An Invasion of Rhubarb and a Recipe

My rhubarb plants are in a class by themselves. If you give them an inch, they will take over the whole yard. The plants are four feet tall and six feet wide with leaves two feet across and stalks are almost five inches around.  I’ve divided them several times in the seven years they have lived here. Their diminutive parents live a controlled life in a neighbor’s yard and I have a friend who has managed to grow bonsai rhubarb; the stalks are the size of a pencil with leaves like baby mittens.

I read about rhubarb and discovered “rhubarb is a heavy feeder”. My rhubarb could qualify for “Over-Eaters Anonymous”. You might think that I have heaped fertilizer and water on them, but I haven’t. They just grow…and grow. The lower leaves end up in the compost, but a couple of times a summer I’ll make a rhubarb custard pie. One of my favorite recipes is for Rhubarb Nectar. Let me know if you make it. I’m happy to share if you would like some stalks, or a plant…or two.

Sketching the Alaska Forget-Me-Not

Alaska’s State flower is the Forget-Me-Not. It is such a simple and delicate little flower ranging in color from pale to deep blue and even shades of pink. With a gentle fragrance of baby powder, it is one of my favorite flowers.

I’ve been taking part in a fellow artist’s “75 Day Sketching Challenge” and the last several sketches posted have been part of the challenge. Some artists are sharing every sketch on their blogs, but you really don’t want to see some of my experiments. My first sketch of the Forget-Me-Not looked like I had run them over with the car before I sketched them. They were very sad.

Fishing and Sketching in Prince William Sound

Alaska has been cold and rainy this summer, but my husband and I decided to go fishing with our boat in Prince William Sound this week anyway. The forecast called for calm seas and rain, but this might be as good as it gets with our short summer.

We dropped three shrimp pots into about 400 feet of water and brought home some beautiful shrimp to have on Father’s Day. We fished for halibut, but didn’t get even a nibble. We came upon several icebergs. Here is a photo of one. We watched as it rolled over. It groaned and creaked as it turned and the seagulls seem to enjoy the ride.

We came upon a seiner with a man waving us over. He and his friends were “dead in the water”; without power and a dead battery. They were unable to even drop anchor because it requires electricity to run the hydraulics. First, my husband gave them gas for their little generator in an attempt to charge the battery, but that didn’t work. Then he gave them our extra battery to see if it would turn over the starter. That didn’t work. We floated next to them as the skipper climbed into the crow’s nest to call his wife on his cell phone since his radio also runs on electricity and his handheld radio didn’t reach the Coast Guard in Valdez. It was amusing to listen as he convinced her to send the Coast Guard for help. We went on our way, but kept in radio contact until we saw the Coast Guard boat on their way to tow them back to Valdez.

On the morning we left, the sun peeked through the clouds and we walked on the beach. We picked the shrimp pots and my husband fished while I sketched.

On our way home, we stopped and these little wild sweet peas were growing in the gravel by the side of the road. I picked some and sketched them as my husband drove. Their colors are so rich. I used an ink that is water-based so it blends a bit when I added the watercolor over the top. I actually like to sketch in a moving vehicle as long as their aren’t many curves in the road. The pen just bounces happily along with the bumps.

My Way or the Highway-Wildflowers in the Rain

Sketching has been between rain showers this week. Sometimes I’ve sketched flowers on the deck through the window. The wildflowers aren’t complaining. Maybe I’ll take a lesson.

The Fairy Slipper is such a beautiful flower with a scent similar to Lily of the Valley. This image didn’t reproduce very well. They are a very beautiful pink.

I’ve been working on a watercolor demo for you. It is in editing. Ha! That means it is in pieces on my computer and I need to learn the program to put it together. Since I might come up with a million reasons not to learn a new program, maybe I should take you on a sketch walk with me and not bother with the editing detail. Where would you like to go? Or should I surprise you?

I’ve been following a beautiful blog called Dixon Hill Diary by Helen who lives in West Yorkshire in the UK. Her photography and writing are fabulous. I’m Helen’s guest blogger this week for her Changing Places series. I hope you take a look at her work.

My Way or the Highway-the Lake

Having only found lichens and bare trees to sketch since the snow melted, I walked beside the lake, hopeful of finding the first spring flowers. Crocus buds and blossoms had just bloomed and I sat among them, happily sketching while raindrops pattered around me and on the paper. I walked a few steps toward the lake and sat to sketch it as a background for the wildflowers. When I was almost done, I heard a splash like a body falling into the water, then I heard another. I didn’t hear any gasps or cries like I knew there would be if humans were jumping in a lake where ice had been days ago. Then I heard the muffled voices of the swans. They were talking to each other in that lovely low honk, honk they do right after landing. I looked around a tree and there they were, white against the dark water. I must admit that I was feeling a bit hesitant to sketch them because they are so beautiful and I could so easily make them ugly. I started with the one on the right and thought, “I’ll never get the other one” when it stuck its head under water to feed. I never thought about that pose, but it saved me from drawing two swan heads. The texture in the background is from the raindrops falling on the paper. Who needs an umbrella?