Broad Canyon Fire. Acrylic. 24″x48″


some sense of the perspective; near = fire/sunlit crazy smoke you are about to pass under, far is miles and miles of smoke heading to distant mountains.

Redo of the last post with an image 5x denser; the sun is now red and the vaseline view is clarified.

This is ten days of painting, but who’s counting…


Broad Canyon Fire. 24″x48″  Acrylic

This image is way off, yet it links to facebook with all the colors correct and it is correct in the blog upload library. All other versions I’ve brought into the library are similarly off when selected for display. For one, the sun should be glowing crimson; and everything else you can guess is way off from there. Second- blurry / vaseline smeared. Hardly worth putting it up.

Version 2

Bluebirding Storm on easel.

On a late afternoon bluebird house expedition (house is just left of center) this storm brewed up over the mountains and shot out a large arm reaching over the ranch to blot out the sun. Rain misted the air under the vast arm turning the sky beneath it a brilliant gold, while a premature twilight of the cloud’s shadow swept the landscape. The breeze fell away and the stillness was broken by the booming of thunder resonating from beyond the horizon.

It was a landscape that challenged me to paint the mood of it, and after spinning in pre-art miasma for a few weeks I finally toughened up and got to painting. The painting is in acrylic and 12″x48″, a new format for my work as my new camera has a panoramic feature. This brings a whole new challenge, as the light changes dramatically across the expanse.


Bluebirding Storm


Collage from circle die-cuts and scissors of bulls fighting in a corral; derived from a 1998 photo taken while on the Montana Angus Tour representing my father’s purebred outfit, Alpine Meadows Angus. The color transfer is a bit dull, and the focus soft- the weirding of digital images across platforms.

The sunroom is now cool enough during the day to allow painting to begin, so I thought I’d procrastinate on painting by finish out this collage. E was the engine behind getting this one started; she has wanted me to paint this image for years, as it has been up on my art’n wall forever. She suggested we collage it and pushed past my art-entropy malaise. We ducked out into the studio on weekends during the worst July heat, then brought it down to the basement to round out the Olympics. Collage is a great team art project where she sorts out all the color options then uses the die-cuts to amass shapes from the colors we select. We also tag-team on gluing; once I know where a piece will go, she paints the glue on the back of the piece and I lay it in. This keeps the meticulous pace moving at a rate that is actually bearable. Usually we work Non-Referentially, or what is commonly mislabeled as Abstraction. This image IS an Abstraction, where I drew out the image and laid in the shapes that referred to actual forms; a pair of bulls fighting I photographed 18 years ago. It is the first time we have gone Abstract with our collage efforts.

Obscure literary reference of title is of no consequence, of immediate consequence is global warming via human impact crushing the  ecsoystem at bottom of the post._DSC5557
Xander loves the ranch house because: KILLZ

The Feller in a springbox.

A few days before heading out to Montana I thought I had a new solution for shutting off the water at the springbox. Further boosting my idea was a realization that I could drop a ladder into the tube to access the pipe, rather than cutting myself off at the waist to dangle upside down underwater. This new method only requires one rubber boot to slowly fill with icy water. It also allows me to think right side up, and so realize that none of my bright ideas are going to work. A cork in the pipe would be a better solution. Now I have an idea of how to shut off the water, as well as snorkel an air line in for draining the system of water all the way to the house, but that will take a whole different collection of things that may/may not work.


The Feller’s water turnoff of a few years back failed, and the new solution is no-go. Dang.


The old Mustang Paddock gets cleared with a last full pickup load of junk to the dump.

Another day for the full respirator and watching mice race for cover. 50 years of junk being piled onto junk, with three summers of removing huge steel artifacts down to a final pickup load and raking, shoveling, sweeping. Next I move all the storage from the log ice-house up to here, so no more smacking my head on the low door!


The lawn was overrun with bindweed, so mowing was put on hold while weed spray took effect.

Dave came up with his weed spraying 4-wheeler all set to spray down the yard’s explosion of bindweed. The 4-wheeler had needed a jump-start, so it had to keep running; I thought about ducking back into the house for the respirator and gloves, but just jumped on and started spraying. That night I awoke in a fever-sweat feeling like I had food poisoning, but without the usual projectile problems. So, just straight poisoning then. Right. The yard. Stupid Feller.


The yard is ready to host a picnic.


Stanley helps E & I test out the Picnic zone, for a bigger fun picnic with relatives on Saturday. I’m guessing it is the first time the place has hosted a family party since the 1960’s.


I brainstorm a solution to seal off the basement from critters.


E helps with some cutting.


This panel sleeves in at the drop-angle of the door. Eventually.


Dense wire screening blocks scrabbling critters.


A few more times of closing myself in there and thinking like Xander before critter-proof.

Our bedroom window is at the L side of the frame, so we were front row seating when the Packrat tried to get in and failed. She returned later in the night and failed again. I checked the next morning and saw that she had built a little nest of willow leaves right up next to the blockade; inside on the top step I saw where her trapped kits had tried to chew their way out. A family tragedy? Be more like Xander, sissy.


Broad Valley fire greets us on our return to Utah.


The fire is miles long and will burn for weeks.


Stanley asks us if we realize we are driving into a fire?


Deja vu of the day we left town with Antelope Island on fire, as well as our fire day at the ranch.


Desertification and fires hot enough to sterilize the soil. Not like fires before the Sunbane.


Xander and Stanley team power-nap for a recovery-day.


Iris Bed. Step 1: scything. Step 2: pickaxe. Step 3: Pulling railroad ties from field-pile / fence repair. Three dawn-’til-coffee mornings of prep.

As the title suggests our Iris splitting project in SLC became a multi-state issue that required a massive addition of garden space in both locations. This slope below the corral drops straight into the creek at the footbridge we rebuilt in June. It is usually a wall of weeds and grasses and towering wild carrot.


Corral is heading into the yard / Iris bed.

From inside the collapsing corral, prior to scything out the morass of weeds on the other side. Taking out the weeds turned out to be quite a bit bigger of a deal than I had planned…


Truck pulls the fence back upright, and the framing hammer solves problems that are actual nails.


Strapped back to standing with reject steps from the rebuilt footbridge.


Pressure clamp makes everyone behave.


Evening cool down, time to set the railroad ties. Pointing to where the ties need to go is all it takes. 


Walt, this is your Brace & Bit setup: the drill I harangued you about.


Shoulder pressure makes the Brace & Bit dive through the railroad tie.


To drive the rebar I had to fix the old sledge handle and wedge the head tight. I brought wedges from SLC to do just that. It all held together, as long as I didn’t miss and shatter the old handle.


I decide to expand the rr ties the next a.m.; some are rr ties, some are old cedar rail.


Putting in the first rows of Iris.


About 50 per row, so far. The hillside is made of dust this time of year.


We returned from cycling the tandem up the canyon as a smoke-storm rolled in.

We took the tandem up the canyon of the Little Belt River to the remote mining/ski town of Neihart. Earlier in the week the sun and wind had turned us around 1.5 steep miles short of Neihart, but we caught a nice cloudburst on the way down going fast enough that our backs didn’t get wet. This time we had a boosting tail-wind and made Neihart, the day had been hazy with smoke from Washington, and as we made it back to the ranch a closer fire somewhere near Missoula sent a harbinger of things to come.


The fire is about 300 miles to the west. The sun was a dull red orb.

Our forests have dried out with only skeletal remains on many southern facing slopes. Pine beetles have devastated many areas in the Little Belt range, and are beginning to eke their way into our forests.


Around 300 Iris in this plot, and we planted 120 in the yard as a high border to the creek under the willows.


7 varieties of Iris, originating from Wright Road, Ohio to Boulder, CO, to Overland Park, KS, to SLC,UT.

If the biggest and toughest dragon-toes of Iris can dig in, we may have a few blooms even next year; most likely it will be a year of recovery before blooming. Iris like well drained soil in full sun, but this spot is pretty tough.