Waning Winter


Remember when our popsicles were icicles?


Lloyd shot the cedar falls outside of our bedroom window.  Why, we could go into business with all of these popsicles!


While John is on Bonaire for a 9-week vacation, we are taking care of Jasmine.  Our appointment with a vet happened on a day Jasmine would rather forget.  Bundled up in my mother’s soft afghan, it was snowing ‘cats and dogs’ when we left the house.  Can’t you just hear Jasmine singing “O what a beautiful morning . . . everything’s going my way!”


The vet gave her a thorough checkup, and prescribed drops to clear up what may have been an allergy that caused matter to form in her eyes.  Heading out of the Doon Hospital, hail was pounding down fast and furiously!


This whole week has been ideal for the flow of maple sap.  Each night the temperature dips below zero, and then climbs up into the plus range during the day.  It’s wondrous to realize that the tall, bare maples are busy working on their two-month preparations for their spring fashion show.  They usually aim to flaunt their green finery before the 24th of May.

I was busy all day in the studio, painting the background of the stallions.  With the window open a bit, sounds of the outdoors came in. Crows flapped out of the woods, announcing that it was high time they picked up twigs and got started on their nests.  Cardinals whistled, not full throttle, mind you.  They don’t want anyone to know that they might be slightly off key, not having whistled a single note during the long Arctic-like winter.





Stallions on the Canvas!

The sketching work now completed, it’s time to get out the oil paints and brushes.  Day by day, I hope to gradually bring the stallions into 3-D.  I won’t be using black light either, such as the government has so cleverly done on the pages within new Canadian passports.  The horses will appear to breathe by means of colour – shades of colour. First I’ll begin by brushing in an out-of-focus background.  That will save  reworking the edges of the horses later on.


Meanwhile, the chickadees visiting Cedar Hollow are busily focused on keeping their tummies full during this unusually cold winter.  They grab a sunflower seed in their beak, fly over to a branch of the pear tree, and pound out their high-protein meal, clutching the hard-shelled seed between their toes.  When outside, I love to hear the  staccato rhythm!


The powerful beaks of the cardinals make their mealtime a much easier affair.



The HORSES are coming, Ho-Ro, Ho-Ro!

Holding the canvas against the window for light, you can see the outline of the two stallions I will be painting.  Over eight coats of Gesso were applied to the canvas and sanded in between in order to obtain a perfectly smooth surface that will allow fine detail.  (The frame and support bars at back of canvas show through because of the backlighting.)


The next step is tracing the earlier sketch of the stallions onto the smooth surface,  ready to paint . . . ready to bring the majestic horses to life!

Below is a photo of something I have never seen before—a red squirrel out in the snow!  I guess the poor chap has been housebound like the rest of us during what has been the coldest February in 135 years!  Hope he was able to forage enough to get his tummy full this afternoon.  His tail and coat were certainly not in the best of shape.


Never mind.  The local paper showed an official in a photo op yesterday, driving a spigot into a maple tree for sap!  Yes, the great miracle of spring is about to unfold once again . . . even though some of us need to be convinced at this point that we will see such a colour once more as green .



What is the difference between possible and impossible?

After receiving delivery of it, Lloyd was not comfortable with the weight of the custom-made canvas from a Waterloo art store.  He felt there was too much bounce in it.  After speaking with Wyndham Art Supplies in Guelph, he made a trip over there, and ordered replacement of the canvas in a heavier, stronger weight.

The weather could not have been worse when he drove over to pick it up–snow white-outs and strong gusts of wind!  Had the canvas been just ½” longer . . . it would not have been possible to get it into the Smart car!  Mind you, I had to stay home so that the passenger seat could be collapsed in order to accommodate it!


Lloyd and I hauled out several large sheets of boxboard last night.  He wants to construct a cardboard box for the canvas before I get going with the oil paints.  It will be surrounded with lots of bubble-wrap, and then inserted into a sturdy wood box for shipping to Utah – his next project.

In the meantime, a frequent sound you would hear near the studio is the buzz of the electric pencil sharpener as I work on sketching the two stallions onto paper.  Hopefully, that will be completed early next week.  Their outline will be transferred onto the canvas, ready for the next stage.

Mother and father cardinal brighten our wintry front yard whenever they fly in for a seed break . . . or a dinner of high-protein nutmeats!  When you were a kid, did your mother ever tell you at the dinner table not to talk – but to get eating?  It’s quiet here around the bird table as well.


Shunted Off to the Siding

The sketch you saw earlier of a train winding through the Canadian Rockies is just that, a sketch.  It will have to remain that way for a while.

Our son John’s expertise on the web allowed ranchers in Utah to view my painting of Secretariat close up. That resulted in their commission to paint two very beautiful stallions, one black, and one sorrel.  The nose-to-nose pose of the horses melts your heart, and gives you that All is right with the world feeling.  Both horses have black manes.  It will be a challenge to do justice to such harnessed might and beauty. The canvas has been custom ordered to fit into a large frame above a stone fireplace in the cherry-wood library of their new home.  I’m hoping our Smart car doesn’t get its nose out of joint when it sees the canvas being delivered.

It was a relief to read in the Record this past week that a Christian-principled university in Edmonton, King’s University, has offered Omar Khadr admission as part of his bail application.  They developed a relationship with him over the past six years.  As you will read below, the vice president of King’s stated:  “This completely matches what we’re about:  Our mission is about inspiring and educating learners to be agents of reconciliation and renewal.”

It says a lot for this young man that his lawyer, Dennis Edney, has offered to foot the bill at King’s University.  Has it not been nauseating for so many years to read about the prolonged miscarriage of justice in this case that began when he was fifteen? https://ca.news.yahoo.com/educating-omar-khadr-just-doing-christian-university-says-162942011.html

We know a man who was a professor at King’s University  some years ago.  He happened to reconnect with us by email just this past week, which brought us great happiness.

John has had a busy, totally enjoyable first week on Bonaire once again, diving, touring, and working with the Worldwide Christian Scuba Divers.

John w. WCSD-Feb.6-15 at one thousand steps_n

Can you see the propeller of the Hilma Hooker which lies on the sea floor off the south end of the island?  A special partition had been built in it where tons of marijuana was concealed.  No one wanted to claim it as theirs . . . and somehow . . .  it sunk to the bottom!

John took WCSD to Wilma Hooker-Feb.6-15_n

Meanwhile, we are taking care of John’s Tonkinese cat, Jasmine, who has been on her best behaviour.  She has found every register in the house!


What a cat!  She even tucks herself into bed!  See that bulge?  It moves!

When John stopped in at Addo’s Bookstore on Saturday, he found that so far they have sold over 300 copies of Colour the ABCs. It is delightful to think of little people in many parts of the world colouring away with their crayons . . .  trying to stay within the lines of goats and lizards, salt mountains and pink flamingos!

John with COLOUR THE ABCs at Addo's-Feb. 6-15_n

For 20 years, Bonaire’s marine park has been designated as the best shore diving location in the world, attracting top divers to its reefs.  This year it won three more awards:


The best diving photo place
The best macro-diving location
Bari Reef was rated the most diverse dive site in the Caribbean!


With all of these accolades, would you like to see Bonaire’s reefs up close?  Follow John’s daily write-ups.  Do take a moment to let him know you’re going along on his dives.


Go to –   www.twitter.com/johnapollos





Back Home

In all the hurry-scurry involved with leaving his condo in tip-top shape for someone subletting it in his absence, John dashed over to McDonalds to grab a Big Mac.  When he drove up to the window, he heard the words, “No charge.  Someone paid it forward for you!”  What an uplift!

The final thing on his agenda last night was to safely bestow his beloved cat, Jasmine, a Tonkinese, into our care, taking time to cuddle her, and to repeat what he always says when they part, “I’ll be back.  I’ll be back.”

John was up at three this morning to catch a taxi to Pearson International Airport, flying to Houston, Texas, for a connecting flight on United to Bonaire.

“You’ve had a long vacation in Canada, and now you’re back home!

That is how the propietor of Prikichi Residence greeted John when she picked him up from Flamingo Airport .  In his phone call, he said, “And that’s how it felt.” John rented the same apartment that he had last year.

Bonaire lies just off the north shore of Venezuela (orange letters)

bonairecarib area

The next map shows the three islands often referred to as The ABCs.  (Whoops!  Someone stuck an extra “n” in Bonaire.)


The Bonairian flag waves proudly from all government buildings.

Bonaire flag

Kralendijk, the capital of Bonaire, has many sailing vessels bobbing in its turquoise bay, and welcomes cruise ships from around the world.


Is it any wonder Bonaire has become one of the top diving locations in the world?

Sponge vases2-cr-1024-Two gorgeous pinktall-lucky-crJoannaScuba

Our daughter, Dr. Joanna McDonald (2012)

Jn and sea fans-2014

John in 2014 taking courses to become a Master Scuba Diving Trainer

John will be purchasing an underwater camera to replace the one that broke off of his equipment last year.  Lloyd and I are looking forward to seeing more of the wonders of the deep that call John back year after year.  Stay tuned!

Copy of Sea fans & purple fish-cr


Dream Come True

A colouring book which I created about the unique Island of Bonaire and her sister islands of Aruba and Curaçao has now been published by Addo’s Books.  The small islands are located in the Caribbean off the northwest coast of Venezuela, South America.  My husband and I served with TWR for 11 years on Bonaire, during which time our three children were educated completely in the Dutch language.  Each of them became avid scuba divers.

John recently obtained his PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer certification, and returns to Bonaire for 9 weeks on January 31, 2015.  He is delighted to now be a member of Worldwide Christian Scuba Divers Organization (WCSDO – wcsdo.org).  Forty eight of their members will be on the island the first week of February, assisting in construction of an addition to the International Bible Church and other missionary work.  In fact, 11 of the divers will be on the same flight from Houston TX as John!  They will give him a WCSDO T-shirt when they meet.  When John booked his vacation months ago, he had never heard of the WCSDO.  How do you explain the timing of their flights?

Below is Addo Stuur’s online promotion of my colouring book, Colour the ABCs:

addo_logo Addo’s Books, Toys, Office Supplies

Kaya Grandi 36 – P.O. Box 465 | Kralendijk, Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles  Tel: 717 6618 / 786 1418



4 talen
4 lenga
4 languages
4 idiomas

$ 4,95

Bo ke rondia un keuba di pirata?
Bo ke mira un piská drumi den un mea di sleim transparente?
Pinta bo kaminda dor di e islanan eksitante A B C Aruba, Bonairu, Korsou!
E buki aki a wordu traha net pa bo dor di Eleanor McDonald di Kanada ku a biba riba e isla B for di ana 1973 pa 1984.

Kun je een rovers hol vinden?
Wil je een vis zien slapen in zijn bel?
Kleur alles van de interessante ABC eilanden: Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao!
Dit boekje is speciaal gemaakt voor jou door Eleanor McDonald uit Canada, die op B woonde van 1973 tot 1984.

Want to find a pirate’s cave?
Want to see a fish sleeping in a bubble?
Colour your way through the exciting ABC islands: Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao!
This book was created just for you by Eleanor McDonald from Canada, who lived on the ‘B’ from 1973 to 1984.

¿Quieres encontrar una cueva de piratas?
¿Quieres ver un pez durmiendo en su burbuja?
Colorea tu camino a través de las emocionantes islas ABC: Aruba, Bonaire, Curazao!
Este libro estuvo creado especialamente para ti por Eleanor McDonald de Canadá.





28 pages


200 Years Ago

Yesterday, Sunday, January 11th, marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir John A. Macdonald.  Stephen Harper paid tribute to Canada’s first prime minister by saying the Scots-born politician “forged Canada out of sheer will.”

Macdonald’s political career as a Kingston alderman began the year the cornerstone of Kingston City Hall was laid, 1843, and after his death, the first prime minister of Canada lay in state in the same room where Harper delivered his remarks.

Sir John A. Macdonald close-up

A gifted sculptor from Wellesley, Ruth Abernethy, created his likeness in bronze, which is temporarily on display in the Kitchener Auditorium, home of the Kitchener Rangers. (Some hockey fan had the audacity to put one of the team’s shirts on Sir John A.!)

John standing with Sir John A. Macdonald

Our oldest son is named John A. McDonald, and always signs his emails and correspondence with John A. In fact, he gets a kick out of using this as one of his email addresses:  sirjohnamcdonald@gmail.com

Of course, there is a slight difference in the spelling of the last name, but for some strange reason, everyone thinks the prefix of our surname is spelled with an “a” and not just a “c.”

When people meet my husband for the first time and hear the surname McDonald, sometimes they jest, “You’re not Sir John A. Macdonald, are you?”  Lloyd replies with a straight face, “No.  I’m his father.”

Sir John A. Macdonald’s history and accomplishments are engraved on the backs of the two chairs he stands beside.  The installation is called “The Conversation.”  As you thank God for the blessings you enjoy in Canada . . . sit a spell . . . and read what is engraved on the back of the two chairs Sir John A. Macdonald stands between.  Find out what this remarkable man did to make Canada one of the best countries to live in.

Writing on Sir John A. Macdonald left chair

Writing on Sir John A. Macdonald chairs



Forty Winks – 2014-11-15

Do you sometimes wish you could step off the modern-day treadmill of busyness, info overload, news of war and violence . . . into a quiet woods somewhere? a sheltered, comfy spot where you could just sit and read . . . or catch forty winks?

This hunter has found such a spot!  His faithful black and tan coon hound makes sure he is undisturbed.

Lloyd’s latest sculpture will be available on our website in time for Christmas gifting, and also at Studio 1291, Cambridge (Preston) 602 King Street East at Argyle.

Gazing at Forty Winks will slow you down, give you that good-old-days feeling . . . while lowering your blood pressure  .




All Aboard! 2014-11-09

Nearing the completion of a painting, I  experience a bit of restlessness, wondering what to paint next.  I spent a few days on the computer going through photos taken during our trip out West in the summer of 2011.

Lloyd and I boarded West Jet at the Regional International Airport situated on the eastern outskirts of Kitchener.

001-Wat.Reg.Airport, WestJet,Aug.8-11

Due to headwinds, our arrival in Calgary was later than expected.  We barely had time to catch the next flight to Vancouver.

I loved the smartly trimmed cedar hedging around many homes in Vancouver. It wasn’t the white swamp cedar which surrounds our home (named Cedar Hollow).  The leaves on these tall hedges were finer.  And how exciting it was to see palm trees!

In the ferry we took over to Vancouver Island was a long transport housing show horses on their way to a competition.  They stuck their beautiful heads out of their stalls, and enjoyed a handful of fresh hay from  their handler.

Butchart Gardens in Victoria taught me something I’ll never forget!  Make sure to have two camera batteries on hand!

013-L entering garden

Clicking Butchart’s unimaginable beauty constantly, my camera ran out of steam just as we entered the Rose Garden.  I could have cried . . . .

The magnificent parliament buildings and the impressive Empress Hotel were designed by a young Dutchman who stood in marble on a monument, blueprint papers under his arm.  Inspiring sayings were embedded on many of the stained glass windows throughout the parliament buildings.

044-Parliament - Inspiration - 8

Placed in the landscaped grounds of the ornate parliament buildings was the statue of a young Queen Victoria, so different from the matronly one in our city.

038-Young Queen Victoria;Captn.Geo.Vancouver

Hanging baskets of flowers were everywhere in Victoria.  Unusual evergreen specimens bowed their heads and drooped their arms on either side of the entry to the  Empress Hotel.

034-Splashes of colour everywhere!

Returning by ferry to Vancouver, we were fascinated by jellyfish pumping their delicate, frilly selves about in the huge aquariums.

051-Aquarium- Jellyfish

Awesome redwoods in old Stanley Park!

058-Stanley Park - Hollow Redwood-L

Booking into a hotel, we received an unpleasant jolt in the form of a letter handed to us by the concierge.  It was from the Rocky Mountaineer Railway we were to board in the morning.  They advised us that due to a strike they were experiencing, management would be standing in.  Picketers were in plain view as the “All aboard!” call rang out.

064-a-Train ride began this way

Although they tried their very best, management could not possibly relate all of the anecdotes of information that the regular train attendants would have, and often could not prepare us ahead of time to be ready to click a spectacular scene that was coming up just around the bend.

If we were doing it again, we would not have chosen the Redleaf cars, but the more costly ones with the upper domes, the ones which served hot meals.  Also, we would have taken the route that goes to Jasper instead of to Banff. The only wildlife I saw was painted on a sign, “Beware of Bears!”  At the local market, after returning home, a man waiting in line for some ground beef was from the West, and said that the Jasper leg of the trip would have guaranteed viewing bighorns, something I had really wanted to see.

Nonetheless, reading between the lines, you must have guessed that we snapped lots of beautiful scenes . . . given that it took a two-day sort to decide on the next painting!

What size is the canvas?  30” wide by 24” high.  Sketching, the fiddly part, is mostly over, and next week begins the fun of picking up the paint brushes!

Come along with us as the engineer slows down to take the curve to the right!


Ever been encouraged by spooks? – 2014-11-03

Gentle rains seemed to come so easily this fall, almost daily, in fact.  On the last day of October, a robin rested momentarily in the pear tree where he had been showering in the rain, fluttering his wings about as if he were in a bird bath.  Refreshed, he was soon off to catch up with his kith and kin, headed for the distant  southlands.

Robin in pear tree

The previous Hallowe’en, I received my “tricks” at Cambridge Memorial Hospital, having my thyroid removed that morning.  Our porch light wasn’t turned on for the little trick-or- treaters as my husband and son were up visiting me in the hospital, making sure I had enough ice chips to suck on.

This year, our porch light was on once again, welcoming the neighbourhood children.  We took turns answering the doorbell.  As I handed out bags of potato chips and chocolate bars, a couple of boys around ten said, “We like your bushes!” (hedge circling the front yard).  “Happy Hallowe’en!” they chorused as they headed down the cobblestone walk.  On another of my turns at the door, a witch about twelve years old, said, “I like your wallpaper!”  Whoever heard of witches liking pretty things?

By 7:30, our stores of candy were depleted.   Off went the porch light, and on went a sense of gratitude for the unusual encouragement we had experienced.  I don’t think any of the trick-or-treaters, short or tall, forgot to say Thank you either.

The temperature went up to eleven this afternoon, making it an ideal time to bury some miracles around Cedar Hollow.  One thing is sure, they won’t stay buried.  Their hiding place will be exposed  come spring!

Bulbs of a dozen red tulips were pushed gently into a bed dug six inches deep beside the pond.  An inch of soil was sprinkled over their pointy noses, and then a piece of wire mesh was pressed carefully down before filling up their bed with soil.  Hopefully the wire mesh will put the wild moving company from the adjacent woods out of a job, and the tulips will bloom next spring . . .  where they were planted.  Don’t squirrels know that a clump of tulips is a lovely thing . . . but a single tulip popping up in the woods or in the middle of the lawn looks, well, kind of stupid?

White narcissus with pink trumpets and blue hyacinths were put into the sidewalk garden, all of them preparing to pull out of the black earth heavenly scents next May.  How?

Narcissus bulbs in hole

Five white snow drops were moved to a new location.  Their tiny heaters will baffle us once again as they melt their way through icy snow in early April.  Crocuses will unfurl soon after, splashing pure gold about, coaxing skinny bees to come get the energy drink they have prepared just for them.


Not Timbits but Pearbits! 2014-10-28

Late frost, brisk winds and rain have left many trees bereft of their leaves.  In plain view now are hundreds of tiny pears on the ornamental pear tree in our front yard.  As a result of the frequent rainfalls, it grew by leaps and bounds this summer.  It grew so much, in fact, that a grey squirrel was able to leap from one of its branches onto the bird feeder last Saturday, sending the chickadees into a tizzie!! John and Lloyd moved the feeder closer to the living room window and out of his reach.  Before the feeder’s final position got a “thumbs up” signal, I went into the house and did a Goldilocks thing:

I sat on Lloyd’s spot on the sofa . . . . .

. . . . . and then I sat on mine!

Both of us must be able to easily view the feeder.  We often eat lunch on the sofa, and enjoy the company of the birds.  Lloyd was surprised to see some juncos yesterday.  They don’t usually stop by until late winter.

A warm, steady rain fell this afternoon.  Once when I looked out, a pair of plump, black squirrels were busy in the pear tree.  They feasted on the tiny pears . . . and washed them down with an unbottled beverage . . . rain.


They often put their ‘umbrellas’ up – large, fluffy tails – which covered their backs!

After combing through photos we took during our trip out West a few summers ago, I settled upon the next painting.   I’ll feature its sketch when that is done . . . and then the development of the painting on the blog as things progress over the coming weeks.  What will it feature?  From which province?  You’ll have to check back.


Rambling River Song

In between doing the week’s laundry this Saturday, I spent the day in the studio beneath the skylight.

During the past few days, we have been bantering titles about, and finally settled on Rambling River Song.  Listen, and see if you can hear the river gurgling bravely along in spite of the encroaching ice.

I thought the painting was done before noon, and placed it on an easel across from us in the living room where Lloyd and I could critique it while enjoying a sandwich in our lazyboys.  Lloyd didn’t like the looks of the rocks showing through the snow toward the bottom of the arch on the left.

“Kind of looks like a salamander, doesn’t it?” I said, amused, and was soon headed back into the studio to wipe it out.

If you go back to the previous blogs, you will note quite a change took place this week below the arch.  John brought it to my attention that he was having trouble with that area.

“Maybe I’m just not seeing it right,” he graciously remarked.

Oh, oh.  I knew that meant I had to go back and review the  reference material.  Foolishly, I liked what I saw in another photo, and got the perspective all out of whack by painting that into this!  “Thanks, John!  I pulled the river out of the sky.”

The inspiration for Rambling River Song came from the old stone arch above Blair Creek not more than five minutes from our home.  I photographed it several times in both summer and winter.  May this simple arch from yesteryear give you pleasure . . . and peace.



Put out for adoption – 2014-10-17

Today Lloyd and I managed to get the allamanda vine in its large container into the cargo area of the Smart car – no small feat.  A potato sack containing a clump of the large cala lily plant sat beside it.

Destination?  Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory.


Their naturalist, Lucy White, previously agreed to take the plants and relocate them in  their tropical environment.

The allamanda (or golden bells) had done well in our garden during the summer of 2013, and was carefully coddled beneath a skylight over the winter.  It was obviously stressed by this year’s cold summer, with temperatures often dipping down to 10 Celcius.  The waxy-leaved vine simply could not muster the heart to form even one measly bud.

Raindrops 2 flowers & 3 buds

(Photo of golden bells in our garden in 2013)

The giant cala had thrived in the living room this winter, delighting us with its attractive leaves.  Set out into the garden, it begrudgingly produced one bloom during the whole cool summer.  Previously when fall came, I dug the cala out, shook the dirt off its roots, and let it dry out and rest in the basement.  Come March, I potted it up, and it shot forth new leaves at an incredible rate.  However, by keeping it growing throughout the winter, I thought it would be off to the races when set out in the garden . . . but it, too, longed for a warmer clime, and just sulked.

Cala Lily 1

(Photo of cala lily taken in our garden during a warmer summer)

A kindergarten class, wearing paper crowns with butterflies on them that they had coloured, were visiting the butterfly conservatory this morning.  We have never seen so many butterflies during any of our previous visits, and were delighted to see the iridescent blue morphos flitting here and there.


The resident tortoise was swimming among the large goldfish instead of napping on a rock.  We saw him snacking on a butterfly that had fallen into the pond after its brief sojourn had ended.

One of the bird of paradise plants had grown right up to the ceiling, and at first glance, looked much like a banana tree.  Beautiful hibiscus, single and double, brightened the tropical vegetation, tiny quails scooted about, birds flitted among the foliage, and one white butterfly, its large wings etched with black veins, landed right on Lloyd’s nose almost as soon as we entered!  Welcome, Lloyd!  Glad you came!

Red dogwood, a burrowing river, good news from afar, and a peek inside the mother mould

1-P1250427Red dogwood now brightens the left foreground.  Snow-bonnetted teasels bend on their tawny stems.  (Shadows will be added later after the snow has dried.  Whoever heard of snow drying?)

Milder temperatures have freed up some of the river, but not all, as it burrows beneath its icy coverlet.

I’m looking forward to painting the snow-daubed brush on the right knoll and bank in the  coming week.

Does the fluffy snow almost make you feel like sticking out your tongue . . . waiting for a snowflake or two to fall on it?  Only those who have lived in or visited colder climes could possibly feel this way.

Good news from a far country !  Addo’s Bookstore on Bonaire in the Caribbean Netherlands emailed me proofs of Colour the ABCs this week, a colouring book which I created about the tiny island.  It is being printed in Holland, and should be available in his store in another month.  Hopefully, tourists will pick it up, bringing tons of fun to little people in North America and Europe as they colour iguanas, goats and flamingos, and  learn about the unique semi-desert island off the north coast of Venezuela, South America . . . the island I never heard about in school.  Did you?   Its captions are in four languages:  Papiamentu, Dutch, English, Spanish.  The queen angel fish on the cover, John’s favourite fish on the reef, glides gracefully above the coral, wearing her jewelled crown.


Let’s head downstairs and see what Lloyd has been up to.

He has removed one section of the mother mould, revealing the rubber mould it supports.



It was a nerve-wracking procedure to cut the rubber mould open without marring the plasticene original inside!



This is the stand Lloyd built to support the mother mould, which securely cradles the rubber mould inside of it.  Lloyd is ready to cast the first reproduction of “Forty Winks.”


Mother Mould and Cedar Clump

As you saw in the last blog, layers of liquid rubber were applied in alternating colours of blue and white so Lloyd could tell where he left off when brushing on each new layer.  After the last coat of liquid rubber, he left it to cure overnight.

Now it was time to study its contours carefully in order to determine the location of the sections of the supporting mother mould that must be made.  Each piece would be a solid, unbending plaster cast about half an inch thick which must be able to be removed without locking in the rubber mould beneath. Lloyd marked lines on the rubber, to delineate the boundaries of the three mother mould sections.

Lloyd prepares the final third section of the mother mould, inserting fibreglass strips to provide additional strength.


The completed mother mould is left to dry.  The third section is at the back.

Meanwhile, up in the studio, the three sticks on the right side of the arch have donned their robes of fragrant cedar, ornamented with sticky snow.

Wild redwood bushes and weeds will soon appear in the left foreground.  The river has only been washed in, but will have to wait for more attention until after the redwood has arrived.  Snow-laden brush will sprout on the right, gloried here and there by sunbeams.  Please don’t shiver . . . but mix up a cup of hot chocolate instead, and dream of sleigh bells in the snow.

Musical chairs with paintings, and a new sculpture

The original of Brown Wings (in Wildlife category) is now available on our website.

Two of the Newfoundland originals may be purchased through Westmount Gallery, Toronto:  Gros Morne and Splashing Thru the Crags (see the Seascapes section).  Note that there are a total of five paintings in the Newfoundland series.

Lloyd has completed his sculpture of a hunter sleeping by a stump with a black and tan coon dog at his side.  He is in the process of making a rubber mould and then will fashion its mother mould in order to reproduce it.


I believe Lloyd is going to title it, “Forty Winks.”   It will soon be available in three different versions:

As a base for a lamp

As book ends

As a centrepiece to enjoy.

First of the cedars to arrive! – September 17, 2014

A lot has happened since I last blogged after the wrens fledged and left Cedar Hollow.

Threatening to do so for a few months, my old computer finally died. Its new replacement kicked the bucket in just two weeks!  What a shock!  Back to Best Buy again.  I am presently struggling with the frustrations of Windows 8.1, so enrolled in a brief computer course.

On the brighter side of things, it is rejuvenating to retreat into the studio, enjoying the wonderful light that comes in through the skylight.  Notice the cedar tree on the left side of the arch.  Hopefully the sticks on the other side will become elegant cedars by the end of the week.

2014-09-16-Blair Stone Arch

Stay tuned!

He, she, they got their wings! – August 15, 2014

All was quiet around Cedar Hollow today, too quiet.  When I did some weeding and dead-heading, there was no action around the Swiss Chalet.  I turned off the falls to listen.  No cheeping for food.

Aug.15-14-Cedar Hollow

The winds chased white clouds across the blue sky, and waved the black walnut tree’s boughs back and forth.


There was no use asking the tired little fisher boy if he knew where the wrens were.  He was fast asleep.


During an afternoon break on the swing, the garden clock’s hands moved along ten minutes, 15, 20, with still no flash of brown wings to be seen.

After supper, Mr. McD and I spent some time on the swing, with the camera at the ready.  Judging by the fairly wide beak of little Duke Wren the 1st, I thought it would be another whole week before their departure.

The previous overnight temperatures were so low that Mr. McD and I hauled out our winter sleepwear and turned on the furnace.  Did the little wrens perhaps die of pneumonia? Did a cat catch their parents?  Oh such dreadful thoughts.

But then, remembering back to the baby cardinals last year, they left the nest just wearing blue pin feathers!   We couldn’t believe they were ready, but leave it they did.

Let’s think positively now.  Last night, both Lord and Lady Wren were making trips to the nest at an accelerated pace – it seemed to be every few minutes.  They must have been preparing the youngsters for flight tests they planned to hold at the crack of dawn.    

Bounce the Hummer came by and sat on the clothesline for several minutes, which was most unusual for him to do.

P1250201 I think he tried to tell me not to worry . . . that the young wrens got their wings this morning . . . and flew off into the wide, wonderful world!

Why didn’t I ask him how many there were?  Was it he, she, or they who graduated from Cedar Hollow’s flight school?  Just look at its impeccable runways!

P1250210 If he, she, they swing by to show me his, her, their diplomas, I’ll try my best to get their photograph.  That’s a promise!

And so concludes the tale of . . . A Summer at Cedar Hollow.

(Hopefully, in the future, this little tale will be available in e-book form and paperback.  Now I’ll go back to what I was supposed to be doing in the first place . . . blog on the progress of my current painting, THE BLAIR STONE ARCH.  Stay tuned.)

You keep the covers on! – August 14, 2014

The song sparrow says it all as she tests the water with her toe.  “It’s too cold for me!” 


I took her picture while sitting on the lawn swing wearing a hooded jacket and sipping on a cup of hot chocolate!  Br-r-r-r!  The temperature only reached  16, and the winds gusted up to 50 kph, swinging the Swiss Chalet up and down and rocking it from side to side.  It truly was a Rock-a-bye baby in the treetops kind of day! 

But family duties must be taken care of no matter how abnormal the weather is.  Father Wren delivers some hot oatmeal porridge to little Duke Wren the 1st.  That should warm him up!

Aug.14-14-Father to son

“Now, you keep the covers on,” reminds Lady Wren before she exits.  “I don’t want you catching a cold.  Remember, Mrs. McD personally knit these afghans for you darlings.”


Well, I mustn’t take that much credit . . . but I did plant the flowers and hostas around Cedar Hollow.  Lady Wren found a wilted hosta leaf or two that were just the right size to use as soft coverlets for her babies.  You know, of course, that there’s no fireplace in the Swiss Chalet, so layering is the thing to do.

The prairie-sunset-false-sunflowers were playing peekaboo today by the Cedar Shake birdhouse on Black Pole Lane!


Buzz the Bumblebee doesn’t let a chill wind stop him.  No, Sir!  He’ll work the cone flowers until the backpacks on his legs are full and running over!


After supper, who should visit Cedar Hollow but Bar Code, the Red headed Woodpecker!  He managed to squeeze into the front-yard bird feeder far enough to get a toothsome black-oil sunflower seed.  He prefers to unwrap his meal on the tree trunk. 


A young female cardinal, a nuthatch, and a pair of goldfinches also came in to pick up their bedtime snacks!