Buried Treasure – Pure Gold!

During the first January thaw, I got the shovel out and buried two buckets of sizable gold nuggets, about 14 of them.  These are the old fashioned kind of nuggets that come with an inexplicable time-release feature, so it won’t do any good to come hunting for them now. The only way I was able to dig down about half a foot in mid-January is because I chose two locations right beside the foundation of the house.  (I shouldn’t have given you that much of a clue.)

Rose blanket Jan. 25-2014Speaking of buried treasure, see the pompom on top of the wool hat in the left of the photo?  (The  bird bath is under the pompom.)  Beneath that big, soft hat,  roses are fast asleep, dreaming of springtime, dreaming of twittering birds that will come to drink and bathe in their midst.  When two of those roses wake up, they will display blossoms shaped like golden goblets that have fire in their hearts, fire stored now in the depths of the earth.

How far can you count?

After the pre-Christmas ice storm, I opened our side door  to take the mail in.  The pointed evergreen that sticks six feet above a neighbour’s roof caught my eye.  It was bedecked with stars!!  It really was!  I ran inside for the camera.  The afternoon sun caused each icy tip of the spruce to twinkle brilliantly like a star!  What a sight!

'Lighted' tree-Dec.24-13

A few years ago, Lloyd built a yard-high star and outlined it with a rope of white lights.  From atop the miniature pear tree, it beamed its reminder to passersby at Christmas that it was a star in the heavens many years ago that informed wise men in the East of the birth of a Jewish king. They knew from this special star that He was none other than God incarnate.  We read that when they finally arrived after a long journey, they “worshipped Him.”

One of the greatest understatements in all of literature is found on the first page of the Bible in the sixteenth verse: “He made the stars also.”

Today we are constantly learning that the Hubble telescope and other such instruments are still finding galaxy after galaxy that they hadn’t seen before.

Can you grasp the wonder of Psalm 147:4?  “He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names.”

How many names can you come up with?


A Star

Could anything possibly fascinate a child more than stars?

I’ll never forget seeing the Star of the East move across the darkened ceiling of our little country church one Christmas. Three young men in regal apparel, with shiny gifts in their hands, slowly followed that marvellous star, singing “We Three Kings.”  I felt like it was actually happening!  (Little did I know, as a youngster, that it was just the beam of a flashlight!)

Hoping to share the wonder of that night with other little people, I pulled together a similar enactment when our seniors were asked to participate in this year’s Christmas program.

The afflictions of old age narrowed the possibilities down to three candidates, and, thankfully, each of them was willing to participate. Their wives did a stunning job of wrapping their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  The words of the Carol were affixed to the back of the gifts so they didn’t have to memorize them.

Lloyd patiently sat still while I pulled a stocking cap on his head to form the base for a turban fashioned out of flashy scarves from the thrift store.  A strand of pearls adorned one turban, and others were bejewelled with glitzy earrings and gold chains. Two of the men found housecoats at the thrift store that suited their girth, and one rounded up a pair of sandals.

A practise session was held a few evenings before the program took place.  We had a capable pianist.  A young technical man rigged up a striking star that he could move along on a cable high above the auditorium.

On the evening of the concert, the auditorium lights were dimmed.  The pianist began the introduction. The regally apparelled men sang the ancient words together as they advanced, following the dazzling star. By the time the seniors got to the front, one of them, who had a hearing impairment, could not remember which verse they were on, and wasn’t able to hear the wise man next to him, so he began singing the verse about gold all over again! The others could do nothing but follow suit.

I trust the gorgeous beaming star and the wise men’s apparel covered up the glitch somewhat, and that the children will carry the memory with them of that royal star . . . and why it shone.

Incredible Timing

With the first light snowfall on Friday, the Canada Goose who had taken up residence temporarily in our basement, declared that the snow was his cue to head south!  He wished his cohorts a Merry Christmas, not expecting to return until March 1st.

I was up at 4:00 this morning to see John off. He was driven to the Toronto airport by a fellow Grand River Transit operator, Chris. You have probably guessed by his wonderful countenance that Chris is also a Christian.

John  en route airport -1024-Nov9-13

About a year ago, John began planning this epic vacation.  He stacked the 2013 and 2014 vacations back to back, worked statutory holidays, etc., to pull together a four-month stretch of vacation.  His goal:  To take courses on Bonaire in order to become a certified scuba diving instructor.  As you realize, John’s childhood spent on Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands, introduced him to the WONDERS OF THE SEA, and he fell completely in love with it.

In preparation for the upcoming three-month course, John took in-the-lake and on-land instruction this summer, studied several challenging manuals, and completed tests online.  He hopes to finish the reading material while in flight today. When he takes early retirement in about ten years, John wants to utilize the scuba diving instructor skills to finance future vacations and see the world.

What could not have been planned were events unknown one year ago.

John rented out his condo from October 1st until the end of February, and came to live with us for October until today.  When I was scheduled for surgery to remove my thyroid on October 31st, John was here to help out, which was truly a godsend.  His benefit package allows one week per year to help family members if a medical need arises.  My recovery has been going along very well, and I have been thoroughly enjoying the pampering by my menfolk!

Just as John completed his scuba studies online on his computer in the basement, I realized what a perfect opportunity was now available to use his computer’s InDesign program to input a book about our Bonaire experience which I’ve been working on.  It would be too expensive for me to buy such a program, and my aging computer would not have the gumption to handle it anyway.  John had me watch tutorials yesterday, and then sat down last night to coach me . . . and now the project is underway!  I was able to input the first three chapters this morning.

John also joined his Dad as the two of them carried out chimney sweep work!

Chimney Sw-crop-1024-Nov4-13 During the past week, John patiently coached his Dad, and enabled him to now post his own Bible studies and link them on the Internet for his website ministry at: closerlook.ca.  John has previously done this work for his Dad.

Who could have arranged ahead of time, with precision, the blessings of these past five weeks?

Our Wannabe Clock

I have heard it said that native North American Indians find it strange that the white man has to look at his clock or wristwatch to know whether he is hungry or not!

The faithful timepiece in the garden has proven very helpful whenever we’re working or relaxing outdoors.

Giant daisies & clock-1024--Aug.30-13

Have you ever heard of . . . or seen . . . a wannabe clock?

We have one growing just outside the back gate!  Let me describe it for you:

–       It’s about 40 feet tall.  We can’t bring it indoors.

–       The main part of the clock is at least 12 inches across.

–       It has a deeply furrowed grey-black finish.

–       The pendulum is composed of 15–23 green pieces, all paper-thin.

–       Whenever there is the slightest breeze, the pendulum rhythmically swings back and forth.

–       It is absolutely silent – no tick tock.

–       Although the pendulum is rather unpredictable, this particular clock has no face.  It just enjoys keeping time!

To help you see it better, I put a dab of white-out on the bottom points of the pendulum.  Can you see the pendulum  swung to the left?

Pendulum to the left-1024

Now it has swung to the right:  (See the white tips?)

Pendulum to the right-1024

Yes, our Wannabe Clock is a black walnut tree!!

Time is such a precious commodity.  Mornings find me in the studio, which often stretch into the afternoon, bringing more pink roses, their leaves and buds, to life on the canvas of Beside the Still Waters.

Did you know that in the future, a very powerful angel, with one foot on the land and one foot on the sea, will declare:

 “…that there should be time no longer.”  Revelation 10:6.

What then?

How’s Your Throat?

Every time I mention streptocarpcus, the blue flowers hanging on the wall by our front door, Lloyd hears the “strep” part, and often retorts:    “It sounds like some disease.”  We have all heard of strep throats, and how sore they are.

This elegant plant comes in a fantastic variety of colours, but somehow I have only found the heavenly blue ones.  I was delighted and surprised this week to see the hummingbird sipping from the slender throats of the dangling blossoms.  It seems that hummingbirds are attracted to flowers with nectar-filled throats . . . even if they are not the touted colour of red!


The white throat of one of our hostas is scented like lily of the valley.  (Its botanical name is Tetraploid sport of plantaginea.) It had been in our back yard for a few years, but refused to bloom.  I moved a piece of it to the sidewalk garden to fill in a vacant space caused by a pesky rabbit who had chomped off everything in sight.  The lily-like hosta approved of its sunnier location, and now has pushed up several stalks loaded with buds which elongate by the day.  Can you tell me Who fills their throats with this wondrous scent?

Hosta lily, 1024-fragrant-Sept

Bumblebees disappear from sight as they fly into the brown-striped throats of yellow allamanda blossoms, and then wriggle their way back out, and zoom away.


It’s September, and it’s time to care for our own throats.  I’m going to practise the nightly ritual of gargling with warm salt water before retiring for bed.  My friend claims it will prevent getting a sore throat, the precursor to the common cold.

Today I’m imagining the fragrance of roses . . . as I begin painting luscious pink blooms onto a mass of shrub roses bordering a quiet river in PEI.  The painting will be titled, “Beside the still waters.”  Six sheep are quietly grazing on the far bank.


Shoulders – paved, rocky, invisible, or grassy!

The Chipmunk Express pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway a few days ago to release its non-paying client to its new home in the country.  This was number ten.  I just saw another one scoot up the trunk of the miniature pear tree on the front lawn.  How many siblings are there?  Their mother must have been like the old lady who lived in the shoe!

It has been surprising to see a heuchera plant take root of its own accord this summer on the rocky shoulder of the waterfalls next to a mossy patch on the right.  Even more surprising was that it had enough energy to send up a mini stem of white bells!

Heuchera-clear-Aug. 12-13

When we take a break on the lawn swing, camera always at the ready, powerful shoulders bear guests within our viewing range, making nary a sound.

Hi!  I'm coming in for a sip!-1024- Aug Today I finished constructing a rugged zigzag fence across the shoulder of a pasture field in PEI.  It was rough old cedar to work with, but I managed to finish the job without getting any slivers!

The previous day I was listening to the uplifting audio story of R.G. Le Tourneau, a mover of men and of mountains, and did a little earth scraping myself.  I changed the contours of the pasture in the painting to accommodate a barn for the sheep which will soon arrive on its slopes.


If You Don’t Mind

“I hope you don’t think I’m a Peeping Tom . . . but I’ve just got to ask you a question, if you don’t mind.” 

Chipmunk-Mind if I peek in


“Where are you taking the chipmunks in that wired box thing?  I see you putting them into the trunk of your Smart car.  I’d kind-a like to get a ride in that cute thing myself.”

Smart Car-rear-1024

My husband just returned from chauffeuring Chipmunk No. 8 out to the country – maybe it was Peeping Tom himself!  When Lloyd opened the door of its mesh holding cell, the chipmunk scooted a short distance, then stopped, and paused . . . gathering his bearings, or maybe just stopping to say, Thanks for the ride!  He was a sanguine little creature, indeed, certainly not what you would call a Type A!

If that had been a squirrel, he would have charged out like a bolt of lightning the second Lloyd raised the door.

P.S.  Oh dear.  The Chipmunk Express is becoming too popular.  Before 5:00 p.m., Chipmunk No. 9 was demanding a ride in the Smart car, too!

Chipmunk No.9-1024-Jy 31-13

It had just started to rain, so we obliged right away.  As we headed out, Lloyd said, “I’ll soon have to start charging.  I’m closing down the Chipmunk Express for the night.  Two trips in one day is enough.”





Well, I’m heading back into the studio to paint some more of PEI’s gently rolling hills that we fell in love with a couple years ago.

High Tea at Four O’clock

Every morning I have been fetching the hummingbird feeder in, cleaning it, and filling it with an inch of fresh nectar.

Taking a break from the studio where I’m working on a painting of Prince Edward Island, what did I see a hummingbird choose for high tea?  Bee Balm!  He’s gone completely green, all right.   No thanks to that concoction in a bottle surrounded by plastic flowers!

Hummingbird, bee balm - 1024

Can you see the open end of the petals?  How quickly the hummingbird moved from one petal-tube to the next on the mop-like crimson flowers.  He then flew to a clump of bee balm a little lower in the garden and rapidly sipped his ‘tea.’

No bells rang out, announcing his visit, but some golden bells were joyous nonetheless.

Golden Bells - or - Allamanda - Jy 25-13

I found these golden bells at Sheridan’s this spring, and bought the vine instantly, and planted it by our pond.  Its proper name is allamanda.

Golden Bells  by the pond - 1024-Jy 25-13

We grew this vine when we lived on the Island of Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands.  The vine filled a trellis at the end of the veranda with its wonderful scented bells and long, chestnut-brown, pointed buds.

Have you ever had a helicopter land on your deck in absolute silence?

After landing, it paused . . . then flew straight up, and back down again into the very same spot!   Was he having trouble with his landing gear or what?

Dragonfly - 1024 - Jy 25-13



Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s Baby

Once upon a time, I did a watercolour of the climbing rose blooming by our side door – Sir Wilfrid Laurier.  The story was blogged previously about how a lady in Ottawa had moved this same type of rose bush to another part of her garden, but it did not survive.  She had received the rose for a birthday gift, and dearly loved its classic shape, and its long-stemmed blooms.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier - 1024 - rain blest - June 28-13

Terri, for that is her name, had been trying unsuccessfully to find another Sir Wilfrid Laurier rose for about ten years.  When she stumbled upon my painting on the Internet, she emailed me.  The result was that I sent her several cuttings in the mail.  I explained how my husband’s mother successfully started new roses from cuttings, putting the end of the stem in the soil, and sheltering the rest of it beneath a glass jar.

This month, Terri emailed us that she and her husband and niece would be returning from a vacation in West Virginia, and could accept our previous invitation to come by and see us and Sir Wilfrid Laurier on their way home.

In the meantime, unbeknownst to me, something wondrous began to happen by our back door.  Sir Wilfrid Laurier must have sensed that Terri was coming . . . and set quietly to work.  Lo and behold, he managed to produce a baby not half a foot away!

However, by the time Terri arrived on July 12th, there wasn’t a single bloom on Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Terri Skuce & Eleanor-1024

Sir Wilfrid Laurier had absolutely outdone himself this spring, and I photographed him daily, and emailed several photos to Terri.

- 1024But now he was resting.  All that could be seen on the healthy climber were promises of another round of roses – fascinating little crimson shoots.

Baby Laurier had been carefully dug out a few weeks earlier and placed in his own ‘play pen’ (pot).  Mind you, he was just a baby with only two small legs, and a few of his leaves dropped off like baby teeth!  However, I’m eager to hear how he likes his new ‘bed’ in Ottawa.  I know he will get all the pampering a baby rose could possibly want.


Peanut Butter Is Irresistible!

Just ask the chipmunks.

I didn’t go along with Lloyd when he took his double catch, Chipmunks No. 2 & 3, out to their country estate.  He told me that he thought they might be frightened . . . so he sang hymns to them all the way out!

Two at once! - 1024 - Jn 29-13

Today, Sunday afternoon, I went along to escort Chipmunk No. 4.

Chipmunk No.4-1024-Jn 30-13

Have you ever tried fitting a seat belt around a chipmunk?

He soon settled down, however, and sprawled on his tummy, hind feet behind, for most of the trip.  Once we reached the vicinity of his cousins and stopped the Smart car, Lloyd hoisted the cage out, and lifted its end gate.  Chipmunk No. 4 exited like a shot out of a gun, jiggling the tips of the tall grass on the embankment as he sped along.

Dwelling Places

Generally, how do you describe sparrows?  Aggressive?  Cheeky?  Brazen?  Birds of action?

Surprisingly, they behave entirely out of character when their young are involved.  Whenever we sat on the lawn swing, some 20 feet away from the birdhouse, Mother Sparrow regarded us as the most suspicious of characters!  She did not want us to see her going to the birdhouse.  No way.  She would alight on the wooden fence, ever keeping a beady eye on us, and hop her way along the top rail by fits and starts, pausing innumerable times . . . before she flew to the dwelling place of her young.

Mother sparrow feeding babies-1024-May 19-13

We were worn us out just watching Mother Sparrow constantly flying off to fetch more bugs for them.   How weary her faithful brown wings must have become.  Father Sparrow never showed up once to bring in the groceries! 

By the way, have you seen my painting titled “Brown Wings”?

The upper garden shed is the dwelling place of the lawn mower, the snow blower, rakes and shovels, flower pots, you name it.  It is getting a makeover this spring, which started by replacing the floor.  Today Lloyd waterproofed its tired roof with a liberal coating of thick tar.  The threatened rain held off, and the temperatures were cool and comfortable for the messy work.

Tarring garden shed roof, 1024-May 23-13

Yesterday, we caught Rabbit No. 5.  I’ll not include its photo, as you’re probably sick and tired of looking at brown rabbits – but I declare, a brown rabbit in a cage is a BEAUTIFUL sight!


Misplaced ‘Persons’

From what distance can a rabbit smell a piece of apple?

Rabbit No. 4 is now numbered among the misplaced ‘persons’ who, at this very moment, is sniffing about in a far away woods, choosing where to dig his burrow.

Rabbit No. 4-May 8-13

Last fall, I planted several clumps of red tulips with seven bulbs in each, thinking they would make a dazzling splash of colour this spring.  However, the squirrels had their own opinion on how landscaping should be done around here, leaving my ‘clumps’ with only one or two tulips in them.  However, just over the fence in the woods, they planted a clump of five.  How beautiful the clump of five fiery blooms was – emphasis on was.  When I went out to photograph the misplaced ‘persons’  this morning, they were gone.  Someone had cut every single stem!

Tulip fire - 1024-May 7-13

I should stick to daffodils, as the squirrels abhor them, and wouldn’t think of transplanting any of them anywhere . . . even if you offered them a whole tree full of acorns!

Daffodils-May 8-13

The Magic Effect of Rabbit No. 3!

Yesterday was a killer!  Our son, John, came over on his day off and helped lug flooring materials, sacks of gravel, cement blocks and bricks up the knoll in the back yard to replace the rotted floor in the aging garden shed.  More soil had to be dug out, and a large tree root removed before the 2×6’s and 2×4’s could be secured in place.

Lots of slugging-1024

By seven at night, they were ready to nail down the first section of pressure treated plywood.

Levelling 2x4-1024

I had prepared one of John’s favourite meals, spareribs, which simmered all afternoon.  Our repast rejuvenated us somewhat.

Waking up this morning, our weary backs and joints made us feel as old as Methuselah!

All that subsided somewhat when I pulled open the living room drapes!  There by the hedge, the cage door was down, and Rabbit No. 3 was inside!

It’s surprising how success or good news can perk one up!

Lloyd covered the cage with a blanket so the rabbit would settle down and nap while we had breakfast.  When Rabbit No. 3 was released in the countryside at the same spot as the previous two, he bounded straight up the wooded hill.

Rabbit No.3-1024

“Where’s that apple?  Maybe we’ll catch another one tonight!”

Seniors, Take Note!

While we were out running errands last week, Lloyd said, “Why don’t we just slip around and look at a Smart car?”

My head swivelled like an owl’s.  I stared straight at him, detecting a suspicious bit of a grin.  “We’re just going to look, aren’t we?”

We drove across town to the Mercedes-Benz dealership which has a Smart car division, and took their all-electric model out for a test drive.  It had a generous government rebate hanging over it like a carrot!  The final price was too high for our budget, and the pre-charge mileage was too low.

Not deterred, Lloyd suggested we take a look at their gasoline-powered Smart car, which was much less expensive.  They just happened to have the exact colour we wanted, and because it was a 2013 demo, they offered a generous discount.  It can go 600 km on a full tank.  We took it for a test-drive, and as you can see by the picture, it passed with flying colours!  Believe it or not, we purchased it at 0% interest!

E at wheel of Smart car-1024

It seems that no one can approach to look at our little ‘ladybug’ without grinning from ear to ear.  However, when you sit inside, it feels like a big car.  There is ample space behind the seats to fit in a picnic cooler with wheels, two lawn chairs and more!

Best of all, seniors, the floor is high, and to exit, you just put your feet out and stand up ; no prying yourself out like we had to do with the Grand Am.  The model?  “Fortwo Pure Coupe.”

Now, tell me, can you look at this car without smiling?

A Peeping Tom

On opening the living room drapes this morning, I was aghast to see a peeping Tom sitting by the sidewalk, staring right at me, not five feet away.  He didn’t blink or flinch, and made no attempt to run.

What’s more, as I looked at the cage by the hedge, I could see that the door to the cage was down.  That meant there should have been an animal inside, hopefully, a rabbit.  There wasn’t!  How did the critter remove the apple without getting caught? 

What was this brazen rabbit trying to communicate as he gaped straight at me?  Was it something like, “See.  I got your apple, and I didn’t get caught!  Now what are you going to do about it?”

What an insolent wretch!  No doubt he brought his siblings over  last night, told the strongest one to hold the door up with his paw, while he scooted in and seized the prized apple.

                                            I can just see him as he plopped down

 and ate the WHOLE thing

without sharing as much as

 one teensy little brown seed.

Rabbit No. 2

Rejoice!  The apple bait worked once again! We hauled Rabbit No. 2 out to the countryside after breakfast.  This time, we carried the cage to the opposite side of the busy road before releasing her.  When Lloyd opened the door and tipped the cage up a little, instead of bounding out and up the wooded hill, the rabbit ran along on the inside edge of the woods.

Maybe her Romeo has a new burrow dug by now, and will have the Welcome sign hung out.

Believe it or not, before she was caught, she chewed off a small clump of chives at the edge of our sidewalk garden!!  Is the idea of a rabbit’s menu just something green??  I would have thought she would turn her nose up at the onion-garlic taste of chives!  Maybe I should set out a hot pepper plant and see how that suits such wild taste buds.

We’ll bait the cage again in case more of her ilk come prowling and chomping about.

Rabbit No.2-1024


Desperado Caught At Last

For the second spring in a row, crocuses, grape hyacinths, tulips, you name it, have been chomped off in our flowerbeds, robbing us of the long-awaited splash of brilliant colour.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, sprouting bean plants and flowers continued to be chewed off down to the ground all summer long.  Now I know why Mr. McGregor in Beatrix Potter’s tales got SO ANGRY at Peter Rabbit!!

Last year, I tried a water gun (not powerful enough).  I tried hurling stones (but couldn’t shoot half straight).  We tried a cage, following someone’s suggestion that a piece of broccoli inside would do the trick.  No way. 

This week we hauled a larger cage out of the shed, pushed the back of it under the cedar hedge as far as possible, and baited it with a fresh piece of apple.  Bingo! 

Rabbit-Suspect caught-1024

After breakfast, we couriered the critter out to the countryside.  When my husband opened the cage door beside a ditch at the edge of a woods, the rabbit didn’t head for the ditch (as all of our previously released animals have), but scooted around the front of the car, crossing the road in front of fast-moving traffic.  He had been faster . . . because we saw the white puff of his tail ping-ponging up the slope of the woods on the opposite side of the road. 

We reset the cage when we got home to try and catch his mate.  May they soon be reunited!

Maybe grape hyacinths will bloom around here after all . . . instead of becoming some wretched rabbit’s salad! 

And that is your excerpt for the day from the edge of the big woods. 


Left Pine pointed out where he thought my John Henry should go, and I discreetly followed his advice.  And now it is with mixed emotions that I clean up my paint brushes and bid this canvas adieu.

Perhaps you, too, have become attached to Noble Pine, to Left Pine, or to the prim and proper Ms. Aspen and her two cousins, to the towering Guardian of the Path, to the dear Old Sentinel, and, last but not least, to the fragrant bake apple blossoms cheering all who walk this path.

Perhaps in your fancy you, too, have sat for a spell on the big rock and enjoyed the vista of Norris Point, and longed for its unhurried pace.

Do let me know if you have enjoyed joining me on this creative ‘jog’ in the exceptionally beautiful province of Newfoundland.  (By the way, The Old Sentinel painting will be offered on eBay shortly, and prints will soon be available on our website.)