Monday, April 29, 2013

Our Alaska Forest Refuge

Our house is nestled against an island of forest in a town starved for sun. Many a tree has fallen to the chainsaw as local residents battle to garnish more of that elusive “substance” when it makes an appearance.  Karen and I, too, savor the need to slather on spf 30 sunscreen when we step onto our deck.  Alas, our little woodland blocks that golden orb from descending on us way too often.   On the other side, without our tiny refuge, would we have seen that black bear slip through the trees out our kitchen window, those porcupines nibbling on our prickly salmonberry bushes, or that Sitka black-tailed deer hide her new-born fawn just outside our bedroom window?  In the grand scheme of nature, are they really our woods?

When we moved to Petersburg I occasionally trudged into our woodland acre with my rusty hand saw determined to open up the canopy.  I’d stare up into the limbs of those Sitka spruce, western hemlock, shore pine and yellow cedar, reflecting on how sheltering they feel -- how much warmer it is on the forest floor on a cold winter day-- how much drier during an outflow of liquid from low hanging clouds.  Then I’d walk back inside and put the saw away.  Maybe another time. 

One tree in particular is the worst offender -- a mountain hemlock on the south side of our house.  Years ago I climbed close to the top -- where I got dizzy peering at our red metal roof far below.  My objective --   shorten the specimen.  It grew back thicker than ever.  More recently we pruned several branches, but still the hemlock’s mass stands tall -- a sylvan Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde -- sheltering us from rain and snow and yet capturing too much of our limited sun.

        A Pine Siskin naps on a moss and lichen-covered limb of our Western Hemlock

Karen and I have decided it’s the red squirrel’s tree -- it is the route of several of these feisty rodents to our bird feeders.  It’s the Pine Siskin’s tree.  The Stellers Jays, the Varied Thrushes.  There’s a whole ecosystem on the branches.  Mosses, lichens, ferns, who knows how many species of insects.  There are hatches of moths in early winter, another insect hatch that emerges when winter days creep above freezing -- proving that even bugs can warm our spirits.  I suspect they’re coming from our hemlock.  The rufous hummingbirds that dart around our feeders may well nest somewhere in it’s heights.  It collects many a snow flake every winter to shelter deer that bed down among it’s roots.  And when the raindrops are falling, that pocket of needle strewn ground at it’s base is so much more welcoming than our soggy lawn

                A Sitka Black-tailed Deer with her fawn outside our bedroom window

                           A female Red Crossbill on a hemlock in our "forest"

Yes, as long as Karen and I call this place home, we’ll share our little acre with that hemlock, it’s neighboring forest and the critters that depend on them.  In return they give us a measure of privacy, peace, and our own private refuge from the stresses of life.

An immature Bald Eagle out another bedroom window.  Eagles sometimes fly into our woods with a salmon from Wrangell Narrows, often pursued by another eagle or two intent on stealing it's meal.  During the ensuing squabble the fish crashes to the forest floor where Niko (our dog) finds a pleasing object to roll in.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sun, Rain and Plein Air Painting in Alaska

With an average of 96 sunny days and 234 measurable precipitation days In Petersburg -- at least according to Sperling’s Best Places website -- you’d think southeast Alaskans are suffering from deprivation.  OK, we are, but wait.

How did Sperling come up with 96 days of sun?  We may see a flower pot’s worth of totally sunny days but I doubt they even add up to a vast number like 96 per year. Sometimes a radiant morning ends with rain induced blurring of my glasses during a late afternoon dog walk.  Or vice versa.  What about those “drat, I missed it because I sneezed,” sun days?   Maybe, if we modify the definition we'd see 234 days per year when the sun at least peeks into our world just to see if we haven’t moved to Arizona.  As an artist I feel clouds add character to a painting or a photograph -- as long as they temper their appearance with a little restraint.  Plus I doubt I’d get much painting done in my studio if I lived in Arizona.  More likely it would be covered with spider webs.  Someone said “All sunshine makes a desert.”  Oops, I like deserts.

After feeling abandoned by the sun most of the winter, we’ve had a pretty good flavoring of sunny days this month.  Some friends even suggested we were getting a summer this year -- just a little early.  So, I seized the opportunity to head to a favorite wetland for some plein air painting.  My destination -- the 21-mile Three Lakes Loop Road.  Somehow, I don’t think the US Forest Service had plein air painters in mind when they constructed that winding road to access timber sales, but still they succeeded.

Someone named the road figuring it would be poetic to name it after a cluster of three lakes accessed by trails that radiate from it's gravel surface.  The lakes are named after a bird that heralds the arrival of spring in Petersburg -- Sand, Hill and Crane in that order.  Naturally there’s no sand on the shores of Sand Lake, they all have hills around them and there’s no place for cranes to land on Crane Lake. 

My favorite part of the system, however, is a drainage into Hill Lake crossed by the Crane Lake Trail.  This drainage which parallels the road is augmented by the presence of our island beaver population.  The meandering watercourse creates painting compositions with every twist and bend, an idyllic setting for plein air painters on those 96 sunny days.

                        Three Lakes Meander 1    9 x 12 inches    Alkyd on canvas

                        Three Lakes Meander 2    9 x 12 inches    Alkyd on canvas

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Denizens of the Sea Plane Float

Last autumn I took my first ride on one of the Alaska Marine Highway’s newest ferries, a 235-foot catamaran, the Fairweather.  Previously I’ve only seen it sailing into and out of Petersburg where, from our living room window. the space-age craft looks like something you’d more likely see at an airport in Dubai.  It certainly doesn’t fit in with the classic lines of the older ships in the fleet. 

My prejudice against the Fairweather changed somewhat during that ride.  Cruising over placid seas at 42-miles per hour the usual eight-hour ride to Juneau slipped by in just four hours.  The trip felt as smooth as a snooze on our living room couch.  Sadly it was a money losing proposition for the state since I counted just seven fellow travelers on the ship built to carry 250 passengers.

I pulled myself away from the cafeteria long enough to savor the passing scene -- the necklace of deep green forests wrapped like ribbons around rocky crags, glaciers and fields of snow as they flashed by the wrap-around windows.  We passed pods of orcas, the dorsal fins of big males rising like ship masts over the sea; feeding humpback whales with waterfalls pouring off their tails as they dove into the depths and one group of marine mammals I could share with Karen.  Pulling away from the pier I spied a handful of sea lions lazing around on Petersburg’s sea plane float.  Karen got the first call on our new cell phone.  “You have a photo op, sweetheart.”  I was sure she wouldn’t miss them since a mature male Steller’s sea lion can weigh over a ton and reach up to 10 feet (3.25 meters) in length.   While females are considerably smaller, if one sat on your foot you’d need to see a podiatrist. 

For our local sea lions Petersburg harbors are their version of McDonald’s.  Close to schools of herring, cod and Dolly Varden char, to name but a few of our marine residents and the carcasses of newly cleaned halibut, rock ish and salmon tossed into the harbor by local sport fishers, they’ve found a culinary paradise.  And, of course, the sea plane float is far more comfortable then a pile of rocks out in Frederick Sound, not to mention the shorter commuting distance to “McDonald’s.”

While we relish sharing our corner of the world with these denizens of the sea, local commercial fishers do not.  It’s their mutual fondness for salmon.  Say a commercial troller dragging a small fleet of hooks for hours on end finally latches on to a king salmon worth hundreds of dollars, a paycheck for many hours at sea.  All too often that potential infusion of cash into the troller's coffers becomes a dinner bell for sea lions.  The fisherman ends up with just a head or less.  No -- sea lions are not popular in Alaska commercial fishing ports.

For that matter, I don’t suppose pilots who tie their planes up at the seaplane float particularly like sharing the “airport” with these smelly over-stuffed sacks of blubber either.  Sea lions are not house (or dock) broken.  They’ve made the end of the float slippery and smell worse than a landfill on a hot summer day.  I suspect that end of the dock is now reserved for it’s maritime residents -- a bonus provided for tourists by the state.

And, for photographers and artists like Karen these flour-sack shaped behemoths of the sea are one more bonus for living in this remote corner of the world.  I can just hear Karen softly cooing to them as she crawls just a wee bit closer.

                      Mildly Unassuming    8 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches    Watercolor

                                                     Total Comfort

                                               The regal king of the float

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Spring Day in the Sun

Karen and I needed another driftwood fix along Sumner Strait.  It’s our kind of high, so one of this week’s cluster of sunny days lured us back.  This time I vowed (as the coach of Petersburg’s basketball team would urge his team) to stay focused.  The idea -- without getting distracted, return to a log that I hoped high tides would not have floated away and paint it in plein air.  No procrastinating, no lazing in a sunny nook frying my winter-bleached skin, no wandering about in search of the next beach “Picasso”, just honing in on my subject and painting it right where it sat.  I haven’t done that since a failed plen air painting last September. 

Meanwhile Karen, camera in hand, would set off on an “explore” while Niko searched for anything to eat - edible or not.   Once again, we had miles of beach all to ourselves with just an occasional whisper of a breeze while the sun poured down like honey on a peanut butter sandwich.  At times the only sound was that of silence. 

I zeroed in on a still-life of a log because of Karen.  During a beach outing some years back she photographed the textures and shapes --  the convergence and near misses of several roots on a beached tree.  She captured the very essence of driftwood.  I had walked right past her subject without ever noticing as I photographed distance vistas that day.  Not Karen.  I fell in love with her photo and savored it even more as I distilled its image on canvas.  Of all my paintings, it’s one of Karen’s favorites.  It’s home is still our home.  I wanted a rerun.

I saw potential in a little cranny in the root system of -- oh, I don’t even know if it was a spruce, hemlock or cottonwood-- but it was (and still is) a tree -- at least a dead tree.  What remained in that death was an image -- the flow of the roots as they intertwined like a mother’s arms caressing her sleepless child.  I plopped down in front of that “mother” as time slipped by unnoticed.

                           Driftwood Still Life    9 X 12 inches    Alkyd on Canvas

Meanwhile Karen found a few cheeky birds -- a song sparrow that might well have sought shelter in those roots last winter and a robin that had only recently migrated north to our island, perhaps from some exotic location such as Wrangell.  Both are common in Alaska, probably boring to avid birders.  But for Karen, if it chirps, grunts, roars or quacks, she wants to photograph and paint it.  Perhaps a future blog post will depict her memories of that spring day in the sun.

                                            A fine day over Sumner Strait

                         Karen's new-found friend, a newly arrived American Robin

                                             My favorite photographer

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Dog in the Kayak

My eyes drifted to a wall adjacent to our living room gas fireplace.  As often happens, Karen had just defeated me in our nightly game of Upwords (kind of a vertical Scrabble) and I was already on a mental voyage to my next blog post.  My eyes rest on that wall of our log home every night -- at my favorite painting -- Karen’s  “Bessie at the Helm.“ Given a choice between hanging the Mona Lisa there or Karen’s watercolor and I’d take Karen’s piece.  Hands down.

Karen painted the subject from a photo I snapped on a kayak trip I once shared with Bessie, our second-hand golden retriever.  Being lazy by nature, I had brushed out a trail from a logging road near the southeast corner of our island.  From there I could portage our kayak down a steep slope dodging wind thrown logs, roots and holes on our stumble to a beach.  From there I could launch it into Dry Strait and paddle through a series of islands, their rounded tops showing the power of glaciers during past ice ages.  Never mind the mud flat I had to slop through that covered my boots and Bessie’s paws with gray ooze.  I figured it saved my about ten miles of the paddle from Petersburg -- not counting the distance currents forced us far offshore as we paddled past the North Arm of the Stikine River.

We found lighter ice conditions than we met during our last blog post so Bessie and I made it almost to the glacier with an overnight camp out en route.  We opted not to go to the glacier because of my preference not to be floating under a chunk of ice the size of our house, or any size for that matter, that toppled off the glacier’s face.  Fearing entrapment by that ice in a pocket where a rugged valley offered a logical camp site on the east side of the glacier, I found a barren knob on the west side -- just a glacially rounded granite hump worn smooth by the ebb and flow of LeConte Glacier through the eons.  It afforded a panorama of the face of the glacier with seals lounging around on newly calved icebergs.  It offered a spot to pitch my tent minus the luxury of comfort -- unless you like sleeping on a solid stone with your head and feet the thickness of a sack of dog food lower than the middle of your spine.

With nothing to tie it to, I pulled our kayak far above the tide line and spent the evening doing what one does when camped on a rock above a glacier -- exposing rolls of film, exploring for more photo ops and eating. 

Somehow the night passed.  With its demise, dawn brought a light rain.  Checking the kayak I discovered that sometime during the night LeConte Glacier must have had a large calving event.  How could I have slept through that when I didn’t sleep all night?  One of the things one learns about tidewater glaciers is that large calving events produce large tsunami-like waves -- albeit on a somewhat smaller scale.  One of those waves overshot my carefully considered precautions to address that issue.  The wave managed to climb up our rock wall and under my kayak -- ebbing a sack of dog food’s width from floating it away.  A close one.  I hadn’t brought along enough peanut and jelly sandwiches to prepare for that possibility.

With the advent of rain and being the woosie that I am, I decided to head back to my launch site.  Lazily paddling and pushing through the ice in LeConte Bay, the miles just evaporate like mist over a tea pot.  Even soggy days provide an infinite variety of visual feasts when the viridian greens and cobalt blues of icebergs seem more intense the worse the weather -- up to a point -- a point we fortunately did not reach that day.

                               Bessie at the Helm    9 x 13 inches    Watercolor

The rain eased to a drizzle as I wearily kayaked out of the Bay, by now fighting tendonitis in both forearms.  Amused at Bessie’s ability to find comfort under any conditions, I chanced dampening the electronics of my camera and snapped a photo (well, more like a dozen) of my traveling companion at the “helm” of the kayak.  Somehow we made the 20-mile paddle in a day with the finale, the portage back across the mud and up that too-steep-to-be-fun slope to our waiting car. 

Eventually that image was published in Alaska Magazine, but the best representation of it is Karen’s painting.  “Mona Lisa” or “Bessie at the Helm.”  Give me the dog in the kayak.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Icy Gauntlet -- an Eventful Kayak Trip

Luck briefly smiled on us the first time Karen and I met LeConte Bay and we didn’t even know it.  We had ferried with our Klepper folding kayak from our home in Ketchikan to Petersburg, then chartered a float plane to drop us off in the Bay.  Our plan -- an easy paddle up the fjord to the glacier followed by a mellow paddle carried by tides and currents back to Petersburg -- five days in paradise, most among translucent blue or green and duller white icebergs calved off the Glacier.  Like clouds, they came in every imaginable shape, some as big as entire apartment buildings. 

We had no idea of how often those icebergs floating in the bay could scrub landings with a float plane.   Not that day in 1981.  To check for ice in our aquatic “airport” our pilot made several passes with a tight turn at each end.  With each turn Karen‘s face turned closer to the hue of the ice.

Her face had the color of concrete by the time our pilot deposited us on a slippery kelp-covered rock beach near the mouth of Bussy Creek.   With my soaring spirits and Karen’s groans about about her stomach being back several turns of the plane, we set off.  First came grass flats, beaten down by last winter’s snows.  Behind the cathedral-like forest beckoned. 

With sagging spirits and no change in Karen’s stomach we found there was more than grass on those flats.  Bear poop!  Everywhere!  The place looked like a cattle feed lot with all the bear scats.  It had to take a whole bunch of bears to leave that many.  For us, those poops guarded the shelter offered by the towering old-growth forest just beyond the tide line -- a forest nourished by the carcasses of a lot of salmon dragged there by a lot of black and brown bears.  Having several campsite encounters with bears under our belts, we decided Bussy Creek didn’t look that great after all. 

Heading further into the bay we found a torrent (think water supply) below a landslide on a slope steep enough to have landslides.  Adjacent to it, one tiny knob just might be flat enough to pitch our tent on top.  Bingo.  The next day we would see the glacier. 

The next day leaden skies shed their surplus water vapor -- en masse.  With five days for this trip we chose to stay in camp confident, as no one in southeast Alaska has reason to be, that the weather would break.  Thus we found ourselves immersed in books as we lounged in our tent late that morning.  Life was good.  Tomorrow, maybe even later today we would see the glacier.

A scraping on the side of the tent -- alongside our heads, a shadow darkening the pages of our books, suggested maybe life was not that good after all.  We concluded there could be only one plausible explanation for that sound.  CLAWS!!!  With every effort to mimic the volume of an Alaska ferry fog horn in a narrow channel on a foggy morning, I bellowed a warning as I tumbled out the tent to face fate.  There, poised at the other side of the tent was the largest black bear I have ever seen -- do they come in any other size in these situations?  Waving my arms and acting far more confident than I felt, I suggested we could never be best friends, that he might prefer the scenery down by Bussy Creek.  He agreed, even if it was at a slow waddle.  Making a similar decision, we packed up our wet tent and headed in the other direction -- at a slow paddle.  This campsite didn’t look that great after all.

We never saw LeConte Glacier that trip.  The ice that parted enough to let us land,  thickened considerably the further up the bay we paddled.  Soon the density of the ice pack and the speed of the out-flowing current turned our progress in a negative direction.  Maybe we, two novices at this game, weren’t meant to see the glacier after all.  What if we did get further up the bay and couldn’t get out?  What if?

After another night in the Stiking LeConte Wilderness, a night listening to the grinding, hissing and popping of the ice, with no change in ice conditions the next day, we joined the bergs floating out of the bay.

                                   Icy Gauntlet    12 X 16 inches    Alkyd on anvas

Icy Gauntlet depicts the outer bay and the kind of ice conditions we often find in LeConte Bay.  Just when it seems there’s no way through, a narrow passageway appears and you’re on your way again.  Sometimes, but not that day in 1981.

Monday, April 8, 2013


An unusual conversion of events caught us by surprise last Thursday.  The sun came out and our calendar was blank.  What could we do but head out the road?  We grabbed food, dog biscuits, our cameras, painting supplies and books.  We never got past the cameras and Karen’s peanut butter cookies -- and Niko’s dog biscuits.

Traffic was light as we drove the 26 miles out the road.  One of the cars turned off before we reached it.  We pulled over to let the other one pass.  We ended up on the shores of Sumner Strait at the southern end of our island.  There we had miles of beach all to ourselves.  It’s an area where cottonwood with their warty-looking hulls, straight-backed Sitka Spruce, Mountain and Western Hemlock and clumps of alder -- entire trees big enough to shade the streets of urban America -- line the Mitkof Island shoreline. 

Many of these trees once flourished beside the nearby Stikine River.  According to Wikipedia, the Stikine originates 335 miles upstream, high on the lava field of the Spatsizi Plateau of British Columbia.  That makes the Stikine 64 miles longer than New York’s Hudson River.  Due to our wet Pacific Northwest climate, the Stikine’s average discharge of 55,800 cubic feet per second (CFS) dwarfs the Hudson’s 21,400 CFS.  With discharges rapidly rising and falling from alternating deluges of rain or melting of sun-struck glaciers, the river’s channel constantly shifts back and forth across the Stikine River valley.  And as it wanders back and forth large sections of shoreline wash into the River taking with them the trees trying desperately to stabilize the banks.  Tumbling into the river, the swift currents carry them seaward until eventually many of these trees, some riding the waves all the way from Canada, pile up on our rocky shores. 

That’s were we found them.  Despite the sun, a cold wind funneling down the Stikine from Canada convinced us we’d rather capture the day’s painting subjects at home in our warm studios.  So, with a change of plans Karen and I honed in on photographing those with intact root systems whose undulating “branches” once firmly anchored them to the land -- until the land disappeared into the river. 

As we wandered down the beach a sea of logs, often piled several layers deep on top of one another, lay parallel to the ocean.  Living relatives of the beached relics lined the adjacent uplands of Mitkof Island.  They, too, will one day fall, but only the front row is ever likely to feed the ever shifting row on the shoreline. New sculptures greeted us with every step, logs and roots sculpted by wind, water, rocks and battering against one another during high tides, natures sculptures worthy of exhibit in the world’s finest museums.  But, wait, isn’t that where we were last Thursday.

               Somewhere around the corner in the far distance -- the mighty Stikine River

                                  A sea of logs parallels the shore of Sumner Strait

                                        Karen finds a cooperative photo subject

                          Inside a root wad stripped of soil and bark by erosion

                                                         And yet another

                          Nature's sculptures abound on the beaches of Sumner Strait

Friday, April 5, 2013

Gnomes, Fairies and Ferries

Canneries provide a dynamic economic engine for Petersburg.  Here, species ranging in size from halibut bigger than our front door to shrimp the size of my little finger, herring, black cod, crab with names like King, Tanner and Dungeness, and salmon with names like Pink, Chum, Coho, Sockeye and there’s the name King again, all find new homes in cans and frozen packaging.  We pass these canneries whenever we head out in a boat for a day in search of ocean and mountain vistas, glaciers, icebergs, whales or maybe just hours of beach combing on a remote shoreline.  Invariably, on those days in this wild corner of the world, the first and last photos on Karen’s camera are urban subjects with that Alaska flair  --  the harbor and the canneries. 

One recent image in particular struck me.  Not the boats, not the eagles perched on the masts of the boats, not the mountains that frame the eagles perched on the masts of the boats, but rather a row of rain gear hanging on hooks just feet from where all those marine delicacies made landfall.  It “felt” like an image from John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row.  It spoke to me of expectation, of hardship, of readiness to work in whatever weather southeast Alaskan storms would throw at those cannery workers.

I wanted to paint it.  So, I did.  I liked the abstract shapes formed by the windows, the support post, the raincoats.  Still my piece seemed bland.  Ah, maybe this was meant to be another gnome painting.  I sketched a proposal but it, too, seemed uninspired.   Obviously there was only one solution.  Karen!  When it comes to mapping right brains, she’s out on the most creative flank of the bell curve.  Sure enough, in seconds I had my inspiration.  For a right brainer a gnome does not drag a fish by the mouth.  It uses the neck even though fish don’t have necks.  Mama gnome does not help by pulling with papa gnome.  She pushes.  And of course a right brainer puts in a fairy.

Thus, After Hours on the Loading Dock became a collaboration between us.  I may have “manufactured” the painting, but Karen was the inventor.

                     After Hours on the Loading Dock    12 X 16 inches    Alkyd on Canvas
We finished “After Hours on the Loading Dock” in early spring, 2012, never knowing how “prophetic” it was.  Within a month the Alaska ferry Matanuska, maneuvering to land at the Petersburg Ferry Terminal, found itself caught in a current pointed straight at Ocean Beauty Seafoods -- the dock in our painting.  The two met in a way in which boat captains strive not to make landings.  Now this is a long dock with lots of targets for a ferry.  So where did the Matanuska use the cannery as an alternative braking system? -- the spot where I had painted in Karen’s fairy.  

Fairy or ferry -- they’re pronounced the same in the strange language we call English.  That’s no problem for a right brainer like Karen.

If you want to see a YouTube video of the actual event. check out

Monday, April 1, 2013

Karen and the Geese

Like the city mouse, Karen has a country cousin.  Connie and her husband Bob work for the University of Iowa in Iowa City, she an environmental writer and he a Professor in Astrophysics.  They live in rural Iowa where Connie’s passion is woodland and prairie restoration.  Demonstrating her strong environmental ethic, she and Bob recycle everything possible -- even what most of us happily send into some sort of septic system.  Yep, instead of a flush toilet they have a composting toilet.  Connie and Karen are like sisters who get together as often as a gal in Iowa and one in Alaska can.

Connie and Bob not only recycle, but they also buy organic.  In fact, during one visit they dog sat our Niko while Karen and I visited Karen’s aging mom.  That’s when the organic ham arrived and was set on the kitchen counter.  That’s the day our dog, Niko, developed her preference for organic food.  She even ate the Mutel’s potted fern plant -- sort of like an an after-dinner mint.  To this day Niko turns her nose up at generic peanut butter if we try using it to camouflage her meds.  Connie’s penchant for organic foods has now rubbed off on our dog.

And so it was that Cousin Connie took Karen to a nearby farm to fill her grocery list.  Now Karen adores things that waddle and lo and behold she spied some domestic geese waddling around the farm.  Like a bee honing in on a daffodil, Karen buzzed off to visit those geese. 

Of course she was surprised when the gander of the family decided that maybe he was less fond of Karen than Karen was of him.  Now a hissing goose would convince me that maybe these geese should be photographed from a little greater distance -- such as from Utah or Vermont.  Not Karen.  She simply turned on her charm until they reached a truce.  

Thus were sown the seeds for Karen’s painting, “Mine, All Mine.”  Having also discovered a cart full of pumpkins, Karen decided her geese needed their own pumpkin patch.  More photos.  As a point of contrast with all that orange, she wanted a blue accent.  What better choice than an old colander Karen had picked up at an Iowa farmers market.  She yearned to paint the blue colander and so it found a “home” with the geese in the pumpkin patch.  I don’t think Karen has ever used that colander for it’s intended purpose, but never mind, there are many items in our house that Karen uses for purposes that no inventor could have ever envisioned.  If you’re in doubt, just take a look at her bird feeders.  

                                            Mine, All Mine    12 x 16 inches    Acrylic