Friday Flashback – Venice of the East

Welcome to another edition of Fandango’s Flashback Friday, where we are opening up some of our blogging archives from yesteryear. This was originally posted for Sonofabeach96’s Which Way Challenge on June 24, 2019.

a canal in Suzhou, China

Suzhou was once at the center of the Chinese silk trade. Today, it is much more celebrated for it’s art, delicate gardens, thousand year old temples, and of course romantic water towns and canals. It is these that have earned it the name “Venice of the East.” A thoroughly charming city all modernized but still holding on to it’s 2,500 years of history and architecture.

Til next time ~Peace ~JP

Thoughtful Thursday – Use It Up – Music to my ears

Lessons learned from the Great Depression, via my Grandmother’s kitchen plaque “Use it up, wear it out, make it last, do without.” For the near future, I’ll be focusing on these four strategies. Starting at the beginning “use it up.” OK this is kind of a no-brainer, use all the ketchup, DON’T let leftovers rot in the back of the fridge, utilize that prepper pantry etc. etc. But when I dug a little deeper, I found a lot of assets I am under-utilizing. One of those is my library. We have a wonderful library here in our little town. Many, many resources both on-line and brick and mortar. I recently had an epiphany about just how important music is to me. It sets the tone for my day, times my workouts, inspires me, soothes me; it can pump me up or lull me to sleep. While we were living in South Dakota, I played background music all day, everyday, on the sound system in our RV. Castle Serenity has no such system and I do not feel inclined to spend the money to purchase a new one, soooo I mostly use my phone. I have a wonderful little resource from my library called Freegal which allows me to download 5 songs per week from the library for free. The same library also offers digital albums to borrow rather like e-books. I have a fairly impressive collection of CD’s that I’ve ripped to my backup drive so all, in all I’ve got LOTS of music available. Now, how to utilize it.

I use a little off-line music player (since they did away with googleplay ;-p) called musicolet, works great and, oh yeah it’s FREE. I curate a new playlist for my mornings every month and I’m adding new playlists for evenings and workouts. Here is my “Morning Activities” play list for June:

Beautiful Day – Joshua Radin
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
Mine – Taylor Swift
Time in a Bottle – Jim Croce
59th Street Bridge Song – Harpers Bizarre
Super Trooper – ABBA
Bubbly – Colbie Caillat
Come a Little Bit Closer – Jay and the Americans
Hands – Jewel
Firework – Katy Perry
Gypsy – Fleetwood Mac
I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack

There you have it, how I’ve stopped buying music (download or hard copy) by “using up” what I have. If you utilize Spotify, you can also find this playlist here. Next week I’ll touch on the more obvious use for Libraries: reading.

Til next time ~Stay Safe and Be Kind to each other ~JP

Walkabout Wednesday – Westfir Oregon and some Public Art

Western Tiger Swallowtail on a HUGE buddelia

We quickly acclimated ourselves to the local flora and fauna and spent many days watching the Western Tiger Swallowtail butterflies cavort among the profuse blossoms of the biggest buddleia (butterfly bush) I have ever seen .

Look at those pinecones

We enjoyed some meals at an adorable little cafe which was about the only restaurant in town that was open for dine-in. Friendly staff and good food. I adore the hand painted mural on the concrete walls and check out the size of those pinecones!

More than a mouthful

The lumber country feel of the place was both fun and soothing. This hand-made wood sign would have been perfectly at home hanging over a camp cook’s stove.

More mural art

More of the forest mural on the concrete block walls.

Chambers Railroad Bridge

While driving here and there, we stopped at some of the covered bridges. The Chambers Railroad Bridge is the only remaining covered railroad bridge west of the Mississippi. It was constructed in 1925 by lumberman J.H. Chambers to transport logs across the Coast Fork Willamette River. In the 1950s, the railroad was sold and the bridge, no longer in use, it began to decay. By 2006, the bridge had experienced significant structural damage

The City of Cottage Grove raised grants, awards, and funds from many sources to repair and refurbish the once grand bridge. The bridge was dismantled, rebuilt, and restored on-site; and in November 2011, it reopened. Original material was reused when feasible and the rebuilding was done as historically accurate as possible. Interpretive panels were installed along with iron artwork depicting the steam engines that once passed through. Today, this former “bridge to nowhere” in the middle of Cottage Grove, Oregon, is a beautiful tribute to the past, a historical triumph, and a proud testament to the power of hard work and imagination.

Linking up to Marsha’s PPAC this week do come on over and see some great art.

Til next time ~Not All Who Wander Are Lost ~JP

Sunday Stills – Ahhhh Summer Solstice – Again

In Sunday Stills this week, Terri invites to take a look at the Summer Solstice … again. While Marsha’s WQW prompt is June Holidays and Johnbo’s cellpic sunday invites us to get out and USE that cell phone camera! So without further ado, let’s get rollin’.

Little fluffy puffs of goose

Summer Solstice, also known as Litha and Midsummer’s Eve, is nearly upon us. Days are longer, nights are shorter, and the natural world is full of life. I adore Summer Solstice. The celebration of life, the long days, the warm evenings, a glass of iced tea on my deck, watching the goslings.

Young geese

It seems I can almost see them growing in just a few weeks. With the summer warmth and abundance of yummy green stuff, they have transformed from little balls of fluff into sturdy young geese.

Wee-bity bunny

“Life finds a way.” ~Dr. Ian Malcolm – Jurassic Park

A wee-bity bunny hides from the summer solstice heat in South Dakota. He is so perfectly camouflaged he is hard to spot. He was just a bit larger than the palm of my hand. Taken with my Moto g6, cropped and resized in windows photos and paint, yeah I know I’m such a techie ;-).

“Ancestor” metal sculpture Salisbury, UK

Because no Solstice celebration would be complete without some tribute to my beloved Stonehenge, “The Ancestor.” The Ancestor, built by Andy and Michelle Rawlings, made it’s debut at Stonehenge for the summer solstice 2010. It was built of thousands of bits of steel pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle and weighs about 7 tonnes. This shot was taken in front of the Holiday Inn Stonehenge, in Salisbury, UK.


There’s just something about a driftwood covered beach that says “I am Summer, come take off your shoes, dig your toes in my sand.” Here a couple of wild adventurers have ditched their shoes to dance in the waves on the beach near Kapaa, Hawaii.

A feather in the wind Westfir, Oregon

“Life is short. It can come and go like a feather in the wind.”
~Shania Twain

For that other beloved June Holiday – Father’s Day, I offer

“There are things that I’ve forgotten that I loved about the man,

but I’ll always remember the love in Daddy’s hands.”

~Holly Dunn

That’s it from Castle Serenity have a wonderful week ~Peace ~JP

For the Love of Little Homophones – a SOCS Limerick

For Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday where Dan (from No Facilities) is filling in from farther south on the eastern North American grid and has provided us with:

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “cent/scent/sent.” Use them in any form you like. Use one, use two or use them all. Bonus points if you use all three, and Cheryl will put your next drink on David’s tab. I know, you used to get bonus points for two, but inflation… Enjoy!

Oh for the love of little homophones … let’s see what we got

The Letter

He gazed down at the letter she sent
sealed with her personal scent
bad poetry groans did accrue
for the letter arrived postage due
her stamp short by one cent


Til next time ~Stay trippy hippies ~JP

Flashback Friday – Spring Green

Here we are with Friday Flashback … again. I mean seriously, it’s Friday? Again? Already? Man my Daddy was NOT kidding when he said “once you’re over the hill, you pick up speed.” Fandango’s Flashback Friday aims to reintroduce some earlier works. So here is a wee bit of micro-fiction from June 17, 2021, originally written in response to Crimson’s Creative Challenge # 136


The clouds gathered dark that day, blotting out the sun. Dark and ominous with jagged edges, holding the promise for rain. Xere paused, savoring the cool shade. Desiccated earth beneath her feet cracked and crumbled, as her lungs cried out for moisture. No storm came to quench earth or skin. No rain fell that day, or any day since.

Til next time ~Stay Trippy Hippies ~JP

Thoughtful Thursday – What I did to save money this week #1

Illustration from Pixabay wording added by me

This is a bit of an odd post for me but with inflation rates in the US at their highest since 1981, is there anybody who’s NOT thinking about ways to save a little. Gas prices haven’t topped $5/gallon here in the Bluegrass … yet but are only a few cents shy. Our family in the northern part of the state has already passed that $5 mark. I have brothers on the west coast (OK yeah California) who tell me they have to sneak up on the gas pump lest his credit card commit hari kari and shred itself in mid- transaction.

I remember my paternal grandmother talking about life during the Great Depression and all the things they did to survive. When I was too young to realize how incredibly rude it was, I made a face and “ewww” at the mention of bacon-grease gravy and potatoes for breakfast. My grandmother quickly shot back “better gravy and potatoes for breakfast than no breakfast.” Ouch, grandchild put in place happily ate said breakfast and discovered that she really enjoyed it (add a little sliced fresh tomato from the garden YUMMMM). A small hand-painted plaque in Grandma’s kitchen proclaimed “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Advice I followed passionately while surviving the 1980s.

So to help combat out-of-control inflation (and my general financial anxiety) we’re starting to revisit some of our frugal practices from the 1980s. We’re starting with saving gas. This week we have:

  • Consolidated trips to town by shopping after doctor’s appointment.
  • We converted another medical appointment to Telemed saving a trip into town.
  • Filled gas tank at Costco during monthly trip saved $.30/gallon
  • Reduced grocery store runs to 2 per week – This is actually a biggie here, since the main part of our diet is fresh fruit and vegetables. We used to shop 3-4 times per week so this is a big reduction.
  • We drive a Honda Fit so our mileage is pretty good but we always practice eco-friendly driving. Always have, always will.

Not too shabby for a start. Do you find yourself revisiting frugality in light of the current fiscal situation? What are you doing to save a bit?

Til next time ~May the wind be always at your back ~JP

Wednesday Walkabout – Red Canyon Utah

I’m back with another episode of Walkabout Wednesday where we’ll take a short walk in some of the places we’ve visited. Today we’re stopping off in Red Canyon, Utah. Located along Highway 12 in Southern Utah, just 13 miles from Bryce National Park lies Red Canyon. Part of the Dixie National Forest, it is home to several hiking trails and lots of fantasy spires and hoodoos for which the area is famous.

Hoodoos – rocks or sculptures?

We stopped by the visitor center only to learn that it was closed due to covid concerns. The restrooms and trails were open though so off we went. Poor air quality from wild fires conspired with an elevation of 7400 feet to keep us on the bunny trail which goes around the visitor center and back away off the road.

Legend People

We are surrounded by water and ice-shaped sculptures affectionately known as hoodoos. The hoodoo’s tall, knobby and eerie shapes have earned them many names throughout history. The Paiute Indians of this area call them “legend people.” When Anglo settlers saw the formations, they called them “fairy chimneys” from their own myths. This hoodoo rich area was dubbed “Utah’s Fairyland.”

Legend Person fall down, go boom

Legend person fall down, go boom. BIG boom. It is not uncommon to see fallen rocks from breaks in the formations and rock slides. The sandstone formations are permeable and over time break down which is how they were formed after all.

Symbiosis at work

We came across this stunning boulder in varying states of decomposition. The black and colored specks are lichen which makes it a stunning example of nature’s symbiosis.

Oh, that’s what symbiosis is

Above, for those of you who were wondering what the heck red rocks have to do with symbiosis …. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough lichen in the world to filter out that much ozone and smoke so we headed off to our next destination, Vernal Utah.

Vernal Dino Land

We had plans to visit all of the dino attractions and had been looking forward to this section of the trip in particular. Unfortunately, upon arriving I discovered that the throbbing headache I’d been fighting all day was accompanied by a fever. Quick call to my PCP back in South Dakota advised that it could be Covid delta variant (that was making the rounds last year) we were both fully vaccinated so best advice was to treat it like a flu, rest, water, and self-quarantine for 5 days.

Dino Art At Last!

So this towel sculpture at our hotel was as close as we got to the dino-art I was hoping to photograph. The museums and activities would have to wait for another time as we spent our 5 day stay in the hotel. On the upside, we did find several restaurants that delivered to our hotel, so we didn’t starve and honestly, the virus laid me out too bad to do much but sleep anyway.

Linking up to Marsha’s PPAC #50 this week. Do go check out some of the posts so much fun 🙂

That’s the conclusion of our walkabout this week.

From Castle Serenity ~Remember there is beauty as far as the eye can see ~JP