Friday 30 June 2017

What No Mowing Looks Like

    Readers know that I like flowers, so it when I mow the yard and see wild flowers coming up, I usually mow around them so they will bloom.  That is what I did to the section of our lawn that you see in the photo.  I didn’t mow it at all this season.
    First the Forget-me-nots came up, then the daisies, then the small violet flowers that I don’t remember the name of.  Unfortunately as time passes, the flowers move past their prime and start looking ratty, and other less desirable things start to take over.  In my case it was the yellow and invasive Hawkweed that I blogged about earlier.   You can see it in the distance.
    Once it gets to that point, It is time to mow all the wildflowers down.   Now I will have to wait until next year before I hopefully will see the display again.  
    I suspect that those obsessed with carpet-like lawns will find this photo disturbing, but I like to see the variation of wildflowers that naturally come up in my lawn, and I know that the bees enjoy them.

You can view my paintings at:

Thursday 29 June 2017


    This morning when I walked out open the greenhouse, the sun was just peaking over the mountain.  There was a light mist in the air and the light beaming down was backlighting the lupines and other plants.  It was a nice effect that you can see in the photo.
    Backlighting has been the source of a lot of my favorite  photos.  In the photo above, it adds a nice atmospheric effect, while in some of my backlit leaf shots, it emphasizes the color and the structure of the plant.  But be careful, try and shoot your backlit subjects against a darker background and not a bright sky; which will silhouette your subject, and give you a photo where your subject image is way too dark.
     Anyway, keep your eyes open so you can recognize interesting backlit subjects when you are walking around with your camera.

You can view my paintings at:

Wednesday 28 June 2017


    Nature follows a schedule, one species of flower blooms, fades, then another species puts on a show.  At present the foxglove is current attraction in our vegetable garden.  They spread their seeds every year and new ones come up in the late summer.  Their growth is interrupted by winter, but they survive the cold under the blanket of snow and are ready in the spring to start growing again.
     Early this spring I dug up all the little plants that were scattered all over our vegetable garden and replanted them in a row, so I could rototill and plant my veggies.  
    Foxglove sure have a beautiful blooms with the gradient of color along the column of flowers.  The colored dots on the inside of the lip of the flower is also a nice touch.  

You can see my paintings at:

Tuesday 27 June 2017

My Fern Feature

    In 2011, I had a big spruce tree crack open an fall on my barn crushing its roof.  Although the tree always looked very healthy, it was rotten inside.  It took me a couple of years to completely reconstruct the barn and clean up all of the spruce pieces.  After all that work, I was left with a big stump with rot in the middle and a couple of spruce chunks at the edge of our yard.
    I decided to arrange the pieces around the stump and then I went out into the woods and dug up some ferns and planted them in soil that I had put in the hollowed stump and pieces.  Over the years the ferns have adapted to their new home.  I bought a light green Hosta which I planted  in front as an accent.  This is what my “Fern Feature” looks like now.

You can view my paintings at:

Monday 26 June 2017


    Just as the five of us were about to enter a new section of the bush for another sweep, a van pulled up on the Little Falls Pit Road.  It was Mike Monroe, local farmer and horseman.  He told us that he had done some searching yesterday on the other side of the highway and had spotted some horse droppings, although he couldn’t tell that they were very recent.  He also said he thought he smelled a horse.
    Since we had found absolutely no evidence of the horse on our side of the highway, I suggested we go over to where Mike had done some searching.  There we found an old logging trail perpendicular to the highway that was all over grown, and the five of us walked down the skid road a bit, then at a random spot we spread out and started a sweep through the bush down toward the Holmes River.
    Again we saw no signs of a horse, but suddenly I heard a yell from my right flank.  
    “She’s here!”
    When the horse heard the sound of the human voice she quickly made her way through the thick bush towards him.  Dancer the horse was happy to rejoin human beings after 6 days on her own.  She didn’t show any signs of injury, although her bridle was gone.
    I sent a text message to the search organizer and we slowly made our way back to the skid trail, then toward the highway.  Before we made it to the highway, we were met by a handful of other searchers including Dawn, the horses owner.  It was an emotional reunion.
    It was amazing to me that we stumbled upon the horse in all that vast area.  The point we chose to start our search was just made by random, and had we started in another place or walked another angle through the forest, the horse might have been missed.  It was very lucky.
    Dawn thanked everyone many times, but it was rewarding enough just to have a successful outcome to our search.
    Below, a relieved Dawn phones to tell that her horse was found.

My paintings can be seen at:

Sunday 25 June 2017

Search for a Missing Horse

    Pete from Dunster puts out an email every night with notices, things for sale, and items people are looking for.  It has a huge following among local people.  Five days ago he published this notice:  

    Please help if you can! My beautiful grey mare bolted five days ago up above little falls pit road (west side of Holmes river). She headed down the mountain. We have been searching but no sign of her. Horse people and friends and neighbors. We could use more manpower for our search. I would say she's trying to get home so please be on the lookout.  She's wearing a saddle and bridle.

    It was a distressing call for help.  The request was repeated for the next 5 days.  Then came this notice:

                                    SEARCH FOR MISSING HORSE CONTINUES !
    We will be meeting at the Little Falls pit west of the Beaver River tomorrow Saturday June 24th at 1 p.m. to continue the search for Dawn's mare Dancer. If anyone would like to help, please bring bear spray, a pocket knife, and sensible walking clothes (bright colours)/shoes to hike in dense bush.
It's been five days since the mare went missing. We really need to find her.

    It was a heart-wrenching plea, and so I thought I would go out and help in the search.  I gathered up my old compass and some of my other forestry gear and drove out to the Little Falls pit.  There I met up with about eight other people who were going to search.  Many of them have been searching for days, and they were full of stories, about seeing so much bear poop in the bush, and falling into swampy areas.  No one had seen any signs of the missing horse.
    It also sounded like just about all the area surrounding the pit had been already searched, sometimes more than once.  There were also 3 drones, a helicopter, and an airplane that also flew over the surrounding area but no white horse was seen.
    I ended up with four other people and we decided to search the corner of bush between the pit and the Homes River and the highway.  Since I had a compass I took a bearing cutting through the area and walked the bearing with the rest of the group spread out on either side of me all keeping themselves within eye contact with their neighbors or yelling so they could continually orient themselves to everyone else.
    Thrashing myself through the bush with a compass  in hand really took me back to my Forest Service days when  I did timber cruising.  The bush was thick, and no one saw any signs of a horse.  Once we made it down to the river, we reoriented ourselves downstream a bit and then worked our way back up toward the pit, surveying another section of the forest.  Again no sign of Dancer.
    While those searches didn’t come up with the missing horse,  I did spot a couple of camera-worthy plants to photograph.  One was a Coralroot orchid and the other a plant whose common name is “Goat’s Beard”
    Back up to the pit, my group then decided to walk down the pit road closer to the highway for our next sweep of bush, however just as we spread out to enter the woods, a vehicle came driving up the road so we held off to see whether that meant some updated news.

This story will continue on tomorrow’s blog

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Saturday 24 June 2017

Geriatric Poppy

    Above is a photo of an over mature poppy flower that has dropped some of it’s petals.  This orange poppy is growing in our garden and has been doing so for decades.  In fact, this same poppy plant was doing its thing and growing way back when we bought the house in 1977.
    I don’t know what the life span of a poppy plant is, but surely 40 years must be pretty impressive.  It is surprising to me that even though this poppy clearly likes where it is growing,  it has never put out any new poppy offspring.  Maybe it isn’t finding the right pollinators?

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Friday 23 June 2017

Cow Heaven

    I noticed these cows grazing in the lush grass the other day, and then thought about all those cows that I have seen trying to eke out a meal in those arid desert-like sage brush plains in the western parts of the US and I have to say, I would much rather be a cow in the Robson Valley.  
    I have always noticed this hill that is right beside Highway 16 East of McBride and been tempted to stop and take a photo of it with the mountains in the background but I never did.  Having the cows present finally made me pull over and snap a photo.

My paintings are on display at:

Thursday 22 June 2017

The Green Lushness of Summer

    Now that it is officially summer, it means that the days will begin to shorten up in the slow march to winter, so we’d better take time to appreciate of all the plants while they are in their prime.  This morning after I went up to the barn to get a can of sunflower seeds to put into the bird feeder, I glanced down at the house and reveled in all the green lushness of what I saw.  
    I didn’t have my camera with me so I had to walk back to the house to get it, then I walked back up to the driveway and took this picture of all the leafy green that surrounds us.

You can see my paintings at

Wednesday 21 June 2017

"Damn Deer"--My Latest Painting

    Here is the painting I have been working on since the middle of December.  After 118 hours I have finished it.  It shows what was left of one of my red cabbages after a deer got into the garden and decided to help himself.  I have always loved the folds and curls of a cabbage when you cut into it.  Natasha Boyd, an older local artist now deceased did a painting of the interior of a red cabbage that I always like, and finding this one in the garden, complete with raindrops on the leaves gave me an excuse to do my own painting.
    It was done with acrylics on a 20” x 30” canvas.  

You can see all of my paintings at:

Tuesday 20 June 2017

In the Clouds

    A lot of showery weather comes off the Pacific Ocean and across BC in June.  That is what we have been experiencing lately.  Here is a photo of what the Cariboo Mts. looked like this morning.

You can take a look at my paintings:

Monday 19 June 2017

Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Well, Okay

    Joan spotted these pigs out eating in a daisy-filled field the other day.  I don’t know if they were actually eating the daisies or not.  I think daisies are considered a noxious weed because most livestock won’t touch them.  Noxious weed or not, I always enjoy seeing the cheerful white and yellow-centered flowers.

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Sunday 18 June 2017

Hawkweed: Finding Beauty in an Invader

    Hawkweed is an invasive plant that has in the last 20 years, spread over a lot of the land in the Robson Valley.  I hate it.  It is so good at growing that it has squeezed out and taken over big sections of my lawn.  Once it has established itself, it prevents all other plants from growing there.  It comes in two colors; yellow and orange. 
    While I have an immense dislike for the weed, I do find the flower of the orange variety beautiful.  Unfortunately my property is covered with the yellow kind which are very plain and uninteresting.  I have only found one plant of the orange variety growing on my property.  I wish it would spread and take over the yellow, but that seems unlikely.
    The photo of hawkweed below was taken in the playing field at the Dunster school.  

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Saturday 17 June 2017

Kiwa Creek

    On Thursday we drove to Valemount to get the yearly vet checkup for the dog.  On our trip home we decided to take the slower route back, theTete Jaune/Croyden Road.  We hadn’t been down this road for a couple of decades.  The high point of the trip was seeing Kiwa Creek, a roaring and tumbling mountain waterway.
    I stopped after we crossed the narrow bridge without safety barriers and walked back to take some photos.  Above you see downstream and below is the view upstream from the bridge.

You can see my paintings at

Friday 16 June 2017

Robert Frear

    During McBride’s 2014 Pioneer Days celebration, one of the big antique trucks that was due to be in the parade couldn’t get its engine started.  Someone (probably Robert Frear) came up with the idea of having it towed down the Main Street parade route.  They put the truck into neutral, and attached it to Robert’s 4-wheel drive wheelchair and Robert towed the truck in the parade.  I thought it was just a stunt to make it look like it was being towed, but it was real.
    I was saddened yesterday when I heard that Robert had died.  He was a remarkable guy with vast amount of knowledge in just about every subject.  When I was working for the BC Forest Service, Robert worked in the cubby hole next to mine.  He was the head of our districts Scaling (measuring, evaluating, and weighing wood for billing).  He was so good at his job that he was moved down to the Ministry of Forest’s Provincial Headquarters in Victoria to work in the Scaling Section there.  While there he was even involved in the Canadian/ US Softwood Lumber Negotiations.
    Robert had an encyclopedic memory and was always good for an interesting story about things that happened during his life;  shady con-artists from the US coming to little isolated McBride with schemes to rip off the local “yahoos” and ending up getting scammed themselves, a local man who spent the night drinking with a friend, deciding at the break of dawn to take his airplane up for a spin, crashing it, and then left unhurt, walking back to town and going to work.  Robert was full of such stories.
    He was very community minded and spent much of his time collecting the history of our community.  He set up a popular McBride history site on Facebook.
    McBride has lost valuable asset.

You can view my paintings at:

Thursday 15 June 2017

Mosquitoes in the House

    Fortunately so far this year, the mosquitoes haven’t been this bad.  I have in the past put up a bed net, but at present it remains at the ready in the closet.  Lately I have been disturbed by only one mosquito during the night, but that can be as frustrating as a few.  
    I have heard it said that anyone who thinks “one individual can’t make a difference” has never tried to sleep with one mosquito in the room.

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Wednesday 14 June 2017

Fraser River Sunset

    We are in to the days of long sunlight.  Last night when I left our jam session, I noticed that the sky had some really nice clouds, but I could find no place in McBride to take a photo because of all the power lines and buildings.  As I drove home, the beautiful sky continued to develop, so when I got to Koeneman Park, I pulled into the parking lot and ran across the park to the river and took these shots.  It was 9:30.

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Tuesday 13 June 2017

I Found A Hummingbird Nest, Sadly

    Hummingbirds breed in the Robson Valley, and I have seen the tiny nests that they build that other people have found.  I have always wished that I would find one, and yesterday I did, but it is a sad story.  I was going to hang some laundry outside to dry, and because it seemed that there might be a chance of showers, instead of hanging the clothes on our regular clothes line, I hung it on the covered line on our balcony.
    I carried the wet clothes upstairs, and began hanging them starting on one end of the clothes line.  I was working my way to the other end, when I noticed that there was something attached to one of the clothes pins that we just keep clipped to the line.  Its grayish color made me think it was a wasp nest.  I went up to investigate and tipped the object sideways so that I could see what it was exactly.
    As I did, something fell from the object at exactly the same time I realized it was a hummingbird nest.  The thing that fell was the tiny egg that it held.  The egg smashed on the floor of the balcony.  I felt awful and still do.  What an unfortunate accident, but the harm had been done and there was no way it could be undone.
    I took a photo of the tiny nest, neatly made of lichen and moss, after putting a dime inside of it so you could get an idea of the size.
    Wildlife is so important to me and I try so hard to help it along in this world seemingly bent on destroying it.  It is so disheartening whenever something like this inadvertently happens.

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Monday 12 June 2017

Old McBride Postcard

    We moved to McBride way back in 1977.  After we moved in we were excited to show our families and friends the tiny village nestled in the Canadian Rockies where we had decided to establish our lives.  We could find only this postcard of McBride to send them.  We knew it had been taken only a few years earlier because we recognized the blue truck with canopy that belonged to some friends of ours, and of course the building looked the same.
    Fortunately our village has changed its appearance since this photo was taken.  We have the same buildings, except the Alpine Cafe (the brown and red one on the left) which burned down, but the rest are still here and have all been given an attractive face-lift.

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Sunday 11 June 2017

Ancient Forests Cartoony Image

    About a month ago I was asked if I could come up with an image of some old people in the Ancient Forest with the wording “McBride, BC, Gateway to the Ancient Forest”.  The thing was to be used to promote McBride on T-shirts.  After a couple of weeks of thinking about it and a few days of drawing the idea out, this is what I came up with.
    I used some of my many photos of the Ancient Forest to draw the big trees and then added the figures of old people.  Some thought the leaves were Maple leaves, but anyone who has spent much time in the Ancient Forest might recognize them as Devil’s Club, a really nasty spiny plant that grows in abundance on the dark moist forest floor.

You can view my paintings at:

Saturday 10 June 2017

Photoshopping the Jam

    Our jam session was asked to play for an hour during McBride’s recent Pioneer Days celebration.  It was a bit out of our comfort zone to be playing to the public, instead of just for ourselves, but it went well and it was gratifying so see that during a couple of songs members of the audience actually got up and danced.
    Anyway, I wanted a photo of our big performance and remembered that local photographer Matthew Wheeler had done some video recording during the event, so I sent him an email and asked if he would send me some photos of our group playing.  This he generously did and when I looked at the photos I noticed that because we were so spread out across the front of the pavilion, to get all of us in the picture he had to take the shot from far away.  This didn’t make for a very good photo, and so I decided to do a little creative “photoshopping” of the picture.
    I have used Photoshop for many years for my cartoons, so I knew how to use the basic tools in the software.  I set to work with the program to try and move members of our jam closer together, by cutting and pasting, adding and subtracting backgrounds and foregrounds in the photo.  Above you can see my photoshopped results.  Below is the original picture.
    You hear a lot of negative comments in the media about “photoshopped” pictures, most of which refer to distorting the appearance of people, and while I did distort reality of the venue a bit, I didn’t change the people as they played, I just consolidated what was there by moving the people closer together.  
    I always find it interesting to compare the original photo to a photoshopped result and in this case it really changed the dynamics of a picture.   Just by changing the space between people, and cropping the shot to eliminate unnecessary background and foreground, the musicians become more of the focus of the shot, thus giving the photo more energy.  (There was plenty of energy during the performance, afterwards I was exhausted and came home and slept for an hour.)
    Please note that we did have more than two in the audience, it was a big space and they just happened to be in the very front sitting on a picnic table, and so got included in the photo.

You can see my paintings:

Thursday 8 June 2017

More Lupine

    Yesterday I wrote about my efforts not to take any more photos of my lupines.  You can see from the pictures on today’s blog that I have failed.

You can see my paintings, including one of a lupine at:

Wednesday 7 June 2017


    The lupines that edge the path around the pond are blooming.  Every year I can’t help but take photos of them, so I probably have hundreds of images.  This year I have been trying to resist the urge, knowing I already have so many photos, but yesterday I saw this one which was unusual because  the long column of blooms was bent, which mad for a nice composition.
    I always love the subtle gradient of colors from the bottom of the blooms to the top.

You can view my paintings at:

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Photos From Two Evenings

    I think morning light and evening light make for the most interesting photos, so its always worthwhile to keep looking at the sky.  Here are two pictures I took on the last couple of evenings.

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Monday 5 June 2017

McBride Quilt Show

    One of the many events going on in McBride’s Pioneer Days was the annual quilt show.  a spectrum of dazzling colors from all of the quilts filled the room, but I of course zeroed in to the two quilts Joan had on show.  This was her first year at the show and she had a finished quilt she called “Minnie’s Scraps” (made up of pieces from shirts, skirts, and blankets originating from my family) hanging on display, while she demonstrated her hand-quilting on the postage stamp quilt she had been working on.
    All of the other quilts on display were machine-quilted, which seems to be the modern trend, but I am happy that Joan has been doing it the old fashioned, tedious, finger-puncturing, hand-quilting way.

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Sunday 4 June 2017

Pioneer Day's Parade

    Yesterday McBride held its annual Pioneer Days parade.  As usual it started out with the wailing of sirens from fire trucks followed by police cars.  Then came several floats with participants throwing candy or squirting water on the onlookers.  Antique cars and horses followed.  Community organizations marched down Main Street along with individuals dressed up in costumes.
    Below are photos of the two individuals I liked the best.

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Saturday 3 June 2017

Water Lilies

    The native water lilies are blooming on Horseshoe Lake.  A large portion of the lake’s surface is covered with yellow cup-shaped flowers.  Here are a couple of shots.

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Friday 2 June 2017

Cedar Waxwings

    Yesterday when we were walking Skye down on Horseshoe Lake Road, I saw a family of Cedar Waxwings in the trees.  What beautiful birds they are.  I love the way the coloring on their breast blends from rusty-tan to yellow, not to mention the brilliant black, white, yellow and red accent bits. 
    Unlike most birds I run into, these guys didn’t fly off, but sat there, patiently allowing me to take some photos.

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Thursday 1 June 2017

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin 
      One of the things I like about reading novels is that it puts you into the times, situations, and even bodies of people whose lives are entirely different from my own.   This is especially true of the next book I read.
       It is the fictionalized autobiography of Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, someone you no doubt have never heard of.  She lived in the mid 1800's and was a very well known celebrity of the time.  Her remarkable life began on a Massachusetts farm to modest farm family.  
      Despite this humble beginning, she became a celebrity traveling around the world and hobnobbing with Queen Victoria, President Lincoln, and the wealthy social elites of America. It was her genes that made her famous.  At birth she seemed normal enough, tipping the scales at 6 pounds, but her parents soon began to worry, at the age of ten she weighed only 20 pounds and she was only 24 inches tall. As an adult she was perfectly proportioned although she was only 32 inches in height and weighed 29 pounds.  The title of this book is The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin.  
      Despite her tiny size, Lavinia attended the local rural school with her brothers and did so well academically that when her education was completed she was offered a teaching job for the primary grades, which she accepted.  Although she was quite a serious teacher and did a good job, her life felt empty and she yearned for something more. 
       Lavinia had a younger sister Minnie, who was also a miniature, in fact, a bit smaller. Minnie was very shy, and Lavinia, who was more worldly, sought throughout her life to protect Minnie from the outside world. 
       When a film-flam man, claiming to be a distant cousin, appeared at her parents' home and offered Lavinia a job as an entertainer traveling through the South on his steamboat, she jumped at the chance to escape the farm. She soon discovered however she was little more than a freak in his traveling freak show, but she got to like the  other "oddities" in the cast and fought to maintain her dignity, despite her coarse boss and his ways. 
       From the "Giant Lady", a co-worker, she learned about P.T. Barnum, and how he treated his cast of performers with dignity, and she dreamed of someday working for him as a performing singer. The Civil War soon put an end to her steamboat job and she returned to her parent's farm for two years.  She yearned to be out in the world again and secretly wrote a letter to Barnum with her press clippings and photos enclosed. 
       Her appeal worked and she was summoned to New York where Barnum introduced her to the world as Miss Lavinia Warren, dropping her unfortunate last name of Bump.  Barnum made her a nationwide sensation, and she reveled in her newly found fame and fortune.  She was introduced to Charles Stratton, Barnum's other world famous miniature, whose stage name was Tom Thumb.  He became infatuated with Lavinia. 
        Showman Barnum suggested that she should think about marrying Charles, but Lavinia, who wasn't in love with him and was very independent, wasn't at all interested.  Barnum used pressure on Lavinia, and she eventually relented, keeping her lack of love a secret from Charles.  Their wedding was a huge social event and despite Lavinia's initial objections, Minnie was her bridesmaid.  Lavinia, knowing Minnie's shyness, had kept Minnie a secret from Barnum. Barnum, of course, soon had Minnie join his troupe, touring with Tom Thumb and Lavinia.  
        Lavinia always feared pregnancy because she had been born a normal sized baby and knew a pregnancy with a normal size fetus would cause her death. As a result she and Charles lived a sexless marriage.  This fact however did not deter Barnum, who advertised that Lavinia had given birth and then secretly got orphaned newborns to act as their baby in the show.  Minnie who was was part of  the act was motherly, and always fell in love with these "stand in" babies and was  then always heartbroken when they were replaced.
         Minnie was soon married to a small, but not miniature, man.  She had always sought motherhood and happily, soon became pregnant, much to Lavinia's horror. As Lavinia knew, the fetus was of normal size, but Minnie refused to have it aborted. As a result, both Minnie and the infant died in childbirth, which filled Lavinia with guilt because she blamed herself and Barnum for taking Minnie out of her parent's home and into the spotlights.  
         Wealth made Lavinia's life much easier, but still, her diminutive size created  everyday problems, like having to take a small pair of steps with her so she could get up on chairs and beds.  She struggled with the height and bulkiness of doorknobs which proved to be difficult objects for her tiny hands. Imagine their extreme frustration and terror as she and Charles found themselves trapped in a sixth floor bedroom in a burning hotel. 
         Of course fame is fleeting and life changed for Lavinia and Charles after their top billing declined.  They made adjustments as hard times came into their lives.  Charles declined after the fire, and died shortly thereafter, but Lavinia lived on to remarry another miniature and toured until her death in 1919. 
         It's hard to imagine what life must have been like for someone 32 inches tall in a world made for those twice her height, the furniture, the buildings, the stares of everyone who saw her.  She successfully adjusted to her reality, and used it to her advantage.  Melanie Benjamin did an admirable job of writing this believable novel from Lavinia's low elevation point of view. 
You can view my paintings at