Tuesday, 11 April 2017


Growing old, aging, it happens to all of us if you should live long enough. Some, a lucky minority, it would seem actually get to enjoy the so called "Golden Years". Instead, most of us will experience something less than enjoyable, and will sit in long lines waiting to be pricked, prodded, or scanned being examined for existing disease, and failing body parts.

Musical Chairs

Surrounded by silence,
I remember.
The memory,
it just popped into my head,
completely out of the blue. 
no doubt,
by the cloying cooking smells
clinging to the clothing of my companions
on our weekly quest. 
The odour reminds me of my grandmother’s boiled chicken, 
with dumplings. A whole chicken cut into pieces boiled in a large pot, 
and flavoured with salt and pepper.
When it was cooked she’d drop rolled out pieces of pastry dough
into the bubbling,
chicken fat gravy.

Now, fifty years later, things have changed,
and you daren’t do that, as salt is not good for you,
nor is chicken fat, 
and the lard used in the pastry will simply kill you, 
or that’s what we’re told.
One day it’s good for you,
the next day it’s not.
Do as “They” say and you will live forever. 
But, who wants to live forever?

Seated on a hard plastic chair at the clinic,
waiting for your name to be called,
is quite cerebral. I let my mind wander.
The rows of people sitting on plastic chairs reminds me of when I was young,
and we would play "musical chairs”. 
The difference now is that instead of music,
and giggling children,
I’m surrounded by old folk,
like me,
with pain etched faces,
staring blankly at nothing,
minds addled by drugs,
waiting for their weekly doctor’s assessment.

Sitting there thinking one can’t help but wonder
whether given the choice,
living longer, or living better,
what would they choose?
Death is so final, 
so frightening it seems,
that most of us choose longer
than better.
What’s that I hear? My name’s being called.
I give up my chair.


Unhappy thoughts. Most in the Western World live in denial about aging and death, despite the fact that it's unavoidable. We'll all die, it's a fact. It's the "how" that scares the hell out of us, and forces us into denial. We avoid older persons like a plague thinking of old age as a communicable disease.

I’m Feeling Old

I walk down the street,
I’m feeling

I'm invisible you see,
I’m seventy-five years old,
and told,
that I have little to offer.

Society has seen fit to stifle my being,
for being

I’m seventy-five years old, 
I’m part of the past.
I’ve seen miracles happen,
that have lengthen my stay,
but shortened your future
in so many ways.

I’m sevety-five years old,
I have no future,
or so I am told, 
only the past.

Tread softly young persons,
though the future seems bright,
the past catches up
in the dawn’s early light.

So, there it is. I'm a bit old, tired, and achy. I've shared a lot with the readers of this blog over the past couple of years. I've encouraged, instructed, and put my feelings out there hoping that they might be helpful. But, as the saying goes, "all good things must come to an end". I'll continue to sketch and write, but mostly to amuse myself. Time to call a halt to this blog. I do hope that my efforts may have been helpful to some of you readers. Best wishes, and goodbye!

What would have happened
If I had turned left, instead of right, 
If I had run, instead of walked, 
If I had said no, instead of yes,
If I had never been born,
Would the world exist?


Thursday, 16 March 2017


I'm what you'd say, mildly interested, in this space exploration thing, but not from the standpoint of mankind actually undertaking such a leap. Frankly, I don't think that it's necessary to send people to the moon, or to Mars, nor does it make any sense to establish actually colonies. As far as terraforming Mars, or altering, or enhancing, its magnetic shield to make it more habitable, I believe that this is totally insane. Why? What do we hope to prove?

There are some that believe that by establishing a permanent colony on Mars we can preserve humanity's memory in the event that we are successful in wiping our existence off the face of the Earth by some means, or another, or in the event that the Earth might be struck by a meteor of a size that would cause a mass extinction event. No one seems to realize, however, that the moon and Mars could easily suffer similar fates. In fact the fate of a Mars colony is questionable at best. Without an enhanced magnetic shield Mars will continue to lose what oxygen it has trapped, and will be as vulnerable as Earth to being struck by a meteor of extinction size. Also, what happens if terraforming fails, and Mars is dependent upon being resupplied from Earth, and Earth's inhabitants are wiped out. Obviously it's goodbye any evidence that humans existed.

This idea that by establishing a permanent colony on Mars is a means of saving humanity in the event that Earth is rendered uninhabitable is in itself wishful thinking, as it has come to light that in order to survive on Mars, or in space, longterm, it will necessitate in physical, and chemical alterations to our species. Whereas, apparently, it has taken a million years for humanity to take the shape and form present today, on Mars humanity would undergo a transformation into another species within 6,000 years. So much for saving humanity.

There's another thing to consider should humans discover life be it a virus, or bacteria, on Mars, can we let Mars explorers return to Earth? The risk that they would be contaminated, in my opinion, would be too great. I know, it's all science fiction, but then a little over a hundred years ago atomic power, and space travel, was just science fiction.

We're on the cusp of developing artificial intelligence to a level far superior to a humans ability. Employing A.I. to carry out the exploration of Mars, and beyond, and to complete tasks deemed essential to the success of our survival will be far less expensive than fullfiling the childhood dreams of a few billionaires, and the brilliant minds of a younger generation that has been taken in with the thought that they are part of something immensely important to humanity.

I'm a bit of a naturalist. I'm fascinated by nature, and its many amazing creatures. Some of you may be very religious and believe that when you die you go to a better place, a place some call heaven. I have a difficult time grasping this concept believing that we've already found paradise. Paradise is here, it's all around us. Stop for a moment, and look around. Why are we in such a rush to leave this paradise for something harsh, and unrealistic? It really doesn't make sense, and I believe that if those in a rush to leave could take a moment away from their competitive nature, and think of their children, and future generations, they too might come to understand that saving this paradise is far more important than the realization of a child's fantasy.

I'm finding these days that I do more writing than sketching and painting. My sketching and painting of late has been done to help with the completion of a book project. As I grow older I find that everything seems to take longer to complete. Still I'm carrying on, part of my parent's decision, and the chance of my being, and becoming a part of the Human Race:-

Many years ago I joined the human race,
a race to where,
no one knows.

regardless of race, 
physical ability, 
or religious beliefs,
everyone must join the race.

At the start confusion reigns.
The race,
already underway,
is filled with competitors
as far as the eye can see.

At first I raced with children,
their parents cheered them on.
But, as the race continued, 
and the participants 
grew older, 
the cheering crowd 
grew thinner.
Family members mostly,
as far as I could see.

The years,
they passed so quickly.
The race continued on.
The finish line, 
no where in sight.

And as I ran I noticed
the cheering crowd 
grow thinner.

And then, 
one day,
the finish line came into sight.

I looked about,
and was shocked to see
that there were few onlookers,
no cheers,
just silence,
and just me.

Vision blurring, 
I continue racing, 
to where ..... 

I do not know.


For those of you interested in sketches and paintings, instead of my ramblings, here are a few sketches and paintings recently completed and being considered for a new book:-

Pattersons Bay Island                  Pen & Ink Study

Oxtongue Lake       Watercolour painting   2017

Pattersons Bay Island   Oxtongue Lake          Watercolour Painting 2017

Monday, 13 March 2017

EXPLORING THE WEST 1999 (Part Three)

It was a long drive, a total of 3,100 km, to get to Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, but it was well worth the effort. The park is quite unique, lots of wildlife and incredible scenery. We had many sightings of bears, fortunately Black bears as opposed to Grizzlies. I say fortunate as, by the time that we arrived we had become a bit paranoid about Grizzlies, having read that a couple of weeks before our arrival a poor chap living in Pincher Creek had the misfortune of having an encounter with a female grizzly, with cubs. He survived, but had suffered severe life threatening, disfiguring, injuries.

Actually, we weren't the only ones a bit paranoid. While there we went on a loosely organized hike up into the mountains to an alpine lake. I say loosely, as it involved our taking a boat ride to the trailhead on the opposite side of the lake, then together with seventeen other hikers, we were pointed to the trail and warned to be back for the return trip at 5:30 pm, and left to fend for ourselves. Many wore bells, and had whistles, to warn bears on the trail ahead of our coming. Unfortunately, bells and whistles don't really work to alert bears. Both bells and whistles could have the opposite effect. The bears prey on marmots that whistle warnings, and bells are simply a noise that should be investigated. The best way to warn bears of your presence, so that they're not surprised and can get off the trail before you arrive, is to simply talk, or sing. For the first few miles of the hike Sandy and I talked and sang songs (badly), then like many married couples who have been married for 30 years, we ran out of things to talk about, and simply walked in silence with the odd call to possibly alert a bear of our presence. Happily, it seems to have worked as we survived the hike, and arrived back at the trailhead before 5:30 pm for the return boat ride.

I can't help but stress the importance of sketching, and making notes. Looking at my sketches, and reading my notes made 18 years ago, memories, wonderful memories, come flooding back. I remember the strong, almost gale force, winds sweeping down the lake,  an encounter with a coyote while hiking a trail that led across a mountain meadow, but most of all the quiet and solitude enjoyed while hiking in the mountains.

By the time we arrived in Waterton Lakes I was getting over the fear of sketching landscape in the presence of others. It's a real problem for beginners, the idea that someone might come along and look over your shoulder, and make a disparaging remark. Once you get used to the idea that a sketch is simply a sketch, important yes, but not really an exhibition piece of art, you become comfortable sketching just about anywhere.

As my notes mention, after leaving Waterton Lakes National Park we travelled to Grasslands, then a Provincial Park, now a National Park. Grasslands proved to be a most wonderful experience. Sandy and I are ardent bird watchers and Grasslands and its surrounding area is a birder's paradise. We observed an incredible number of species including Prairie Falcon and Burrowing Owls. We stayed at The Convent, a marvellous property run by incredible hosts, once a Convent and Catholic school it was saved days before it was to be torn down, and turned into a Bed & Breakfast. From there we travelled home stopping briefly at Lake Superior Provincial Park to make a few sketches.
 A marvellous trip, and a wonderful experience.

Grasslands National Park          Watercolour Field Sketch

An amusing incident while doing these sketches of Grasslands. We were driving a Dodge van at the time. It was scorching hot, and to get out of the strong sunlight I sought shelter in the open side door of the van. I'm short sighted so I wear glasses while sketching. While sketching I found that I was experiencing some difficulty focus with my right eye. Thinking I was going blind, but wanting to complete my sketches I continued painting. It was only after finishing and packing up that I discovered that one of the lens in my glasses had fallen out. It's perhaps needless to say that I was much relieved to learn that there was nothing wrong with my eyesight.

Grasslands National Park    Watercolour Field Sketch

Sunday, 12 March 2017


In Part One we travelled to Cypress Hills Provincial Park in Alberta, and were about to head off to Waterton Lakes National Park. Before doing so I thought to reveal how a simple very quick sketch, such as that done above while standing on the hydro dam at the Montreal River, can lead to something a bit more involved:-

Graphite Study #1 

Graphite Study #2

Graphite Study #3

Watercolour Study- Montreal River

Montreal River    Watercolour Painting I

Montreal River    Watercolour Painting II

We've been back that way several time since making my original sketch, and the subsequent studies and paintings depicted. It's interesting to note that back when the Group of Seven painted in this area there were no hydro dams on the Montreal River. As for this location, since the 911 terrorist attack in New York city security measures have been put in place at hydro facilities such as this. A fence ringed with barbed wire, and security cameras now prevents visitors from gaining access to the dam, and this very scenic view.

Friday, 10 March 2017


I'm continually encouraging young persons to keep diaries, and make sketches to preserve memories. Photographs won't do, as without reference, place and time taken tend to blur. Take the time to write a few words, or make a sketch, and years later they'll talk to you reminding you of not only place and time, but of sounds and smells.

This past while I've been looking through some of my sketchbooks hoping to find inspiration, and I came across an early sketchbook with a few sketches, and a bit of a diary relating to a trip west that we took back in 1999. As we left our home in Ontario it began to rain, and it continued to rain for five days, not stopping until we we're well into Manitoba. Not an encouraging sign for the long trip out to Alberta. None the less the trip proved to be well worth the long drive, and I thought that perhaps I should share this little adventure to emphasize the value of making a sketchbook.

Back in 1999 I was moving away from exhibiting away from my studio, and exploring making digital books. Up to that time I had exhibited regularly at various festivals, exhibiting wildlife paintings and prints. Having discovered Algonquin Provincial Park, and the Group of Seven I was making a move away from wildlife painting and printmaking and attempting to learn how to sketch and paint landscape. It was an interesting time in my career as an artist. There was so much to learn. The trip west was a learning experience in many ways.

I won't include descriptions of the various pages from my sketchbook, as most of the entries have their own descriptions.

We spent a couple of days at Cypress Hills exploring the area. We saw our first Pink-sided Juncos.  I attempted a few watercolour field sketches from the lookout at Cypress Hills Provincial Park. I was amazed at the rugged landscape. Most of us from the east believe that the Prairie Provinces are quite flat. We discovered that this is a bit of a myth, and that some areas remind one of the Badlands that you can experience south of the border in the USA. From the lookout you could see for miles, and miles. One day while sketching, off in the distance, I could see a speck of a yellow, a school bus travelling on the prairie delivering its passengers to a homestead hidden by a cluster of trees, the only trees visible for miles around.

Keep in mind while reading my scribbled entries, that sketchbooks are not all about making art. The purpose of sketchbooks is to preserve memories and possibilities for future art, and to remind us of our time spent.

From Cypress Hills we travelled on to Waterton National Park in Alberta, but that's another story, something that we'll save for a future posting.

Monday, 20 February 2017


Park Lake - Algonquin Park   Watercolour Painting  2001

What about Newton’s Third Law?

It’s been awhile since I blogged, ranted some would say, and ask why today?

Well, my wife, thinking to get me all worked up, pointed out an article on the Weather Channel about a professor at Arizona State University Department of Physics suggesting that millions of wind pumps pumping water onto the arctic tundra in winter would create a layer of ice that would either prevent, or stall, global warming. It’s really not feasible of course as the cost, in the trillions, makes such a project unaffordable. Also, in my opinion, and what do I know, it would seem to be scary science. There’s a basic law in physics discovered, we’re told, by Sir Isaac Newton. It’s called Newton’s Third Law that states, “for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction”. With this in mind one has to wonder what would happen if you were to artificially cover a large slice of the tundra with a foot, or so, of ice? Would it actually work and slow global warming, and if so what effect would it have on changes that are/have already taking/taken place? And, then another question arises, where do we get this amount of water, and what effect would it have on land already under stress. And then there’s the problem of convincing the indigenous peoples to embrace such action. Good luck, I say. Lot’s of questions, however, not to concern ourselves as wind pumps in the arctic will never happen.

Now, I should point out that I’m really not too concerned as I’m much too old (I think) to witness the doom and gloom forecasted for 50 - 60 years from now. Hell, my idea of the future at my age is tomorrow, and tomorrow. But, I am concerned for future generations as I do believe that too much effort is being wasted on solutions for the immediate future. Billions of dollars are being spent (wasted) on technology deemed to be new, and needed, before being properly tested. Long term solutions, and I mean really long term solutions not just a few decades, are not being considered.

Let’s face it, historically global warming is a natural occurrence. It’s going to happen, and the doom forecasted will be real, but probably not for centuries. True, there will be weather events that occur, which we will try to pin on our current use of fossil fuels, but in reality these events, or events of a similar nature are largely caused by nature itself, and humanity’s failure to work with nature. Massive urbanization, abuse of water sources, and poor agricultural practices, have wreaked more havoc than the burning of fossil fuels ever have.

What should we be doing to save humanity? Perhaps, we should think long term, and begin to correct past mistakes. It was stupid, and still is to develop along the coasts of oceans and inland seas realizing, as we should have known based upon science, that historically bodies of water rise and fall with time. Maybe we should make some effort to green the deserts of the world rather than spend the earth’s resources in attempting to colonize Mars. It’s such a stupid idea with no valid reason to do so. Perhaps, we should take a look at population controls of some sort. Actually, without incurring the wrath of the various religions of the world, we really should look at population controls. Talk about stupidity, since the development of agriculture we’ve been breeding like rats, totally out of control. Finally, perhaps we should really look at developing technology to live in a much warmer world. Mistake here, I said “we”. Sorry, it’s a little too late for me to be of much help. Should there be any young people reading this rant, it’s really up to you, keeping in mind Newton’s Third Law.

Now, as to why I’ve been a bit tardy in my blogging, I’m busy writing and illustrating a couple of books. I’m attempting to rewrite an older book about Algonquin Provincial Park. Since producing “Where Raven Plays - An Artsit’s Guide To Algonquin Provincial Park” way back in 2002 I’ve made many more drawings and paintings, so it seemed a worthwhile project, one that I thought would go quickly. Think again Ernest! Another project that I’m working on is a book of prose and poetry. Poetry, you say! Yes, it’s true, from time to time I try to write poetry:-


When I was young,
very young,
a mere boy,
I lived in the moment.
There was no yesterday,
nor tomorrow,
only the moment.

Everything was new,
an experience,
a fleeting memory
swept aside,
crowded out,
by something colourful,
that caught my eye.

As I grew older
the very things that caught my eye
began to linger,
worthy of additional thought,

was followed by tomorrow,
until tomorrows filled my mind,
but still left much

As I grow old,
I struggle to catch up
with past tomorrows,
fearful that
my tomorrows
will soon catch up
leaving no tomorrow.

So, there it is, I’m working away attempting to accomplish as much as is possible before I have to leave the problems of tomorrow to others.

Oxtongue Lake -Misty Morning - Romance Island   Graphite Drawing 2017

Misty Morning - Northern Lake    Watercolour Sketch

Oxtongue Lake - Misty Morning   Graphite Sketch  2017

Oxtongue Lake- Misty Morning    Graphite Drawing  2017