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

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.

Summer

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

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

I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts and an FOTD

We’re in a heat advisory here in the Bluegrass. Temps in the 90’s and high humidity create a heat index of 109 and chances of heat illness are much higher. The air outside is sticky and it’s like breathing through a wet sponge. People with chronic illness or over 65 are requested to stay in air conditioned areas as much as possible so we’re inside our nice cool little town home with the shades drawn (to block sun heat), the air conditioner running, and cool beverages consumed.

Although we generally consume tea and water until this passes we’ll be adding in the electrolyte balancing coconut water, which got me to thinking about well – coconuts, and of course, that led me to Hawaii and this shot of a coconut palm near our hotel. Ahhhh…. the thirst quenching goodness of a just popped coconut. In Kauai they keep young green coconuts in a bin of ice, you purchase one, they lop off the top, dig out the plug and stick in a straw. Voila, instant health food. High in potassium and antioxidants, coconut water is an extremely hydrating beverage brimming with electrolytes. No fat, no sugar and cholesterol free, coconut water offers more potassium than four bananas. The coconut’s sweet, nutty taste makes the water quite refreshing, plus it is great for replacing lost fluids. So here’s to you *raising a young green coconut in salute*.

Coconuts on the tree on the Island of Kauai

“I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts
There they are, all standing in a row
Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head
Give them a twist a flick of the wrist
That’s what the showman said”

~Fred Heatherton

Challenge Prompts:

Cee’s FOTD
Marsha’s WQW prompt “Water: oceans or lakes”

Til next time ~Stay safe, stay sane, stay hydrated ~JP

Sunday Stills a Rosy Perspective

For Terri’s Sunday Stills monthly color challenge where we are working with “Pink.” I love pink, all kinds and shades of pink. I love pink flowers, pink clothes, pink sunrises, one of my favorite crystals to work with is rose quartz, you get the idea.

from my digital art collage collection

“Pretty pretty please don’t you ever, ever feel like you’re less than, less than perfect. And pretty, pretty please don’t you ever, ever feel like you’re nothing, ’cause you are perfect to me.” ~Pink

Above, a little digital piece with a quote from Pink’s song “Perfect.” There is a more explicit version so be warned if you go looking for the song lyrics.

A crazed computer screen on the fritz? A bizarre finger painting? Hmmmm

Here’s an eclectic bit of pink. What the heck are we looking at? A fish finder sonar screen of Loch Ness from our Nessie hunting trip. The different colors indicate varying water temperatures. It was a fabulous day spent on the waters of Loch Ness, if you have a chance to visit the Scottish Highlands, I highly recommend it.

Sign at the Osaka Rail Station

Here’s an interesting bit of pink signage. It seems that pink is universally associated with feminine. Here the boarding point for the “women only” car on a commuter train in Osaka, Japan. From what I have been told, at peak hours the train can be jam-packed and women complained that being squeezed up against men was undignified. Osaka responded by designating one or more cars as “women only” no men allowed.

An intrepid adventurer

Here a bright pink jacket and very long queue displayed on an intrepid adventurer climbing steps to a small shrine at the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” near Kyoto. Yes, that’s me ;-). Balancing precariously without a handrail I felt like a tightrope walker.

Pretty People

A young couple in traditional dress pose for pictures near Kyomizu. Love the bright pink kimono. Such charming people, they just smiled and waved to tourists snapping away. We were trying to capture the changing foliage but couldn’t find a way to frame the walkway and pond due to limited space. Ultimately, we just left the lovely people in and it turned out beautiful.

Of course, I can’t leave without some pink flowers.

Pale pink lotus flower

A delicate pink lotus flower growing in a large serenity pond in Suzhou, China. There were many different varieties of water lily and lotus in the pond. Lotus tend to be taller and rise above the water much more than a water lily. There you have it, teaching moment. 😉

pink rhododendron

And finally, a gorgeous rhododendron from my all-time favorite flower photography place, the Queens Garden in Invercargill, NZ. The park nearly over flows with rhododendrons of every color and size.

This week’s challenge prompts:

Cee’s Midweek Madness “Any pale color” – see Lotus above
Cee’s FOTD – rhododendron

That’s it from Castle Serenity for this week. Til next time remember

~ Look for me where the wild things are ~JP

Wednesday Walkabout – St. George Utah Pioneer Square

Ahhhh I have a computer … FINALLY so I thought we’d go walkabout in St. George, UT and see what we can find for Marsha’s PPAC along the way. Last summer was a crazy kind of blur running from every disaster known to man, crowds, fires, air quality (or lack there of), hail storms, you name it. During the mad dash across the west, we spent some time in St. George, UT when a blown wheel bearing caused some rescheduling. Never one to shirk from the unexpected day trip, we set off on an adventure while the cheese-mobile was in the shop. We stopped at “Pioneer Square” in downtown St. George to visit some museums and other artsy spots

Sushi at Pioneer Square

First Stop was lunch at Benja Thai & Sushi. Good food and cool inside. With temps over 110° f, this was a major consideration. We lingered over cold noodle bowls, sushi and iced green tea for as long as we could ;-).

Landscape Art

Venturing into the heat of the afternoon and came upon a nifty little water feature which provided a natural cooling ambiance. Water features are works of art in the desert as humans endeavor to make the stark landscape more palatable. The heat quickly overcame us though so we headed back indoors to find the aforementioned museums and art galleries.

A welcome cool-down spot

Regrettably, all museums and galleries within our walking distance (albeit very short distance in the heat), were closed due to pandemic concerns. Southern Utah got hit pretty hard and “elective” services were few and far between. Our driver told us that several restaurants and other entertainment venues remained closed through summer 2021. We quickly became seriously overheated and so very happy to come across this lovely little cafe. I love the graphics on the sign, as well as the name of the place and the greenery along the building.

Chalkboard Art – and beignets

I just adore chalkboard art. The graphics and colors for some reason just call to me. I may have to do a spread on chalkboard art. Not to mention that iced coffee and a lovely little treat was just the restorative I needed. The beignets looked lovely but in that kind of heat, fried food is just not for me so I opted for a beautiful little fruit tart and a half-sweet iced chai. Yummmm….

vintage looking tile mosaic

This vintage-looking floor mosaic really captured my attention. I love tile floors for their vintage feel and the sheer artistry involved in making them. Alas, this was about all the art we found with the galleries either closed or beyond my walking distance.

hotel room view – smoke haze in the distance

Time to pick up the car and head to a local hotel for the next couple of days. This is the view off of our room’s balcony. If you can look beyond the traffic and signs the mountains are really beautiful. The skies were filled with haze from distant fires filtering south. No matter where we went, pervasive smoke drove us ever on.

Dino art

And so, the next morning we headed out to the local grocery for supplies. I was delighted by this lobby display of the local velociraptor guarding the chips. There are several dinosaur track attractions nearby featuring velociraptor tracks and I do adore all things Dino. 😉

That’s all from Castle Serenity for today. Til next time remember, there is beauty everywhere if you look for it. If you can’t see it, look again. And if you still can’t see it, look harder. ~JP