Magical Mundanities Episode 1 – magic in shades of gray

Floribunda rose in black and white, Westfir, Oregon

It’s easy to love a sunrise. The promise of a new day, bright, vibrant colors transform ordinary clouds into enchanting abstract patterns. Yes, it’s easy to love bright colors. It takes a special kind of soul though to love a lead-gray sky. I do because I see. I see the divine in a tiny bit of clear quartz among the gravel bed. I see the promise of eternity in the monochrome grayness of a cloudy day. I spend my days trying to be open to everyday epiphanies, the magical mundanities, of an ordinary life.

In nature I find gray everywhere, perhaps because it makes such a perfect backdrop. Perhaps because it’s everywhere. Perhaps because it is the middle of the road, half way between black and white, like the color of my hair, old enough to know better, but still willing to take a bash at it.

For Sunday Stills where our color challenge is Gray

Here gray concrete paving stones provide a backdrop for a young black swallowtail with brilliant wing stripes in Jiujiang, China

A white-faced Heron stalks his shadow in New Zealand

Gray mist hangs over the pavilion at Lulin Lake on Lushan Mountain, China

Vast gray depths and composition of a cloud formation in Rapid City, SD, USA

“Tall buildings no bigger than blocks on the floor
Wellington afloat on the harbour haze:
You think of how most men spend their days
In offices as cramped as elevators…”

Well weathered words of wisdom on faded gray planks of Wellington NZ waterfront.

If we were having coffee this week, I’d confide in hushed tones that I’ve never liked the color black for a wardrobe choice *insert shocked gasp*. Black is technically the absence of color and frankly, it washes out my already pale complexion. Then, I discovered all the infinite possibilities of gray. It has become a staple neutral of my wardrobe.

Ah well, I’m off to ponder the questions of the universe including the antics of the gray dove outside my window.

Til next time ~Stay Wild Moonchild ~JP

Sunday Stills – Water Water Everywhere

For Sunday Stills where our prompt is “water.” Oooohhh, water, I love water. I believe in another life, I was a mermaid, or a Hawaiian princess, whichever, maybe both. I have swam in every kind of water from lakes to rivers, to oceans, to really big puddles (Salton Sea). I can’t pass a puddle without stomping in it and I can’t pass up an opportunity to stick my feet in every sea, lake and river I can. I am also, partly, a water sign …. oh yeah!

Above, the great tide pool adventure in Florence, Oregon. I love the Pacific Northwest coast line, so rocky and graphic and full of adventure.

Farther south, turtles swim in Hanauma Bay on the island of Oahu, Hawaii

Still farther south, the Southern Pacific Ocean, off the coast of New Zealand. Hmmmm, these are all pacific ocean shots. What else can I come up with.

How about Stirling Castle on Loch Lomond, Scottish Highlands

or Urquhart castle on Loch Ness, why yes we did go hunting Nessie while there. 😉

There’s oceans and lakes, how about falls? … Opaeka Falls on the island of Kauai

or the Middle Fork of the Willamette River near Oakridge, Oregon

Salmon swimming “upstream” at the fish hatchery near Oakridge, Oregon. I love this shot we had so much fun at the hatchery capturing unique photo ops. These are fingerling salmon about 2 inches long already learning to fight the falls.

Til next time ~Stay Wild Moonchild ~JP

Sunday Stills — Blessed be the wild things

For Sunday Stills – celebrating kids and pets

“The time has come,” I thought today
“to ponder many things
like kids and pets and photographs
and why the wild bird sings”

I find myself in a bewilderment. Kids and pets … hmmm, I have no pets, and I generally don’t post pictures of kids (even my own). So that leaves me with those beautiful souls with whom we share this little blue world. I love the feeling of awe when I encounter animals in their natural habitat. I say a little prayer of thanks and treasure the places where the wild things are.

Above, a juvenile big horn sheep in Zion National Park, Utah. They sometimes come down from the higher elevations to feed and pose for tourists.

Here American Buffalo at Custer State Park in South Dakota. You don’t realize how truly huge they are until you experience them up close.

One harried momma duck with a passel of ducklings in Christ Church, NZ. We watched them cross the path heading for the pond, and laughed and laughed and laughed at Momma scolding and herding the brood. Yes, the comedy of motherhood is universal.

My precious little puff balls – Great Horned Owlets in our big pine in South Dakota. I think these count as both pets and kids. We watched them all summer grow from tiny bits of fluff to the day they stretched their wings and set out on their own. They were no longer cute little babies but full grown, gasp inspiring, raptors.

The Three Amigos in the Marlborough District of NZ. In a field full of spring lambs, these little guys found themselves a hill to defend. 🙂

Til next time ~Meet me where the wild things are ~JP

Sunday Stills – In Violet Perfusion

For Sunday Stills our monthly color challenge and the couleur du mois is *insert drum roll* — VIOLET! OK, I have a confession to make, I am a “purple” kind of person, my aura is violet with deep blue accents. Any shade of violet from deep eggplant to pastel lavender works for me.

Violet is the color of light at the short wavelength end of the visible spectrum, between blue and invisible ultraviolet. It is one of the seven colors that Isaac Newton labeled when dividing the spectrum of visible light in 1672. Violet light has a wavelength between approximately 380 and 450 nanometers. Wikipedia

Skies painted in whorls
of violet perfusion
the visible spectrum
fading into light

 

Another sunrise on Kauai. I keep returning to that particular island, that particular town, that particular hotel, always seeking and always finding, that certain slant of light.

Reflections at Byodo-in temple on Oahu. A spectacularly simple water lily.

A lovely little hollyhock, springing out before her sisters. Violet is such a shocking color in nature, I can’t just pass it by but must stop and ponder it’s vibrancy and meaning.

Violet lily of the valley “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” ~Alice Walker

Sunset beyond the mountains in Kaikoura, NZ I wonder if beyond those mountains lay Laketown. “It simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons in it.” ~JRR Tolkien

Pinkish violet beaver tail flowers, because violet should always shock and enthrall us.

Til next time ~Stay Wild Moonchild ~JP

Sunday Stills — Emerging in Spring

Marsha at Always Write is hosting Sunday Stills this week, where our prompt is “Emerging.” So appropriate for Spring. Here in the Black Hills, we are still waiting for Spring patiently, ummm… with hopeful hearts … oh c’mon already. So here’s a little emerging tale from my archives and a few current shots as well.

Through the silent winter
the world deeply slumbers
emerging in the spring I find
everything is different
and yet
everything’s the same

Spring is slowly emerging from the frozen Winter, here annuals beginning to pop up in the flower beds, ready to start a new season.

Things bloom late in this part of the country but when they do, oh my. The world quickly become a cacophony of sight and scent as the flowers compete for attention.

Here a shot from the high deserts of Utah, as succulents wriggle their way out of a crack in the stones. A classic example of “bloom where you are planted.”

And finally, a tiny sand crab emerging from his hidey hole on the beach in Kapaa, Hawaii

That’s it for this week, here at Chez Spoons, we wait for Spring to emerge from Winter’s cold embrace.

Til next time ~Stay Wild Moonchild ~JP

Sunday Stills — Immortality of Cats

Marsha is hosting for Terri’s Sunday Stills for a couple of weeks, do pop over and get some great cat advice — mrrrow ;-).

Here’s the thing, I don’t have cats, or dogs, or mice, or birds. In fact, I have no pets at all. Our lifestyle doesn’t work well for pets, we’re out of the country most years, sometimes for months at a time. My last feline friend passed away in 2003 at the age of 19. The only pictures I have are hard copies, packed away. That said, I did find a shot on pinterest that is an exact duplicate of my Fluffy Cat, and I totally get the sentiment.

Image from pinterest – unknown origins

A long haired tortoise shell with just a dappling of white. She was beautiful, and teeny tiny. She weighed just 6 lbs beneath the deep fluff.

Cats have played an important role in history since the time of the ancient Egyptians. Bastet and Sekhmet are probably the most widely recognized of the cat headed goddesses. Cats were revered as gods and represented justice, fertility and power. Cats have never forgotten this. Ask anyone with cats and you will undoubtedly discover that no one “owns” a cat. Mysticism surrounds them and humans still immortalize them.

In modern times, we still pay homage to our feline friends, here a pair of Maneki-neko or “Happy Cats” in an underground mall in Osaka, Japan. The picture is a bit fuzzy as the statues were in a lighted glass enclosure. Carved from variegated marble reminiscent of the calico coloring.

We immortalize them in statues, in cuddly toys, in cartoons, and in food. Here the Hello Kitty Cafe in Kyoto, Japan.

And or course no tale of the immortal cat would be complete without Tom Jones’ classic.

Til next time ~What’s New Pussycat ~JP

Sunday Stills – Love of a leaf

For Sunday Stills our monthly color prompt is “spring green.” Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m more of an Autumn foliage photographer. Honestly, not a lot blooms or grows or gets green up here until sometime in April. Once again, photo archives to the rescue. The images that follow all evoke that feeling of Spring Green for me.

Love of a Leaf

Do not love me as a flower
it’s easy to love a flower
all heady aroma and beauty
that quickly fades and dies

Love me as a leaf
challenging, extraordinary
plain, simple and strong
holding tight when winds blow

Bleeding Hearts little ground level eye candy. I love the profusion of little leaves just emerging.

Coconuts Oahu, Hawaii Yes that is what a coconut actually looks like before it is harvested and shucked. When they reach maturity, they often become heavy and fall to the ground. Which can be dangerous when you’re busy snapping photos or walking down the path. Most often, the coconuts are removed from trees in “tourist” areas to avoid such unfortunate encounters with gravity, so I was really happy to be able to snap this shot.

Wild flowers in a crack in a boulder near Devils Tower, Wyoming. The beauty of Life is everywhere, you have but to open your eyes to see it.

A Lace Leaf Japanese Maple, at Queens Garden, Invercargill, NZ. I adore Japanese Maples, so delicate and gentle. I had them at my house in Kentucky and have seen many exceptional specimens in Kyoto Japan. Imagine, a Japanese Maple in, of all places, Japan.

Water Lilies Suzhou, China. I love water lilies, always have. We had them in our fish ponds in the house where I grew up. The lily pads are exquisite, long after the flowers have faded.

Unidentified yellow flower spike in Taichung, Taiwan. I love the way the leaves change as the plant grows. I have no clue what the plant is, but I love the vibrant green. btw, if you recognize the plant, let me know in the comments, my curiosity is peaked but no one in our party knew.

What I’m listening to today:

Til next time ~Stay Wild Flower Child ~JP

Sunday Stills – Some things are better in black and white

For Terri’s Sunday Stills Challenge where our theme is black and white

OK this one’s a toughie for me, I am in all honesty, not even sure my digital camera has a B&W setting. My photo editor does though.
While not all photos can handle the stark lines of B&W, I love the nostalgic feel of them. So, let’s dig through the archives and see what we come up with.

Scenes in black and white
undertones of grey
fill my dreams at night
with reminders of the day

 

Iris after a rain in Invercargill, NZ. Free of the brilliant color, the eye notices more the contrast of the sharp edges of leaves, the delicate frills of the blossom and, of course, the glisten of rain drops.

Pinecone on snow. Of course, some shots just don’t have much color to begin with. My eye is naturally drawn to the symmetry of the open scales, and of course, their sharp points.

Trees after the Legion Lake fires in 2017. The wildfire burned over 84 square miles of the Black Hills. Although the fire was devastating, the forest and wildlife were quick to recover. This shot of some of the fire and heat damaged trees is actually more appealing to me in B&W. It feels more “nostalgic” and the damage is much less obvious.

Another snow shot. Maybe it’s just me but I think the scene becomes too bland.

A variegated floribunda rose, in the park, Westfir, Oregon. On this shot, I like the depth that the B&W gives to the petal frills. The enhanced shadow effect instantly conveys a timeless, sophisticated spirit to the shot.

A portrait in B&W. I love the nostalgic feel of B&W portraits. This is a photo, of a pastel painting, made from a photo. If you have sufficient resolution, you can just make out the shimmer of an unfallen tear on the baby’s eye.

If we were having coffee this week, at Natalie’s weekend coffee share, I’d tell you about the snow. Yep, after two weeks of sub-zero temps, followed by a week of highs in the 60’s, we now have about a foot of snow. South Dakota weather, gotta love it. Sprang the clocks forward Sunday and oh my word I really miss that hour!

Til next time ~Peace ~JP

Sunday Stills – Peace in the Rain

For Sunday Stills where our theme is “rain.”

Rains come and rains go
warm touch, melting snow
rainy days spent by the fire
your hand in mine, all I require
pitter patter’s old refrain
I find peace in the rain

There are so many types of rain. All of which have been in short supply this year here in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I’ve reached into my archives for some examples.

First there’s Impending Rain that rain that you feel coming, the drops just haven’t fallen … yet — rain on the horizon, Kapaa, Kauai

Then there’s Calm Drenching Rain — the kind that makes farmers happy as it nourishes young plants. A rainy day walk in Shinsekai Market, Osaka, Japan

There’s the gentle passing rain, just enough to wet the flowers and remind us how beautiful rain truly is. Here a few glistening drops on an Iris in Queens Garden, Invercargill, NZ.

 

And then there’s the Violent Frozen Rain, the bane of farmers, ranchers, and RV owners alike — Hail. Above is a shot of the first hail storm I ever encountered, it fell with a startling ferocity (native Californian that I am). The hail stones are tiny really, and I have seen much, much worse (baseball size stones) since.

 

And then there’s the rain that everyone fears, the Unstoppable Rain. Water is such a gentle element that sometimes we need a reminder that it can also be deadly, ferocious, and terrifying. Five days of flooding left us and most of our neighbors stranded in the RV park when our tiny creek over flowed it’s banks and took out the bridge. In this shot, the flood waters. From this angle, the creek is generally not visible.

Til next time ~Chin up buttercup, Spring’s here ~JP

Sunday Stills — The Rose that Blooms

Red Rose in Pahrump, Nevada — on the way to Death Valley 62 miles west of Las Vegas — deep desert.

For Sunday Stills our monthly color challenge for February is *insert drum roll* Rosy Red.

Of all the beauties in life
none are quite so grand
as the rose that bloom
in the desert sands

 

 

Speaking of unlikely rosy reds — this Claret Cup cactus definitely catches the eye. These buds open to resemble a wine glass filled with …. yep claret.

 

For some exotic rosy reds, how about these Ti plants from the Dole Plantation Gardens, Oahu Hawaii

 

For a little more exotic goodness how about these red beauties. Actually, I prefer them in their roasted form. Yep those are “coffee cherries” the fruit from which coffee beans come to make that magical potion known throughout the civilized world as COFFEE. Yes, I’m a bit of an enthusiast. This tour through the Kauai Coffee Plantation came with free, unlimited tastings of their many, many, many varietals and flavors. Superhubs blames this excusion for my new found love of “flavored” coffees, says it has corrupted my pallet. Hey, you can’t say I’ve had too much coffee, you don’t know me that well, maybe I LIKE twitching! OK, maybe a decaf macchiato, with a few chocolate covered peaberries (mutant coffee bean).

 

A bit more exotic rosy red flamboyance, this adult macaw, flying wild and free …. well sort of, in Pahrump, Nevada. He, his mate and a smaller mated pair are frequently seen out and about in the desert where they are part of a cage free sanctuary.

And finally because no post about Red would be complete without mention of my beloved Zion, this huge beauty from Kolob Canyons (aka the backside of Zion) this beloved and (so far as I can tell) un-named behemoth is viewed here from Taylor Creek Trail.

 

Til next time ~Stay wild moon child ~JP