Packet Boat on the Monongahela

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Packet Boats ran up and down the river in the early 1900s. These boats were smaller than the sternwheelers that ran up and down the Mississippi. As you can, see the paddle wheel is on the side of the boat instead of on the back.

I found a photo of this one on my hometown site and decided to try to do it in watercolor today. I am still trying to get it right. Watercolors are quite different to work with than the acrylics I have been using. This scene is on the Monongahela River in Southwestern Pennsylvania, not far from where I grew up.

Packet boat’s wheel churns

White foam trailing in the wake

Steam power long gone

Watercolor Painting: Dwight L. Roth

The Unami word Monongahela means “falling banks”, in reference to the geological instability of the river’s banks. Moravian missionary David Zeisberger (1721–1808) gave this account of the naming: “In the Indian tongue the name of this river was Mechmenawungihilla (alternatively spelled Menawngihella), which signifies a high bank, which is ever washed out and therefore collapses.”[11]     ~Wikapedia

Tadpoles or Frogs

My little green frog that lives under my deck seems to have laid her eggs in my rain barrel. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed tadpoles swimming when I opened the lid to get some water for my geraniums.

A day or two later I emptied most of the fifty gallons of water on my garden, leaving about a foot of water in the bottom. I could not imagine they would survive in the hot 94 F temps we were having at the time. When we got a light rain a few days later, there they were swimming around in the barrel. I decided to leave them there and watch them for a while.

Yesterday I noticed they were growing hind legs. I can’t imagine that they are still alive and thriving. So, what do I do now? Leave them there to mature or dump them on my garden? Not an easy question to answer.

Tiny tadpoles swim

Growing in my rain barrel

Frogs or tadpoles


Life’s unexpected challenge

Leaving choices to be made


Who should decide?

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Photos: Dwight L. Roth

Update: 7-9-2022

The tadpoles have been growing legs; first hind legs and then front ones. We had a couple of heavy thunderstorms this week. I thought I would scoop some of them out and put them in the ditch/stream which now has standing water in it. When I opened the lid, I was surprised to find only three of the thirty plus tadpoles still swimming there. Apparently, they all floated out the overflow notch I had cut in the top of the barrel.  Not sure how they survived, but they must have figured it was time to make their escape!

Breathing or Choked

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When this came through the Habitat Restore where I volunteer, I recognized it to be the air/choke intake for a two-barrel carburetor. If you were born after 1980 you probably don’t know what it is or how it works. I believe it mounts on top of a two-barrel carburetor that feeds the air and gas to the car engine with a steady misty spray. The gas is drawn into the engine by the pistons going up and down, sucking the gas through. The little flaps lying open in the center of each tube close if more gas is needed and open when the engine warms up. Perhaps some of you car enthusiasts can give us more information.

Larger V-8 engines had four-barrel carburetors which doubled the amount of gas flow to the engine, therefore increasing the power. They were also used on race cars to increase power and speed.

Newer technology made carburetors obsolete, with the development of electronic fuel injection which perfectly controls the flow of fuel for every condition. That is why cars today start of the first or second turn of the engine.

New technology

Makes car engines run smoothly

Carburetors gone


Photo: Dwight L. Roth

A Nest in My Hat

“You cannot keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair”/hat ― Martin Luther


I have an old straw hat that I wear on hot sunny days as I mow the yard.  When I am done, I hang it upside down between two shelf braces in my garage. My garage door is often open as I am in and out of the house. Seems my little wren wondered into the garage and found my hat a perfect place to make a nest. Last week when I decided I needed it to mow the yard, I took my hat down and this is what I found. This is the second time I found a nest being made in my hat.

Straw hat inviting

little wren, “Come build your nest!”

Squatter evicted

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Posting this one on the Open Link Night for d’Verse Poets Pub.

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Northern Lights: Nature’s Fireworks

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In Northern Alberta where my wife grew up, Northern Lights were a common occurrence in the night sky. I have only seen photos of them, but I wanted to see if I could paint a picture that somewhat resembled them. This is a view of her home that I got from a couple of old photos. The painting is 30″ x 40″.  We had a break in the heat this past weekend, so I was able to work on this one.

Northern Lights glowing

across the cold winter sky

Nature’s best fireworks


Dwight L. Roth

Here is one for all my blogging friends in the Southern Hemisphere! First day of winter for you!

Sharing this with d’Verse Poets Pub for Frank’s Summer/Winter Solstice prompt.

Join us at:

I realized after I finished that I had the perspective for the workshop on the left turned the wrong way. It should have been perpendicular to the house and parallel with the garden fence.  So now two months later I repainted the workshop in the right direction and added some color to the houses along with a few more tweaks. See what you think.

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Father’s Stories

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My father had a heart attack in 1975, when he was 65 years old. He recovered and lived for five more years. After he recovered, I realized if I wanted to find out about his life, I needed to ask him now. I took my cassette recorder and sat down with him asking him to tell me about his childhood. The tape ran for almost an hour as we talked back and forth. I took the tape home and put it in my file drawer. I did not know when I would get it out and listen to it again.

Forty years later, I decided to write a biographical fiction book about my grandfather who came to this country when he was six years old. He was a most interesting man who was a concrete mason in Central Pennsylvania. One of his hobbies was catching and breeding skunks! He operated on them and took out their stink glands, selling them as pets and also selling the hides. It was during my writing of his story that I remembered my father’s interview tape. It was most helpful in adding depth to the story.

Most young folks are too preoccupied to think about asking parents or grandparents to tell them their stories. Sadly, most of the stories die with them when they are gone. I urge you to ask your questions while you can. Your fathers and mothers will not always be around.

Father’s Day stories

Lifetime of memories shared

Ask them while you can


Photo: Dwight L. Roth

You can read my grandfather’s biographical fiction here:

The Natural Air Conditioner

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As I stay in my house with the air conditioner running full blast, I dream of a return to the natural cool found in the Pisgah National Forest. Trees are Nature’s air conditioner, and the cool water of the mountain waterfall is more refreshing than any artificial cool.  The rocks above show the upheaval of the Earth’s tumultuous past, while downstream the water flattens out to a wonderful calm place for people to swim.

Summer heatwave

Making birds and people pant

Dreams of a cool stream

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Photos of Looking Glass Falls: Dwight L. Roth

Choose Your Hypnotist


A willing subject is the key

Believing all will be

What is spoken to me

Tickling my itching ears

Stirring my righteous anger

Calling me to do what

I would never dream of doing

had this spell not been cast

on me…

so willingly

This is my second poem for the prompt Spell. As I watch some of what is going on with the Senate hearings on the January 6th riots at the Capital, I had to think about why this happened. The hypnotist chooses willing subjects to do his bidding, but the subjects usually choose who they want for their hypnotist! This is not only true in politics.

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Painting: Dwight L. Roth

Summer Red Sky

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Red sky in the morning casts an eerie spell

over calm flat ocean waves

Is it an ominous warning to sailors?

…or simply warning us of an intense UV day

Either way, wise choices

will tell their tale at the end of the day

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’verse Sanaa asked us to write a Quadrille of exactly 44 words using the word Spell as our prompt.  Join us at:

“Red sky in the morning ….sailors take warning.

Red sky at night ….a sailor’s delight.”