this February


Oh my, we are already entering the last week of February. This is a month of anniversaries and birthdays at Chez Rathje. First of the month saw the 12th anniversary of this blog, now limping along in its old age. Then there was one of those Big 0 birthdays for yours truly (also limping along, heh), alongside Valentine’s/Friendship Day, for which I received a big beautiful bouquet of deep red roses from my sweetheart. His birthday by the way is coming up soon as well. Here are the first of the roses to wither, still too gorgeous to discard and thus captured into memory.

In the garden, the snowdrops finished a while ago, the crocuses came out early, one pot of hellebores is in bloom and the mini daffodils and pale pink camellia are opening up. We have had a mild winter with no snow at sea level though lots on the mountains. Having grown up in Winnipeg, I still marvel at this early spring on the westcoast!

Related: see some photos from February 2013

news about St. Michael’s


Some readers may recall my posts about our fall 2013 island hopping trip along some of our BC coast, and particularly about Alert Bay where we saw St. Michael’s Indian Residential School. Though that terrible place was eventually closed in 1974, it was left standing as a haunting memorial to those many First Nations children who had lived there.

Now there is news that it will be demolished this month. I only learned this when the reporter requested permission to use my photo for the report in The Prince George Citizen. This has reawakended in me some of those feelings of shock, sadness and horror in seeing it, though nothing like those feelings surely experienced by the families that were affected, so I wish and hope this demolition will bring some peace for them.

Added Feb.15th, 2015: more in CBC/BC News and Global News, the latter with a photo taken in 1970.

Added Feb.19th: Alert Bay residential school survivors gather for the demolition ceremony, in the Globe & Mail, with interesting additional links and video which includes views of the interior of the building.

Plus this heart-rending and heartwarming story and video on The Tyee .

rain forest



My husband captured these images on one of his bicycle rides on the trails along the Seymour River on the mountain slopes of the North Shore of Vancouver. To me, there is something magical, otherworldly and captivating about these scenes. They make me think of some north European Romantic paintings of the early 19th century. We are so fortunate to have all this beauty in our backyard.

back from Victoria


All has been quiet on this blog while we were away visiting family and friends in Victoria. We had a late mini-Christmas with our daughter’s family. We caught up with their happy fat chickens and growing kittens which were keeping them close to home. One day we took the granddaughters to Miniature World which we all enjoyed very much and wondered why we had never visited it before in the many trips over many decades that we’ve made to Victoria, even when our own children were young. The grandgirls took numerous photos, as I did (but lost mine, more on that later).

We also had a nice visit with our dear friends. While the guys were out for a cycle tour, Elaine and I enjoyed a truly stunning exhibition of wildlife photography at the Royal BC Museum. No photos allowed here.

Our trip home on the evening ferry was accompanied by frequent toots of the foghorn, ever increasing as we neared the mainland. We could have used that foghorn on our foggy drive home. It was a good trip but it’s always great to be home again.

Regarding photos… I took many around our family’s home, of the lovely low fog movements over the lake, interesting details in the garden, the chickens, and many many at Miniature World. My little old camera was often acting a bit wonky. Once home I was unable to download them using two different cardreaders. There also seemed to be issues with the photo program so I tried another computer. In the end after all the fiddling I lost the photos, probably by removing the reader improperly! That’s a first. My computer and software are ageing, updates are leaving it behind, sigh. We have some work to do there. Naturally I’m disappointed at the loss of photo material ideal for the blog. So, since I do like to illustrate my posts, I’ve chosen the above image from the archives.

busy time of year


It has been a week of hard work cleaning house, putting up the door wreath and a few lights outdoors and doing some baking.


It’s a start on getting ready for Christmas but first we had weekend guests, our dearest friends who always bring flowers or a lovely plant, this time a stephanotis with heavenly scent! New to me, what a delight!


Now to the Christmas letters, cards and some gifts to go in the mail. I thought I was making an nice early start a couple of weeks ago when I was about to do a test print of my card design for this year. As I fired up the printer, a little plastic gear fell out in little pieces and the paper feeder would not work. Husband hopes to repair it if he finds the part and a repair manual but it won’t be in time for the mailing. So, we will be handwriting cards and letters, just like the good ol’ days, eh! My handwriting has become atrocious but at least I have lots of extra cards from past years, some my own, some commercial. These days more and more of us correspond by email which lessens the handwriting chore and those trips to the post office. But I do still love real cards and letters.

And how are your holiday preparations coming along?

clouds at eventide


Recently my husband got me an iPhone, a used older model for emergencies or quick contact when away from home. I’m still new with this technology. One of the things that intrigued me is the camera and the quality of the photos. I’ve seen others using Instagram for processing and sharing photos and like some of the results I see out there though I’m not interested in the sharing aspects. I am just trying it out. The above photo is one I’m rather pleased with, a capture of the southwest sky last week from the back deck, and using some of the Instagram filters. (You would not like the black rain clouds around here now!)


While thinking about posting the top photo, I came across an odd envelope tucked in with some old Christmas cards. Inside were some photos of my children when very young as well as the above scenic shot, which I think was taken decades ago on a beach in Denmark. The ‘instagram’ look, caused by aging I know, made it a timely find so without any processing I decided to add it here to compare.

These are to also show that I do look up at the sky often, not just down at what is underfoot, as I’m often teased about! And I like the old English word eventide, just right for these images, I think.

good reading


This fall’s rainy days and dark evenings have been perfect to cosy up with some good books. Here’s a short list of some that I have been enjoying:

1. Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos – this review says it all for me, though perhaps reveals too much of the story. Chapter 25 was most compelling for me with its vivid description of the creative process of breaking and remaking. This book was recommended by a reader in a comment to one of my many posts on broken china. The image above is a reposting of one such “break”.

2. How Many Roads? by Jonathan Sa’adah is a gorgeous book of his stunning sepia photographs taken in the late 60s and early 70s. My husband and I enjoyed revisiting that time from our youth when from a distance we read and heard about what was happening below the border from us in Canada. Wonderful essays too. We highly recommend it. Order from Phoenicia Publishing. We are very pleased to support our friends Jonathan and Beth Adams and to have this treasure to remember them by.

3. I wrote about Emily Carr recently and felt inspired to reread, afer many decades, her books Klee Wyck and The House of All Sorts – such sweet pleasures still underway.

Hello October




Burtynsky at VAG

Yesterday we finally went out to see A Terrible Beauty: Edward Burtynsky which is in its last week at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It is a focused survey of photographs the artist produced between 1983 and 2013, and represents all key bodies of his work, such as early series of homestead and rail line photographs shot in British Columbia in the early 1980s, his documentation of the extraordinary growth and transformation of China in the past decade and a new, groundbreaking international project that is focused on the subject of water.

What a stunning exhibition with forty-four of this Canadian artist’s work, some of which I’ve seen in the past. The works are so very beautiful aesthetically, yet very shocking and disturbing once we realize what we are really looking at — the many examples of massive destruction of so much of this earth by industry, railroads, farming and other human activity.

Burtynsky is very particular about his images and does a great deal of research, planning and eventual manipulation on his photographs before printing in very large format. Sometimes they even look like paintings and they are all works of art, not just documentary photographs.

Most of Burtynsky’s exhibited photography (pre 2007) was taken with a large format field camera on large 4×5-inch sheet film and developed into high-resolution, large-dimension prints of various sizes and editions ranging from 18 x 22 inches to 60 x 80 inches. He often positions himself at high-vantage points over the landscape using elevated platforms, the natural topography, and more currently helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft… In 2007 he began using a high-resolution digital camera. (from wikipedia)

The timing of our visit did not work out for us to see his two films “The Manufactured Landscape” and “Watermark”.

Do visit Edward Burtynsky’s extensive website!


– watch the video above or on Vancouver Art Gallery’s site with an introduction by the artist and Bruce Grenville, Senior Curator

– another video and an excellent interview by Kevin Griffin in the Vancouver Sun, discussing the artist’s process

– a good article in Galleries West magazine, Spring 2014 issue, pages 32-26

– check out my previous posts in June 2004, May 2005, October 2006. Some links have since expired.

ADDED May 2nd: Our daughter Erika visited this exhibition with us. Please read her profound thoughts on it here.

February snow


It’s been snowing here, now on its third day. As we live near sea level it is wet snow leaving little on the ground or on the trees. Higher up there is lots of it. A father-daughter hike on the mountainside with photos to share at home – beautiful!