The text and paintings on The Trowbridge Chronicles are taken from the illustrated journal of Violet Trowbridge, a shrew that once lived in a village deep in the Olympic Rain Forest. Each new post will represent a portion of Mrs. Trowbridge’s journal.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


What better way to introduce Episode 100 of the Trowbridge Chronicles than to offer one of my favorite of Mrs. Trowbridge's holiday paintings. The Trowbridge shrews of long ago didn't celebrate Christmas as we do, but they celebrated an annual winter festival that was similar in many respects to our Christmas celebration. Mrs. T painted her neighbor's cottage (above) decorated for the festive occasion during a winter snow.

The early shrews picked a variety of berries during the summer, then stored them away in their food cellar for winter provisions. The red huckleberries and white snow berries were also used for holiday decorating, as you can see in Mrs. T's painting. They would then hang the berries on tiny twig trees planted in front of their cottages. They ignited alder twig torches fueled by fir pitch, and decorated wooden barrels filled with mountain heather and berries. Their decorations were much simpler than ours.

Mrs. Trowbridge would most certainly have come undone if she could see the way we celebrate Christmas, with all the hustle-bustle and commercialism. I hope you are able to take time this season to remember the real reason for honor the Savior who came to us as a babe in a manger to bring Light into a dark world. Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Our little shrew is undoubtedly feeling like his life is a bit unbalanced at the moment, as he attempts to escape the little green flame thrower with legs who is pursuing him. How could friendship possibly emerge from such adverse circumstances? Maybe it can't, maybe it can. We shall see.

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Friday, October 16, 2009


Frozen with fear, our little shrew must decide what to do in order to escape the little dragon's flame-throwing mouth. Can friendship arise from the flames? We shall see.

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Monday, September 28, 2009


Our little shrew has just encountered a green baby dragon with a polka dot pattern, fresh out of the shell. At this point it doesn't look like much of a friendship could develop. If your whiskers were singed by a fire-breathing dragon, you too may have second thoughts about nurturing a friendship.

Friday, September 04, 2009


I decided to try something different from my traditional Trowbridge format. Sometimes more time passes between Trowbridge posts than I would like, so from time to time I thought I would post some images that I created myself. Some of you who are fans of Mrs. Trowbridge's stories and paintings may not know that I dabble in art a little myself. Mrs. Trowbridge will always be the star of the blog, but I might sprinkle in a few of my own images along the way. That should help me to post a little more frequently.

This first illustration is a professional project that I just completed, depicting a famous college team football player who can't wait to go out for pizza after the much so that he's hallucinating. If you're a footbal fan, you'll recognize the design and colors on his uniform.

The January 2010 date is drawing nearer, and two more signed up last week for my upcoming Painting in Paradise workshop in Rarotonga. Here's more info:

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Monday, August 24, 2009


Two tiny forest creatures gaze at each other with caution. Will they become fast friends? Stay tuned as more episodes unfold in the weeks ahead.

Check out the previous episodes of this story in the archive to the left.

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Monday, July 27, 2009


Mrs. Trowbridge spent much of her idle time crafting clever stories and limericks for her children and grandchildren. Little did she know that her stories would be read not just in the rain forest, but around the world. Click on "blog archive" on the left to see previous episodes.

This past weekend we returned to Huckleberry Hollow country once again. We stayed on the shores of Lake Quinault in the Quinault Rain Forest, near where Mrs. T once lived. One of my favorite places on the planet is the Lake Quinault Lodge on Lake Quinault. I spent part of my weekend writing and drawing in the lovely main room with it's big fireplace (see lodge web site). Before motels, there were lodges, and Lake Quinault Lodge is one of the grandest of them all.

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Friday, July 10, 2009


This week Mrs. Trowbridge's little shrew character finds himself in the subalpine meadows above Huckleberry Hollow in pursuit of the elusive rolling egg. The first two pages of the story can be found in the archive to your left.

Next week our son, Brad, and I will be returning to Mrs. Trowbridge's rain forest. This year we may explore the Skokomish River, hiking as far up the river as time will allow. When we return I'll report the results of our explorations on Twitter:

The rhododendrons in the background of my Twitter page are a close up detail from my latest watercolor. It took 94 hours over the span of a year to complete the painting on a full sheet of watercolor paper. If you would like information on my next Painting in Paradise watercolor workshop, check out my Painting in Paradise site:

Friday, June 12, 2009


Here's page two from Mrs. Trowbridge's story about a little shrew who found an egg beside the trail. The story will unfold in the coming weeks. Then, who knows, I might offer it as a book.

Click here for information on our upcoming Painting in Paradise workshop. We leave for Rarotonga on January 10, 2009.

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Monday, June 01, 2009


Here's more from the poetry pages of Mrs. Trowbridge's journal. She would adapt to the needs of her readers, and it seems that she often used her clever limericks to entertain her children and grand children. This poem will continue for the next few episodes.

Join me for our next Painting in Paradise trip in July. We're making plans now for a Painting in Paradise watercolor workshop on the exotic Caribbean island of St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Contact me at if you'd like to join us. Also, the big trip will be here before we know it, the Painting in Paradise Rarotonga workshop in the South Pacific. We leave on January 10, 2020. For details:

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Saturday, May 09, 2009


It's such a beautiful blue-sky day here in the Pacific Northwest (USA) today. My thoughts are already turning to the summer season and all the wonderful things that come along with summer. So I chose a summer page from Mrs. Trowbridge's journal, one of the poetry pages that she created for her children and grandchildren.

Summer was a grand time in Huckleberry Hollow. The grandest event was the midsummer Forest Festival, with a parade and lots of family events. But the young forest creatures were never without something to do. Every summer day was filled with fun and games, as seen above.

It's still months away, January 10, 2010 to be exact, but I'm already counting the days till our Painting in Paradise Workshop in Rarotonga. Some have already signed up, but there's still room for more. If you would like to learn how to paint exotic tropical flowers and landscapes in a South Sea paradise, you'll find all the info at the Painting in Paradise web site:

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Mrs. Trowbridge spent considerable time writing witty verses for her children and, later, her grandchildren. You'll note she abandoned her painterly style and used a simpler line and wash method for illustrating her verses.

She wrote in her journal that verses would descend upon her at the most unusual times; in the theater, while having tea with friends, or while preparing dinner. She would even be awakened in the middle of the night with a verse that would come to her in a dream.

Would you like to join me on the painting safari of a lifetime, to one of earth's most beautiful places? We leave on January 10, 2010...Click here for info.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Mrs. Trowbridge had committed to make a quilt for each of her children. On a cold breezy day in February she finally completed her lengthy task, having finished the beautiful rainbow pattern quilt that you see in her painting for her youngest son, Nils.

I have been inspired by Mrs. T's tradition of celebrating family events. I wish that I would have been able to pull away from my work responsibilities more often when our children were young. I hope that you can take time to celebrate occasions with your family.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Mrs. Trowbridge loved all things culinary, especially her winter stews. She had several stew pots, all decorated with her colorful tole designs. I was going to include her recipe for sowbug dandelion stew, but I didn't think that you would be interested.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


This is a rather rare page from Mrs. Trowbridge's journal. The only miniatures in her journal were painted over the course of a few weeks during one summer. This one was so small, only about 3/16 of an inch high, that I could only make out the image through a magnifying glass. I hope it helps to lift you from the doldrums of winter.

Though lovely in appearance, the Baldhip, or Wild Rose is not as exotic as it may appear in Mrs. T's journal page. I've seen them many times in the Olympic wilderness, but they are also commonly seen along the highways and byways of Western Washington. I shot this one along Highway 101 near Gardner, Washington, in the foothills of the Olympic Mountains.

Monday, January 12, 2009


It just occurred to me today that because of the flurry of activity over the holidays, the three-year reunion of The Trowbridge Chronicles passed uneventfully on January 1. It was then, just before midnight in 2006, that I posted the first page from Mrs. Trowbridge's journal. Happy Anniversary, Mrs. T.!

A reunion with my cousins over the holidays prompted me to post this page from Mrs. T.'s journal regarding a reunion with her cousins so long ago. Her reunion took place inside this nurse log that served as a tea shop. Note the tiny Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga pinaceae) seedling growing on the mossy top of the log. The little Banana slug (Ariolamax columbianus) looks on from above.

Nurse logs are a vital part of the rain forest ecosystem. As the log decays over time, it provides the vital nutrients necessary to turn a tiny seedling into a rain forest giant. Many other forest flora, like ferns and mushrooms, get their start on a nurse log. Death brings life.