Sunday, November 30, 2014


Three nights at the vacation rental approximated the charges for a one week cruise in the Caribbean although it didn’t include breakfast, lunch, dinner and a chocolate on our pillows each night.  However, it did have the worst beds we’ve ever encountered except for the roots under our tent at Tombstone Campground in Canada’s Yukon.  Karen and I opted to climb an almost vertical ladder into a funky loft with a double bed providing the comfort level of a Salvation Army thrift store reject.  Too soft proved to be just one of it's failings.  Worse, whenever one of us moved -- like scratching their nose or rolling over -- the entire bed rocked like a half inflated rubber raft on the Bering Sea.  Karen would get seasick in any rubber raft on the Bering Sea -- or at least get vertigo. 

Meanwhile down below Mandy commandeered a mini-futon which she described as tantamount to sleeping on a piece of cardboard.  With her reputation for being able to sleep on any surface including a piece of cardboard, it became obvious the next day that this was not “corrugated” cardboard.  To add insult to the situation, we paid an additional $25 per night for use of that derelict futon.

The remaining nights Mandy borrowed a cushion from a porch chair while now seasick Karen abandoned the rocking raft to join Mandy using an air mattress for reinforcement.  Alone on the upstairs "craft" I slept like a golden retriever on a living room sofa.

Unlike past road trips, the curse of the beds followed us off and on throughout the trip. Sometimes we both slid into the center of the bed like positive and negative charged ions “spotting” each other in a physics lab.  Other nights we vied for position on that one high ridge knowing that a shift to the left or right would send us on a prolonged slide towards a precipitous cliff.  Yes, we also found comfortable beds, but fewer than we find at any Motel 6.

On our way south (actually in a north-easterly direction along this stretch of highway) to our destiny with the beds, we paused at Seeley Lake, British Columbia.

There we thought we were enjoying the peak of color in the autumn foliage.  Wrong!  Three weeks later we echoed the same statement.

Further south at Spences Bridge, British Columbia we stopped for Karen's forth pass through a thrift store, conveniently located next to a somewhat moribund church.  Judging from the condition of the structure, it may be fortunate that the door was locked because Karen sure wanted to go inside.

We rendezvoused with our daughter, Amanda, at La Conner, Washington where we found beaches much to our liking...

                   Except where access to the beach at our vacation rental was blocked by a previous tenant.

                                      To add insult to the situation, this gull thought it was all pretty funny.

No problem.  We just headed on down to Washington's Deception Pass State Park.  Er -- Mandy, what did that sign we just passed mean -- I think it said something about leashes?

We also connected with friends John and Michale Edgington who abandoned Petersburg several years ago to enjoy the benefits of a more temperate climate.

We ate breakfast the last morning in La Conner where the bakery was stuffed with people stuffing themselves so we sat outside.  Although a tad chilly, a fringe benefit was the presence of the diner at the next "table" -- a great blue heron.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


This fall, Petersburg’s Wild Celery Gallery, Karen’s and my only “brick and mortar” (really more of a wood and drywall structure) outlet for our art, closed it’s doors.  Brenda, the owner wanted to retire and buyers were harder to find than hairs where I once had a cowlick north of my brow line.  With no impending shows and limited opportunities to hang paintings in public venues, I figured maybe the good Lord was giving me a nudge.  But in what direction?

I've had suggestions that I devote more time to portraits.  Maybe the pendulum on my personal clock has reached that "hour."  Here are my most recent efforts -- two painting that seemingly have little relationship until I realized both share one common denominator -- the innocent joy that so draws us to children,

                                                 Nora "Berry"   12x 12 inches   Alkyd on Canvas

I frequently look at Becca's photos of her family on her Facebook page.  Oh my, she catches so much personality in her shots.  I spotted one of Nora with her brother, Gus, that kept saying "paint me, paint me."  But Gus's gaze in this photo just didn't work with Nora.  OK, maybe I could temporarily move her brother a little further to the right (like off the canvas).  Don't worry, Becca, I still have my eye on Gus.

                                                      David   12 x 12 inches   Alkyd on Canvas   

I based "David" on a photograph I took of my now 44-year-old son back when he had weathered considerably fewer Alaskan winters -- back when he showed me the pleasures of a dusty Matanuska Valley back road.  What wonderful memories.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Two Lasses

I have to admit, I’m guilty of larceny.  Yep, I used several friends photos (one from a post on Facebook and the other a family photo sent to us via email) as reference material for a couple of paintings.  My “excuse” is probably the same one heard many times in courthouses throughout the country:  “I just couldn’t help myself.”

I always have my eye out for good painting subjects and several of our friends unknowingly dangled the bait right in front of me.  Like a cutthroat trout eying a Royal Coachman fly, I bit.  Their photographic skills were just too hard to resist.  Both had captured that extra something, a personality that spoke volumes.  A more scrupulous artist would have asked permission, but then the “need” to produce what they expected would have put unwanted pressure on me.  This way, I could just throw away the paintings if I deemed them unworthy and they would be none the wiser.  So in the absence of expectations by others, I just followed my whims.  

In the end though, I had to turn myself in, but oh the fun I had during my “crime spree.”  I hope the grandparents of the subjects enjoy their new paintings.

                                         Olivia     12x12 inches   Alkyd on Canvas     Private Collection

It started when Olivia's grandma sent us photos of her grandchildren.  Something about those eyes, her innocence spoke to me and off I went.  The original photo depicts Olivia's full figure while the background is a lawn covered with autumn leaves.  Enter Photoshop's cropping tool.  I didn't want any distractions in the painting resorting, instead to a somewhat neutral setting.  Of course my original attempt drew a "NO" from my chief critic (Karen) so that had to change.  Similarly lettering on Olivia's sweatshirt somehow disappeared.  Alas, so much for my depicting unedited history.

                           Miss Brooke     12x12 inches     Alkyd on Canvas     Private Collection

Her mom posts many photos of Brooke on her Facebook page.  Annie's a terrific photographer and has captured quite a number that I've secretly moved onto our computer.  I based this painting on an image in which Brooke appeared in an elegant maroon dress holding a violin.  It's a classic and I wonder if it was her first recital.  Opting for a close-up portrait, I decided to change Brooke's clothes, choosing instead a dress she wore in another Facebook photo.  Later I found out that Annie had even made the dress, thus adding meaning to the painting.  Sometimes I get lucky.