the good news is that Cedar Hollow is ringing with joyful rhapsodies—nothing in the minor key, no way.

Cedar Hollow is offering three possible nurseries, two of which are spanking new.  The venerable old Cedar Shake Cottage on the right has been spruced up with a new front entrance.

Unlike previous years, so far, there are no twigs sticking out of any of the houses. Maybe he is going green—using fewer materials this time around.  Less is more.

I wonder if Mrs. Wren will like this nifty model, the Black Diamond?   Clean lines.

But I’m rather fond of all of the greenery near the old Cedar Shake Cottage.

I’d better get back to prepping the nurseries, but I’m just not sure whether I should search for an entirely different bassinette for the gourd house. It’s got me stumped!

Off limits—the rhubarb patch!

It seems that I can’t turn around these days without the camera clicking.

I hate to tell you, but my outdoor potty training has been delayed, and it’s rather embarrassing at my age—almost six months—to have to use a puppy pad.

The problem is, I overheard my folks talking about what they found out this morning when they asked Google to list the names of plants that would be poisonous to me. Rhubarb leaves is one of them. I don’t want to be rushed to the vet to have my stomach pumped out.  And besides, you all know how I hate riding in the car. It makes me gag!

I saw my folks outside this morning with a measuring tape, figuring how much fencing they need to keep me out of the rhubarb and asparagus patch.  As soon the fence is up, my doghouse will go outside, of course.  They seemed to enjoy putting a treat up on the roof and watching me climb the stairs to get it.

You can see from the picture that I’m no longer wearing that stupid looking funnel. It certainly was no Easter bonnet! It scraped along the tile floor whenever I tried to pick up something or stretch out for a couple of winks. Worst of all, it interfered when I needed my paw to hold down a bone. Now, I’m not bragging, but I guess they were pretty proud of me because I didn’t complain about that old plastic thing. Just between you and me, though, it bothered my master to see it on my head.

It’s really too bad that they have to build more fence. Before they chose me for their very own and drove halfway around Lake Ontario to get me, they built fencing and a gate, dug post holes, mixed cement—imagine—just to keep me safe in the backyard!

When Mrs. McD comes downstairs in the morning, she picks me up and carries me to the living room to pull the drapes open and see what the new day looks like. This afternoon, the dove and yellow goldfinch arrived at Cedar Hollow from the south lands!

My folks love it that my breed size is “toy.”  And they really love it that I’m small enough to sit on their lap and keep them company when they have a snooze on the sofa. BTW, I’m a Papillon/Dachshund/Jack Russell mix.

Davi, our special guest from Brazil, is very good at taking me out for a walk around the block, and he protects me from picking up cigarette butts or other stuff I shouldn’t. The problem is, I have to be on a leash. As soon as the rhubarb patch is safely off limits, I’ll be able to stretch my legs and run like a deer in the backyard!  I can’t wait!

Woof! Woof!

Sparkle

 

Gone! 100 feet of skyline loveliness

Working in the flowerbeds at the side of our house, the sunny solitude of Cedar Hollow was broken by the noise of a buzz saw.  Alas!  Two men were on an aerial platform cutting down the beloved white birch tree behind the neighbour’s house across from us.

The nursery the white birch held for baby squirrels would have been abandoned weeks earlier, but what fun it had been when we occasionally saw the black squirrel ascend or descend from its leafy abode!

The beautiful design of the birch’s bare branches was sometimes lit up by the morning sun. Frost, too, added its touch of charm to every twig.

Will we miss this elegant tree?  You bet!

Here is the modified skyline now viewed from Cedar Hollow.

 

 

 

Springtime Blush

Spring seemed to delay its arrival in southern Ontario this year.  However, it only took a few warm days before the buds on the magnolia tree down the crescent began to swell, and soon treated us to a magnificent display of its fragile beauty!

 John and I took pictures from different angles.

This shot is similar to a branch of magnolias in Waterloo that I saw some years back and attempted to capture its loveliness in watercolour.

Take a peek:  http://mcdonaldart.com/florals/magnolias

 

 

 

 

White queen of the woodlands!

Here is one of the patches of trilliums in our garden that you saw in their bud stage in the previous blog.

As lovely as these are, there is nothing like seeing them blooming in their natural habitat.  After a roast chicken dinner together, John set out with us to carry on a Mother’s Day tradition, one I had enjoyed as a child.  Into the woods we headed, the Homer Watson woods, entering from a pull-off on Old Mill Drive, a few minutes from our home.

Before us, reigned the white queen of the woodlands, trilliums—our provincial floral emblem!

One never tires of beholding their pristine beauty―but―such beauty can actually be hung on a wall:

http://mcdonaldart.com/prints/florals/comelyComrades.htm

Partway down the trail, John found a chair with a back on it.

Lloyd and I also enjoyed a pause.

Of course, other spring flowers were discovered―blue, yellow and white violets, dogtooth violets, may apple umbrellas, bloodroots―and my favourite, jack-in-the-pulpit.

 

We didn’t try to dig up any leeks as we had transplanted some last spring into our garden.

More perfect weather, you could not have ordered.

Thanks, Mom, for starting this wondrous Mother’s Day tradition!

 

A 4-day pop-up wonder!

Last fall, I divided a clump of trilliums that was spreading toward the asparagus and started a fresh patch.  Four days ago, I checked the spot where they had been planted.  Bare ground.  Perhaps they didn’t survive the transplant.

The last day of April, the temperature struggled up to 18 degrees. May decided to make her arrival something to celebrate and cranked up the heat to 27!

Checking the same garden patch today, the trilliums had not only poked through, but were in bud!  How is this possible? Two weeks ago, our region was shivering under a 4-5” hard blanket of white stuff—bestowed during a 3-day ice storm of freezing rain, ice pellets, snow, what have you!

The day following that storm, when we were rounding a corner, driving into Cambridge, a frightening loud sound screamed overhead! The load of rock-hard snow on top of the car slid off and careened to the ground!  Thankfully, there was no vehicle to our right.

And now, here in a quiet corner of the garden, a welcome white miracle is happening—a 4-day pop-up wonder!

 

 

 

Scottish sky over Waterloo

 

Have you ever seen the same sky twice?

Sure, you have―whenever the heavenly dome is clear blue and there’s not a cloud in sight. And this can happen any time of year.

On the first warm day of April, the 23rd, there were still large mounds of snow lining the streets of Kitchener, left over from a prolonged ice-and-everything-white siege that beset us the weekend before. But on this day, the temperature soared to 22 degrees, causing us to shed our sweaters when sitting on the back deck.

Driving to Waterloo, I was amazed to see a white and blue Scottish tartan high above us―woven from two vertical jet trails and three horizontal ones.  Spectacular!

Ice Storm’s Tiny Café

Checking on the icy conditions during the three-day ice storm, Lloyd saw a robin leave our front step and scurry along the sleet-covered cobblestones.  I scurried, too, camera in hand, to photograph his footprints through the front window.

Not long afterwards, Lloyd spied the robin back on the porch. In a small patch of grass that had been uprooted by a skunk or some other critter, exposing black soil at the edge of the porch―Robin Redbreast was busy pecking away at his ‘dinner plate!’ The birdfeeder nearby didn’t offer the right menu, thank you very much.

Snow-dusted,  plump Robin Redbreast paused for a moment . . . before heading down the path.  I have a hunch, don’t you, that he won’t forget the tiny café at Cedar Hollow.

“He is not here”

I have never tasted more delicious quiche than the church ladies served on Good Friday at the congregational breakfast. Menfolk were obviously pleased when the volunteers promised to keep making pancakes—and they did! Syrup produced in local woodlots was maple at its very best! Trays of fresh fruit or yogurt cups filled with red and blue fruits were in abundance, together with glazed slices of cinnamon rolls. Such were the gastronomical goodies served at Heidelberg Bible Fellowship—where the sound of Mennonites’ clip-clopping horses is never far away.

The table centrepieces were three weeks in the making. Afterward, young Ezra Koch asked if I would like to have the one he made. How long do you think it took me to reply?

The “Case for Christ” DVD was shown, portraying the life of former atheist and editor of the Chicago Tribune, Lee Strobel. The empty tomb—portrayed by this garden centrepiece—was the key factor in dissolving his unbelief.

This Good Friday marked 25 years since our son Daniel drowned in a canoe accident. The words spoken to Martha in Bethany, Israel, are our greatest comfort:

“Jesus said unto her,

I am the resurrection, and the life:

he that believeth in Me,

though he were dead, yet shall he live:

And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me

shall never die. 

Believest thou this?”

John 11:25-26.

 

Aroma Therapy

 

Someone gave us a teensy sample of maple syrup in a glass jug not more than 3” high.  It now sits on the bathroom vanity.  One of our hostas near the side door produces white, lily-type flowers with a delicate fragrance.  Each morning I pick one of its lilies and deposit it in the little jug.  Throughout the day, I pause to pick it up by its round handle and inhale the lily’s refreshing scent.  A sniff resets one’s core gently, pleasantly―aroma therapy!

2016-08-10-Hosta Lily-Aroma Therapy

False prairie sunflowers are blooming along the backyard fence.  I’m 5’5”.  How tall do you think they are?  Goldfinches enjoy pulling seeds from their golden centres.

2016-08-08-Height of false prairie sunflowers

Too many fires have been in the news lately―Fort McMurray, California, barn fires, and even a local field of wheat―unheard of to us.  A sunset recently enflamed the pines behind us―thankfully only with fiery colour!

Day is done

Gone the sun

From the lake

From the hills

From the sky.

All is well.

God is nigh.

Sweetly rest.

2016-08-06-Sun setting on forest-cr

 

 

 

 

Safe Places to Sip

 

A few days ago while reading in the living room, movement caught my eye.  A hummingbird was sipping from the throats of the blue streptocarpus flowers dangling from a wall planter by the front door.  In and out of the funnel-shaped flowers he went, evidently enjoying each sip.

2016-08-01-best-streptocarpus

The last day of July, we spent the evening on the back deck by the pond with our son, John, enjoying the moderate temperature.  As dusk began, a hummingbird tanked up for the night, sipping its way around the mophead of scarlet bee-balm flowers, one tubular petal after another.  In the daytime, he usually takes only a sip or two . . . and then flies off.  Not last night.  Apparently, hummingbirds need to store enough energy to see them through the night when they remain in an almost stupor state.

2016-08-01-taken July 26-1hummer at bee balm

This morning, we finished our coffee on the back swing, reading one more chapter together in the book “Called Out” by Janet Boynes.  Lloyd saw a chickadee high up in the clump of false prairie sunflowers, safely sipping water from a chalice. If only I had the camera with me!  The large leaves enfold each other where they join onto the square stalk, forming a deep dimple or chalice.

At Cedar Hollow, the chickadees and other birds have several spots to drink from: a stone bird bath in both the front and back yards,  a rock basin in the back yard on the ground next to the steps, and, of course, the pond.  Loveliest of all, though, are the living chalices high up on the green flower stalks.  Can you see the water line near the base of the leaves on the stalk at the right?

2016-08-01-Chalice in false prairie sunflowers

2016-08-01-best close-up from top of chalice

Where do you slake your thirst these days?  With the horrendous, violent events occurring in rapid succession around the globe militarily, environmentally, and politically, have you felt the need of a fortifying drink in some safe place?

Years ago, when a Samaritan woman went for water at a well in Sychar, a Man at the well said He could give her living water.  In the conversation that followed, the identity of the Man became evident. She went back to the city and invited her people to come hear Him themselves. They came. Have you said what they said in John 4:40-42?

 

 

 

Hip, Hip, Hooray!!

When hanging up the freshly filled hummingbird feeder after breakfast, I saw two wrens flying around the Cedar Shake birdhouse on Black Pole Lane.  Does this mean that the dead wren found a few days ago may have been an intruder and not Lord Wren’s partner?  Let’s hope so.

Do you remember when we purchased a Smart car a few years ago that every chipmunk in the neighbourhood had to have a ride in it?  They didn’t exactly ask for one, but that summer, we caught 22 chipmunks in a cage, and taxied them out to their new country digs.

Last year, after Lloyd’s knee replacement, we didn’t resume our limo service.  And guess what?  We didn’t have to!

This morning, shortly after I saw this chipmunk . . . . .

2016-06-20-Chipmunk ready to eat something

. . . . . he was in hot pursuit of a trespassing chipmunk!  Ka-poosh!!  Did he chase him off in a hurry!  There won’t be 22 chipmunks around here this summer!  High-tailer, that’s his name,  has established his home somewhere under the Dutch windmill.  Woe betide any chipmunk who steps his foot inside of Cedar Hollow!  After securing the premises, High-tailer was as thirsty as a camel!

2016-06-20-chipmunk-3 drinks from rock basinHe must have been napping in his burrow when the resident Song Sparrow decided to take a bath in his rock basin, High-tailer’s basin, mind you.

2016-06-18-song Sparrow takes abath in rock basinNot everyone around Cedar Hollow gets all worked up, though.  Often as not, you’ll find Jeremy taking a snooze, dangling his fishing line in the pond.

2016-06-20b-three waterlilies and 1 bud

 

Deadly Terrorist Attack at Cedar Hollow

At 5:45 this morning, I was awakened by the melodious singing of one of our wrens.  A bit later, I heard a red squirrel chattering in its high, squeaky voice, and at the same time, a wren’s low, staccato chut-chut-chut-chut . . . the kind of scolding sound it makes if you walk too close to its home.

I went out right after breakfast to get some cultivating done in the flowerbeds surrounding the pond before the day got too hot.  On the gravel, I made a gruesome discovery.  Lying motionless . . .  dead . . . face down . . .  was a little brown wren!

Did I actually hear the terrorist attack taking place?  Was it the red squirrel?  Or was it one of those wretched trespassing cats???

When Lloyd buried its tiny body in the woods, he noted that one leg was missing.

We heard wren song now and then throughout the day, wondering how he/she could sing after such a tragic loss.  Or was he/she singing–going on line, so to speak–because that is its only way to attract another mate?

Well, the gangplank is up at Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane, and the nursery is furnished . . .  waiting.

2016-06-20-gangplank up & waiting

Question:  Is a wren more valuable than a sparrow?

Jesus speaks in Matthew 10:29-31 – “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”

Stupendous reality.  I wasn’t the only one who saw the little wren on the ground.  God saw it!

And while you try to comprehend that, Jesus continues with these words, which reveal His omniscient mindfulness of you and me:

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear ye not therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

 

Sold!

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That is definitely the wren’s motto.Try as he might, some pieces of lumber just refused to go into his building project, and fell to the ground.

2016-06-10-Y-shaped sticks are a real challenge

 Some choice bits of material were hand picked from beside the steps leading to the pond.

2016-06-10-foraging for twigs

After adding each plank to the gangplank or fetching a pillow or two for the nursery, Lord Wren paused on top of the house to sing!  Now, what would our world be like if construction workers paused frequently to belt out a song?  What if a policeman sang an aria while on the beat?  Mind you, if it was classical music, the streets might be cleared of ne’er do wells.

Lord Wren’s contracting efforts were not in vain.  On Saturday, June 11, Lady Wren arrived at Cedar Hollow.  She inspected the white house nearby, Chateau de la Gourde, but let him know at once that Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane was definitely her choice of residence this year.  See her on the fence?  Lord Wren quickly tacked up the SOLD sign!

2016-06-11-Lady Wren has chosen home

Today was the kind of windy, cold day when a bowl of chili would taste awfully good.  All kinds of birds thought so, too, and took their supper at the front yard feeder:  chickadees, a flock of gold finches, a rose-breasted grosbeak, a mourning dove, song sparrows, cardinals, and a nuthatch.  They are a congenial bunch.  You don’t hear any of them saying nasty things like, “Get your elbows off the table, buddy!”  They just share the diner with whoever flies in.  The wrens don’t join them, however.  They’re not interested in sitting in a pan to eat. They couldn’t sit still long enough, if they tried!  Supper must be FRESH, and caught on the wing!  Oh yes.
2016-06-13-Trio-gold finch, rose-breasted grosbeak, doveThe chipmunk ferrets out any seeds that chickadees accidentally drop as they carry their dinner to a branch on the nearby pear tree to hammer out the nutmeat.

2016-06-13-chipmunk