Archive for interesting characters

And Now ~ For Something Completely Different…

Posted in flora and fauna, Local Roaming, wild creatures with tags , , , on July 23, 2016 by WanderArtist

we were visited this morning by a very unusual guest ~ we found this huge fly buzzing around our front yard and hanging out on the side of our RV. neither of us had ever seen a fly this large! despite it’s size something told me not to be frightened of it so we included my hand in the second photo for a sense of scale – when it flew away however, it sounded like a small Harley and i was duly startled!

my dad thought it might be a horse fly, and, upon further research we think he might be right… glad it didn’t bite us!

Beautiful Bighorn Canyon NRA

Posted in Art, Artist Residency, Drawing, flora and fauna, historic sites, Inspiring People, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, National Parks, Personal History, Soul Food, Wanderings, wild creatures, Woodblock Printing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2016 by WanderArtist

One awesome benefit of being awarded artist residencies in national parks is discovering and falling in love with new places! This recently happened to us at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Montana/Wyoming. We stayed at historic Ewing-Snell Ranch about twenty miles north of the Park Visitor Center in Lovell, WY. There are numerous visually and historically interesting structures at Bighorn, with Ewing-Snell being the one continually inhabited until most recently. Many of the ranch buildings have been lovingly restored over the last 30 years. Until this past autumn Ewing-Snell was the only one still used as a residence by the park service and it was provided to us as part of the artist residency. Sadly, the ranch burned to the ground on December 9, 2015. We feel very fortunate to have stayed at this wonderfully restored historic building, and we are extremely sad that it is gone.

With my parents, who were visiting from Lincoln, Nebraska, we had the amazing experience of watching the supermoon eclipse from the porch of Ewing-Snell Ranch. Since no street lights were visible in any direction we enjoyed a clear and open view of the moon as it put on an amazing show, rising heavenward over the vast expanse of park land. It is truly a memory we will cherish for the rest of our lives. In light of the burning to the ground of the ranch merely weeks later, we had only an inkling of how truly lucky we were to be there at that moment in time.

Ewing-Snell porch

Ewing-Snell porch

Over the course of our two week stay at Bighorn I worked on a woodblock print representing one perspective of the park. It was not an easy place to narrow down to merely one image simple enough for a woodblock print… So many interesting cabins, canyons, horses, bighorn sheep, mountains and vast panoramic vistas! We visited all of the historic ranches, and saw many of the wild horses that live in the canyon and the Pryor Mountains that flank the western edge of the park… we wandered up into the Bighorn Mountains on the eastern edge of the park where we witnessed the ranchers herding their livestock down the mountain from summer grazing on Forest Service lands. We also had the humbling experience of spending several hours transfixed by the amazingly tangible energy at an ancient power spot called Medicine Wheel. Bighorn Canyon and its surrounding area is a very magical and humbling place. Stay tuned for a future posting about this amazing place.

Lockhart Ranch and its owner, Caroline Lockhart, held my attention early in our visit. Lockhart was probably the talk of the town (small as it was) when she bought land and began ranching in the Dryhead region (now part of Bighorn Canyon NRA). One of the quotes from this city slicker and author/newspaper owner about living there was “My job is writing books and the last thing I had in mind when I came to the Dryhead was filing on land or engaging in the cattle business, and certainly not locating in a country where a fresh track in the main-travelled road is an event.” Though likely scandalous to some she never married, and she surely enjoyed being the person in charge – of her ranch and of her own destiny.

Lockhart apparently never planned to own a ranch but bought L/♥ (her brand) in 1926 when the owner defaulted on a loan she had made to him. The ranch was then just 160 acres but she expanded it to over 6,000 by 1952 when she finally decided to make Cody, Wyoming her permanent home. She raised cattle, kept a lover at times, wrote books and made an excellent living on the ranch. Truly an inspiration for the liberated woman!

As part of my Find Your Park Through Art weekend at Bighorn Canyon a handful of artists joined together to offer workshops and to hike, paint, photograph and draw together in some of the interesting sites in the park. I met some lifelong friends while working together to create a fun and informative weekend for participants. Painter Stephanie Rose led a workshop at Ewing-Snell on plein air painting, and Photographer Marilyn Feather led a sunrise trip to photograph the canyon with other participants. Both were full of energy, freely dispensing tips and sharing knowledge of their subjects, and were truly a pleasure to work with. Marilyn even shared Ewing-Snell with us for about four nights, dodging the local black bear and enjoying the comforts of a wonderfully remote home base.

I led a group into Hillsboro Ranch to draw, photograph and paint on the final morning of the Find Your Park Through Art weekend. Although my Bighorn woodblock print depicts a building at Lockhart Ranch, Hillsboro wound up being a favorite place, mainly for the variety of interesting structures, but also because of the stories of mountain lions seen in the canyon. When our group arrived at the ranch we soon discovered a domestic cat that had somehow made its way to this remote spot and was very happy for our attention. When we left Hillsboro that day one of the group members, realizing that the kitty could easily end up as a cougar snack, decided to adopt her and a few of us happily took turns carrying her out to the trailhead. We were all relieved to get her away from the wild creatures! Blackpaw now leads a happy life with as much food and love as any cat could hope for!

After our day at Hillsboro we returned to Ewing-Snell where I did a demonstration of woodblock printing for an inquisitive group. As I said, we fell in love with Bighorn Canyon and the surrounding mountains, and we hope to return and explore for a longer time in the future. I only regret that we will not be able to stay at Ewing-Snell Ranch again. This blog post is dedicated to the park staff who spent many hours lovingly restoring all of the buildings at Bighorn. We all appreciate your efforts and expertise, and we too were very sad to learn of the demise of this special historic gem.

JH Guthrie and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Posted in Family, Ideas, Inspiring People, Personal History with tags , , , , , , on August 30, 2014 by WanderArtist

We all feel we have interesting characters in our family trees. One friend of mine has a quote on a pillow on their living room couch that states proudly, “My family tree is full of nuts!”. Recently I have been delving into photographs of some of my ancestors sent me by my father. I know very little about most of these characters aside from names, relationships and sometimes pertinent dates. One of the men I would like to know more about is JH Guthrie. Dad sent a few photos and a brief article about Guthrie.


The undeniably distinctive mustache and spectacles made me curious. I am guessing he is my great great grandfather, father to Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer. This will take further research, but in the meantime, I will introduce you briefly to the relative I have become so curious about.

J.H.Guthrie Business Card

JH Guthrie’s calling card from his carpentry business based out of Raymond, Nebraska. This card screams confidence… He knows how to make anything, or just draw up the plans for you. And JH knew that putting his name diagonally across the card would be eye-catching. And what is his first name? Is he John Henry, James Howard? No, call him JH, everyone does.

J.H.Guthrie_OffFellow Article

Ah, we learn a little more about JH… he was an Odd Fellow… and clearly a skilled one at that!

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is now a worldwide altruistic and benevolent organization. It started in the mid-18th century, in England, and came to the US around 1820. In 1851, the Odd Fellows began accepting women as members, being the first fraternal organization to do so, by forming the Daughters of Rebekah. Brother Schuyler Colfax, (Vice President of the US from 1869-1873), was the force behind the movement to bring women into the organization as full members. According to the IOOF website “The Odd Fellows, also known as The Three Link Fraternity, is one of the oldest and largest non-political and non-sectarian fraternal and service-oriented organizations in the world.”


This photograph intrigues me… did JH Guthrie make the musical instrument he holds so proudly? Was he also a musician? The apron certainly implies that he just walked outside of his workshop to get this new instrument photographed… the shadow, the admiring look down… captures a moment in time so clearly, and generates so many questions.

Along with my (possibly) great great grandfather – Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin D. Roosevelt and even Jesse James are said to have been Odd Fellows. JH Guthrie was an interesting character, no doubt!


I will add in an interesting document, dated November 1910, I found on the web related to Stonington IOOF and JH Guthrie, it must be the same man…


John’s Fords & Other Toys

Posted in Design, Inspiring People, Local Roaming, Wanderings with tags , , , , , , on May 3, 2014 by WanderArtist

I love cars. Old cars to be more exact… So when I found out that a new friend had a collection of old cars I did all I could to be allowed to come visit and get a look at the goods. John has over thirty in his collection, mostly Fords. If there is one truth I have learned about people who collect old things, it’s this: they never collect only one kind of object – not just cars… you can see that phenomena in this photo series… there are signs, many signs and even more license plates. What I wasn’t able to photograph were the toy cars in the corner of the garage, maybe a later visit. Here is a peek at the things that struck my fancy. There will be later installments and more visits I hope!



Walk the Line

Posted in Family, Inspiring People, Personal History, Wanderings with tags , , , , , on March 27, 2014 by WanderArtist

Thoughts of travel back to the land of my birth (Nebraska) have spurred me once again to study old family photos and written histories. As anyone who studies their genealogy will say… There were some interesting characters in my family line! Relatives have traced my father’s family as far back as the 18th century and the first Palmer to step on American soil. There are as many interesting stories in my mother’s family – including the possibility of Algonquin lineage, and a family connection to the Charles Tufts family who donated the land for Tufts University. Here I will illuminate some of the Palmer line – mainly because I have better written information and many more photographs going back to my great-great-great Grandparents, William Henry Palmer & Permelia Higgs Palmer.

The first Palmer of my family to arrive in the New World was John Palmer, who sailed from England to Virginia in 1764. His son – also John – moved from Virginia to Kentucky. Very little is known about either of them… who they married, what work they did, even their birth and death information is not known to us. John Jr. was father to my great-great-great Grandfather, William Henry. William married Permelia Higgs, whose father came from Scotland, and they moved from Kentucky to Indiana. According to a relative who wrote the genealogy to which I refer, “Having lived in Kentucky before moving to Indiana, the Palmer family was very strongly pro-Southern in their views and opinions. Permelia was once mobbed in Thorntown by an angry crowd who objected to her violent denunciation of Lincoln… Jumping into her buggy… and wielding a big whip, she managed to escape.”

William Henry Palmer & Permelia Higgs Palmer

William Henry Palmer & Permelia Higgs Palmer

My great-great-great Grandparents William and Permelia had nine children, their son Joseph Thomas Palmer (1832-1912) was the first to move to Nebraska – in 1856. Joseph taught school when he first arrived in Nebraska but freighted provisions to miners in Denver in a covered wagon after his marriage – before eventually settling down to farming. Joseph met and married Lydia Ann Brinson from Nebraska City in 1861. They also had a large family of eight children and my great Grandfather Arthur Franklin Palmer, Sr. (1876-1951) was born on a farm west of Raymond, NE.

Joseph Thomas Palmer & Lydia Ann Brinson Palmer 1901

Joseph Thomas Palmer & Lydia Ann Brinson Palmer 1901

Joseph Thomas Palmer & Lydia Ann Brinson Palmer

Joseph Thomas Palmer & Lydia Ann Brinson Palmer

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Sr. married Georgia Alma Guthrie in October, 1901, they had three children. Georgia (1879-1977) is my favorite relative in photographs, for reasons I hope you will see. I remember her as a small but very strong, white-haired old woman at Grandpa’s house when I was a little girl. She was frightening to me because she would sometimes grab us (maybe she did this only once and it has grown in my memory!) hold us tight, and ask “Whose little girl are you?” in an angry voice. It is difficult to reconcile the old woman I remember with the young beautiful and intense woman in the photographs.

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer & Arthur Franklin Palmer, Sr.

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer & Arthur Franklin Palmer, Sr.

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer - fully loaded

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer – fully loaded

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer

Here I will diverge briefly from the Palmer family to show a few photographs and a business card of J.H. Guthrie, who I think was Georgia’s father.

J.H. Guthrie business card

J.H. Guthrie business card

J.H. Guthrie

J.H. Guthrie

J.H. Guthrie

J.H. Guthrie

My Grandfather, Arthur Franklin ‘Frank’ Palmer, Jr. was the oldest child, born in 1907. Grandpa married Abbie Housel and they had eight children. My father, James Lelon Palmer is the second youngest.

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Jr. 1926

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Jr. 1926

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Jr. & Abbie Housel Palmer

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Jr. & Abbie Housel Palmer

Abbie Housel Palmer

Abbie Housel Palmer

James Leland Palmer at work as a Photojournalist for Associated Press, ca. 1989

James Lelon Palmer at work as a Photojournalist & Editor for Associated Press, ca. 1989

I will end with thanks to my relative Bertha Hornung who, in 1954, compiled what was then known of our family history… And my father deserves the biggest ‘thank you’ for taking Bertha’s “Briefly Biographical” and typing it (along with a concise family tree) and sending the document to my siblings and me back in 1989. It is from my father’s collection of family photos I have culled these gems. There are many more fun photographs which may prompt later installments – and make me further ‘Walk the Line’!


Posted in Ideas, Inspiring People, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Soul Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2014 by WanderArtist

Amelia Earhart, 1936

I had heroes as a child… they changed often and had more to do with my interests at the moment than any lifetime guidance. For example, during the few years I played soccer in middle school I really looked up to Brazilian football player Pelé. But, it was in my twenties when I truly discovered Amelia Earhart, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Abbey, Frida Kahlo… people whose lives I could really sink my teeth into! And from whom I could glean some strength, guidance, inspiration.

Frida Kahlo, 1931

Frida Kahlo, 1931

Many of my heroes have been women who were pioneers and leaders during times when they were encouraged by society to sink into the background, discouraged from following their dreams. I have never really sat down to create a list of those who motivate, guide, strengthen me – until now. However, this is an incomplete list of some highlights in my walk of fame! I could go on in many more blog posts about so many others. The abiding truths to me are – do they inspire me? Do their actions and words stretch my thinking, fill my heart, awaken gratitude, creativity, or even conscience? Fame is not a requirement, I find daily inspiration from my friends and family, from unknown and unnamed humans striving to live a meaningful life.

Louisa May Alcott, 1858

Louisa May Alcott, 1858

Louisa May Alcott was a writer and single woman her entire life. She shrugged off the expectations of society and made a living for herself and her family at a time when women were not even allowed to vote. Alcott wrote Little Women to help support her family, and, upon hearing of the death of her brother-in-law, immediately sat down to begin writing Little Men. She knew her sister and family would require extra support, and Alcott turned to the best way she knew to provide such succor. Another aspect of her character that I find especially intriguing and motivating is that she was a runner… yes, in those voluminous 1860s skirts!

Julia Morgan, 1896

Julia Morgan, 1896

A visit to Hearst Castle in California netted me a new hero in Architect Julia Morgan. Julia Morgan was an extraordinary person – one of the first women to graduate from UC Berkeley, and the first to be admitted and earn a degree from the Ecole Nationale et Speciale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. She opened her architecture firm in 1904 in San Francisco. Hearst hired Morgan to begin work on his estate in San Simeon in 1919. Morgan was the right person for the job. To me, the detail of workmanship, the sturdy quality of the structures (built on the earthquake prone hills of the California coast), and the aesthetic layout speak for themselves. Hearst Castle is extreme in it’s opulence, but is still very pleasing to the eye, incorporates lovely natural beauty, and an ergonomic design – before the word was even invented.

Vinnie Ream, Sculptress

Lavinia Ellen Ream Hoxie (1847-1914) was born in Wisconsin and moved with her family to Washington, DC in 1861. There she eventually worked as a clerk in the dead letter office – one of the first women to work for the federal government. By her late teens she had created numerous portrait sculptures and even had President Lincoln model for her by the time she was seventeen. In an 1866 vote in Congress she was commissioned to create a full sized marble sculpture of Lincoln, now in the US Capitol rotunda. She also designed the first free-standing sculpture of a Native American. The likeness of Sequoyah is in the Statuary Hall at the Capitol.

Edward Abbey

Edward Abbey

And now I come to Edward Abbey. As soon as I read Desert Solitaire I was hooked on his wonderful love of the west and of wilderness. His poetry of place moves me still and I am continually heartened by his embrace of wilderness and of our wild nature. I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes from Abbey,

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast… a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

Sailing Hard Waters

Posted in Local Roaming, Wanderings with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2014 by WanderArtist

I moved to the North Country about 20 years ago and rediscovered true winter weather. Over the years I have figured out how you dress when it’s 10 degrees out, and what else to put on when it is 20 below zero and windy. I’ve found that keeping active and hiking, running, cross country skiing, or simply walking throughout the winter really helps to stave off cabin fever.

About eleven years ago I saw something out on Lake Champlain that I had never seen before. A new way some people deal with, even embrace harsh winters. There was a DN class ice yacht race held here and, bundled and ready, we walked far out on the frozen lake and watched them fly over the ice around us! DN ice boats are small, single-person vessels with a 12 foot platform on three large runners supporting a sail measuring 60 square feet (about 16 feet long) that can achieve speeds from 40 up to maybe 60 miles an hour if the wind is right! The whole boat weighs only 100-150 pounds (without the human on board). This smaller class of ice boat is the most popular class in both Europe and North America for obvious reasons… They are relatively simple to build, and easy for one person to handle, transport, rig and race!

After that winter a few friends of ours even decided to build their own ice yachts. Although I thought it looked like a fun sport it held little allure for me. I have never learned to sail and have other interests to keep me busy. Once those racers all left, I did not see ice boats on the lake again until just a few days ago. With the bitter cold temperatures we’ve had this winter it is no surprise that the North American Championship Regatta is back in our neighborhood this year. After scouting North America for the best “plate” they get the word out through various networks and sailers converge on the chosen “hard water” for a few days of racing. Apparently the weather has not cooperated this year and the site has been moved a number of times due to changing ice conditions and drifting snow. Happily for us, the racers wound up here on Lake Champlain!

So, we again bundled up (6 degrees with a strong wind all day) and headed out on the frozen lake to watch them run races throughout the day. We met a few other brave souls who ventured out to experience the world of ice boat racing – many of them on ice skates. It was fun to watch, and very cool to be out in the middle of Lake Champlain in winter… Very cool.

To see more of our ice boat photos and buy prints, check out

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