New Year’s Eve 2016


The Christmas snows have melted away. Now on New Year’s Eve Day the world is whitening again. We are safe at home, playing very old games, some so old that we are having to relearn them to teach the younger family members. All good fun! Eldest daughter has had to stay longer for the highways are not safe, especially through the mountain passes.

May your celebrations be safe and joyful! Happy New Year, everyone! May it be a better year than 2016 has been for so many.

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

last week’s trip




Husband and I took a lovely little trip to Vancouver Island this past week to see our family. Our middle daughter with husband and our dear granddaughters had moved in November from their lake cottage to a farm in the idyllic gentle rolling valleys of Saanich, north of Victoria. Though husband had been there to help with their move, especially with their chickens and coop, this was my first visit.

Being January it did rain on and off but on our first afternoon we were lucky to have a dry spell so we could have a bit of a walk around the farm (owned by their landlords) with its extensive herb plantings, vegetables, trees and most delightful goats, one producing delicious milk, a couple of astoundingly handsome guard dogs and egg laying chickens. I wish my photos of the animals were better but they just did not stay still.

The valley below is beautiful though I was able to only capture a wee bit of it to show here as the sun was lowering in the sky. The camera did not see much action, but there will be another time! We also had short visits with two sets of friends who used to live in our neighbourhood on this side of the Salish Sea. It was a happy week away and just what we needed after that most awful and long cold over the holidays.

Added later: you may be interested in visiting Elisa’s beautiful blog: appleturnover

frost flowers




This rare sunny morning, while I was sleeping in, my husband took several photos of the rare gorgeous frost fractals on the sloping skylights in our solarium. What a lovely gift to ring in the holiday season after weeks of extreme rain and windstorms. Even the mountain tops are capped with white icing. We are to expect more of these storms in this El NiƱo year.

Fortunately so far our neighbourhood has not had the severe flooding nor power outages that are sadly happening in many areas of the Pacific Northwest, despite a warning flicker now and then. The storms are of course stronger over open coastal regions often forcing cancellations of ferries and small plane flights. This happened to dear friends from Victoria visiting us last weekend which meant they had to spend the night with us, and a pleasure it was.

I wish all friends and readers a happy and safe pre-holiday period! We hope that no storms affect your holiday plans. More later….



Colchicum autumnale or fall crocus now blooming in my garden

A massive windstorm at the end of August seemed like a signal that summer is over. Powerful winds all over southwest BC created havoc with trees blown over and power outages to over 500,OOO homes. We nervously watched our two very tall evergreens shaking wildly but, other than a lot of dry needles, small branches and shredded green bits blown everywhere, they and our house survived. Our own neighbourhood got off lightly except for the internet being down for a day or so. Greatest damage seemed to have been in areas with predominantly very tall leafy trees. The tops acted like giant sails to catch the powerful wind and with dry roots from our summer’s drought, were ripped right out of the ground and onto houses, cars and powerlines. The Hydro workers were out there for several days and nights cleaning up and restoring power – they deserve our deepest thanks.

Lots of rain followed – a blessing! And it’s back to summery weather, with some days like Indian summer. We’ve enjoyed having our almost 15-year-old granddaughter visiting. I continue to be a lazy blogger, and am now also down with a bit of flu, so I continue to enjoy reading books and ignoring housework and studio! Used to be, at the beginning of September I would be going back to the print studio at our nearby university – I still miss that. Fall gardening now beckons as soon as I’m better.

smoky and hot


the northeast sky at 4:22 am today

this record breaking hot dry summer continues into its third month
with only a few wee drops of rain, how we need more!
a week of dirty brown skies like a fog sat over the city
from numerous forest fires around our province

I water the parched garden, read, watch movies on DVDs
’tis hard to do much work such as cleaning the house for visitors coming soon
or to find motivation to go into the studio in these dog days of summer
should we migrate to the far north like some birds?

Added July 20th, as of tomorrow, watering restrictions have been tightened even further: Watering vegetable gardens, established flowers, trees and shrubs is still allowed, but only by hand using a spring-loaded shut-off nozzle.

We have not watered our lawns at all this summer and our car remains filthy. Time to put buckets in our showers, short as they are. While waiting for the hot water to come, I fill the indoor watering can in the kitchen sink. And save the dishwater! Pray or do a rain dance!

magnolia seedpods


Numerous seedpods like this appear under the magnolia trees every year after the gorgeous flowers finish. I’m used to seeing them underfoot on the lawn but haven’t looked at them REALLY closely, until the other day when we were sitting under the backyard tree, seeking some shade from the hot sun. I picked up a few of these underfoot and felt curious and inspired to scan them, as I often do with intriguing things I pick up.



What a wondrous surprise – the furry bases, the pattern of circles and the scale-like shapes that remind me of some ancient classical architectural features!


I am sorry to have been so silent on these pages for so long; I can’t believe I wrote only one post in June. This long-lasting heat wave has made me very sluggish, it takes all my energy keeping our garden watered. Thoughts of California-like droughts and forest fires are on our minds here in BC after our mild snowless winter and exceptionally warm and dry spring. We had something like 3 mm. rain in May and about the same in June and the long range forecast continues the same.

I have missed posting about the summer solstice as I usually do and now, today is Canada Day! Happy 148th Birthday, Canada!

seaside lichens




A few more photos from the rainforest by the Pacific —lots o’ lovely lichen!

I’m still busy uploading more images of my work to my ‘gallery’. It is slow going as I deal with the oldest printworks from early days before I started using documentation sheets for each piece. I have to pull out those from the flat files to measure them and note the techniques and the paper. I’m also discovering not all those early works were even captured on film. Those were the days we had to have them as slides, which were not all very good, needing much colour correction when scanning. It’s been on my long-running to-do list to catch up with those undocumented works so having this website is just the right incentive. Onward!

at the lake



As I mentioned a while ago, in early March we went to visit our family in the Victoria area after our west coast retreat. They live in a cottage next to a lovely small lake where I always take pleasure in taking a few photos. Above is a rare-at-this-time-of-year lily pad and a view of the mirror-like lakeshore.



interesting details from the woodpile, sections of a recently felled tree….
a piece of twined willow….free-ranging chickens




… and a basket of lichens by the door

driftwood on Chesterman





Still on the westcoast of Vancouver Island, Chesterman Beach is the next one over from sheltered McKenzie Beach and is much wider and open to the wild sea storms that occur from time to time. Naturally it’s very popular with surfers – perhaps later I’ll post some images of them that my husband captured. I love this beach for the driftwood lining the shore next to the trees and private cottages. As always I’m particularly intrigued by close up details.