Propane Tank Needs Decor

Original propane tank
Original propane tank look

This is the propane tank that I see when I look out my kitchen window. It seems out of place in our natural forest landscaping. It is just one of those things that bugs me…

As an artist I can change it, so the project begins. First I get a hose out there and spray the tank down. Then I take a bucket of warm water and TSP (tri sodium phosphate) with a green kitchen scrubber and get to work. Over the years layers of pitch from the pine trees along with lots of mildew have put quite a layer of icky stuff on the tank. But, good old TSP is a powerful cleaner that almost always removes all the coodies on any surface needing paint. Read the label cause it is not a nice chemical to handle incorrectly.

clean propane tank
Clean propane tank

Looks quite different clean doesn’t it? I go back into the studio to come up with a drawing to get things right.

tank as a canvas area
Tank as a canvas area
design and paints
design & paints

I am wanting to put the American flag flowing in the wind on the tank. Starting with the blue background for the stars on the far left with the stripes going over the rest of the tank at an angle.

chaulk lines on tank
Chaulk lines on tank

I know it isn’t that easy to see but, I use blue chalk to layout areas on the tank for the different colors. Then I quickly paint a rough underpainting of the design on the tank.

undercoating of design
Undercoating of design

I walk back up to the house and let it dry overnight.

walk away look

Stan Miller

Stan Miller watercolor portrait
Stane Miller Fine Artist

I have an artist friend/teacher named Stan Miller who is phenomenally talented. I look forward to any classes I can arrange to take from him. We both live in Spokane Washington but I was surprised to find out how famous this artist friend of mine is, during our travels. Check out these recent pictures taken while in Breckenridge Colorado.

Stan Miller Truck Far
Stan Miller Truck Far
Stan Miller Truck Close
Stan Miller Truck Close

I didn’t know Stan had  businesses,

Stan Miller Sign
Stan Miller Sign

roads and

Stan Miller Road
Stan Miller Road

machinery in Colorado.

Stan Miller Office
Stan Miller Office

Now this antique grader does look like something Stan would have us draw in class…. I have a better shot of this if anyone would like to draw it. Just PM me and I’ll send it to you.

Have you been holding out on us Stan?

What have you been up to in the Colorado mountains?

Magical Aspen Colors

aspens at Breckenridge
aspens near Breckenridge

One of the most solid memories for me as a child are the Fall aspens coloring the hillsides. Magnificent! I am 60+ years old and have finally been able to time a family visit trip back there, during this magically colorful event. I was born and lived in Lakewood Colorado and the mountains till I was in 4th grade, which is when we moved to Hawaii. I had the gift of many many weekends in the rocky mountains with my Grandparents (Mom’s side) exploring mines, beautiful rocks, fishing and camping out.

aspen hwy 6
aspen hwy 6

Experiencing these splashes of color across the mountains and valleys had a much larger effect on my emotions that I had expected to experience.

Hwy 6 A Basin
Near Arapahoe Basin Hwy 6

Memories of loved ones gone so long ago came right up into my face. I could see their faces, hear their voices and remember the frying fish over the campfire. It took my breath away.

Hwy 6 aspen CO
Highway 6 aspen CO

I loved the trip and took many pictures that I am sure will become paintings in the near future in the studio.

Hwy 06 aspen
Hwy 6 aspen

As we drove north on our way back home to Washington state tears rolled down my face and my heart must of cracked as I said goodbye to the family I was able to experience again.

Black Berries Matter

bowl of blackberries
bowl of blackberries

Black Berries Matter!

We got the starts for our thornless blackberrie bushes from Pete’s parents garden. My sister & brother-in-law (Ann & Dan) made sure we had them before they moved. As I spent time picking berries from our bushes my thoughts returned to past get-togethers and the people gone and some sad sighs escaped me.

But, the berries won’t pick themselves, so I continue on. I marvel at the abundance of fruit on each branch of the bush as I pluck the fully ripe off of each branch. The bucket is filling quickly and I feel thankful as I pick. There are complaining birds in the background letting me know that they would much rather be the ones harvesting these berries.

Remembering the past and how tight budgets were made me realize that these berry bushes were something that Menno Woelk very wisely planted. He chose a thornless variety of dark berries that were known to promote good health. Being without thorns was a great way to make harvesting their bounty enjoyable. The abundance in these hardy bushes provided very well for the family. Blackberry juice, jam, syrup, cobbler, and pie were readily available. Blackberries were so much a part of the Woelk family that when I asked Mom for a recipe to make syrup she simply grabbed a piece of paper and wrote it for me right there. It was a recipe she knew by heart because she cooked it so often.

It is amazing how a fruit can bring back thoughts of love felt at the Christmas gatherings, church programs, singing together and eating fabulous black berry cobblers. Singing Christmas carols for Dad at the hospital. Playing windup planes running around the house with children,  and holding babies. The 3-13 card games always ongoing and Mom crocheting or sewing quilts. Michael and his jeep stories. Stories about Milton and Donny escapades. Marilyn, with Owen gone away so soon.

Yes Black Berries Do Matter

There are an abundance of health articles proclaiming the good effects from including black berries in your diet. Google it and and see. Or better yet just look up some old farmer almanac info and find that the farmers way back when did know what they were doing.

Flowers From the Garden

bouquet 1 in a vase
bouquet in a vase

Unquestionably, there is nothing better than a bouquet of colorful flowers from the garden to brighten up my day. I hurriedly picked this group of flowers as I left the garden yesterday. There are some roses and a wide variety of the large dahlias in this group. I thought the dahlias in my neighbor’s garden (Jennifer Conner) were so beautiful that I took a chance and planted them myself this year. They are gorgeous and I absolutely love them.

bouquet 2 in a vase
bouquet in a vase

The yellow dahlia with red streaks was a casualty of the high winds a couple of days ago. I replanted and stake it but, I am not sure if anymore of these yellow spotted giants will come this year. On the right side is the purple giant dude who is an extravagant heavy blossom.

bouquet 3 in a vase
bouquet in a vase

The soft pink petals are from a “tropicana” rose bush. On the lower right is a fire engine red dahlia. In the middle of the bouquet is a white dahlia with pink edges who is just now beginning to bloom.

bouquet 4 in a vase
bouquet in a vase

Here is the crazy purple dahlia which was the first to bloom for me this year. He reminds me of a bad hair day or just too much moose situation. Beginning with a very dark purple inside, his petals reach out in all directions fading just at their tips to a lighter lavender. He is quite a show stopper!

What Wild Flower is This?

wild flower 02
Unidentified wildflower

Does anyone know what kind of flower this is? Honestly, I have been unable to find out what kind of flower this is and would appreciate any help from people who may know.

wild flower 01
mystery wildflower

I apologize for the focus being on the ground instead of the petals but am still putting this image up to help identify it.

wild flower 03
What wildflower is this?

If anyone out there does know where to concentrate my search it would be greatly appreciated by me as a real time saver. If curiosity killed the cat I’d already be dead.

Oh Say Can You See?

upper side of property
upper side of property


How did those surveyors back in Lewis & Clarks time do this mapping of the land?

How do you map out the lines between the property corner markers when you can’t see where the other end is?  Us amateurs began with walking as straight as possible, using a chain saw to clear a “best-guess” path. Planting rebar posts with flags on the hilltops and tying yellow flags in the trees, so we can see. Hours of cutting bush and dead-fall tree trunks, stacking the resulting brush in piles to shred later. So much fun! Not!

wild flower
What wildflower is this?

Upper side of the property…

Fire Breaks

Finally, we are able to take bailing twine and stretch it out to see where our “straight-line” should be. We discover that we were off (way-off) as the twine line goes into a zig zag pattern, turning as it hits trees along the way. Dang, we must have walked the line hundreds of times before we finally got a clear path on the upper slope of the property. We ended up clearing a great “fire break” by the time we got the line straight between those two property corners. Brush is a tenacious thing to conquer.

Clearing the worst area first makes the sides and front of our property seem easier. With the brush removed and the line set, we now only have to dig a 2″ deep ditch to set the wire in, placing flags at 12′ apart on it. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

Remember those muscles in your hands, arms and between the shoulder blades on the back? We have 10 acres here with four sides 660 feet long. Spend a day swinging a mallot (I can’t) to dig a 2 inch deep ditch along one side of the land and you will definitely remember these muscles too!

Next, we look forward to retraining the dogs on where they can go without getting shocked  by their collars. We can anticipate walking the border with them until they learn.

Who prayed that we would get in shape this year?

Stop it, whoever you are!!!

Where Oh Where did that marker go?

south border Pete
Pete clearing the south border

As this project gets more and more INTERESTING we are finding that not all survey markers are created equal.

Getting Fit

It must be time for our legs to get into hiking shape. After the intense medical stuff last year for me, this type of work seems really challenging to me. We used our GPS and phone apps as we clamored over boulders and through brush trying to find the forth little metal stake.  Chain saw in hand. But, we encountered problems with the trees blocking access to the satellites. Where is that fourth marker?

Multiple days of sweating were followed by us calling our neighbor to  help us locate our shared marker. He walked us right to it, leaving both of us feeling quite stupid right then.

As you can see, this marker was a unique hidden little bugger. What does a land surveyor do when he can’t find any ground to plant a stake in. Why, of course he puts a small nail in the boulder formation, then marks it with a piece of rebar at the base of the rocks. Um Huh. Unfortunately, over the years layers of moss and forest debris accumulate on the boulder making it virtually impossible to see the little nail in the rock.

I’ll be sure to get a picture of that little bugger for the next post.