Ducks and Cranes and Goslings … Oh My – a Sunday Stills Adventure

For Terri’s Sunday Stills let’s have a little feathery fun. My Grandmother called me her Little Feather when I was small, because I danced like a feather in the wind, everywhere I went so I’ve always rather had a thing for feathered friends. My apologies for any repeats, I am sans computer currently, my laptop bit the dust and we’re have trouble with the new replacement. So I’m working off of my cellphone. Yikes 😳

Mallards

A sord of mallards make themselves right at home. We have a pair that are too old to fly and stay year round. These are younger, seasonal residents. At last count they numbered 23 drake’s. Yep the young whippersnappers are all boys. Figures πŸ˜‰

Great blue heron at my lake

It was cloudy for this shot, and I don’t seem to have much in the way of photo editing available at the moment, but this Great Blue Heron is a frequent visitor here and he was standing so majestically. Like he was saying “is this my best side”

Our new goslings

Spring is all about life and renewal. We have a single breeding pair of Canadian geese who summer here at our tiny lake. For the past couple of years they have nested here and this year was no exception. I watched intently as they built their floating nest, then about a week ago, both parents started flapping and fussing at the nest site and shortly 7 little puffballs emerged. We watched as they took their first swim and the next day they had found their way to our tree, out of the sun. Sigh … I love little baby things.

A young Robin hopped by to say hello. I referred to them as South Dakota Roadrunners because we so seldom saw them fly. Mostly they just zip along on the grass, pausing to search for a juicy worm.

A bird sculpture at the Rapid City airport. Fitting isn’t it?

Also linking up today to John bo’s cellpicsunday since all of these were taken with my cellphone as I don’t have access to my archives. And Marsha’s #PPAC for the lovely airport sculpture.

Til next time — be kind to each other — JP

On a Spring morning

Staring out the window, watching the waning flower moon play peek-a-boo behind a marbled sky. A crane slowly drifts across the lake, the subtle grace of his flight belies the power in his wings.

Above a great blue heron who is a frequent visitor here at Castle Serenity. Til next time, be kind to each other –JP

Sunday Stills – some aquatic teal adventures

For Terri’s Sunday Stills where our monthly color challenge isTeal or Aqua. Hmmm … water seems to be a natural, and perhaps skies, but let’s start with some aquatic adventures from around the world.

Broad Bay, New Zealand on the Otago Harbour coast of the Otago Penninsula. The morning haze casts reflections on sky and water tinting everything teal and leaving only the green hillsides to separate the two.

An Australian Coot swims lazily in the brilliant teal waters of Lake Wakatipu, near Queenstown, NZ.

Some aqua-colored umbrellas on a rainy day at the Otowa Waterfalls at Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto, Japan. The waters are said to have wish-granting powers and we were told that to drink from the “pure waters” for which the temple is named would ensure prosperity and long life. Obviously, we stood in line on this rainy day and partook with joy.

Aqua and teal colored sky and water combine into a beautiful seascape on a cloudy day in Kapaa, Island of Kauai, Hawaii. Why yes, I do have many, many (like hundreds) of shots of this particular piece of driftwood taken over the course of our seven trips. πŸ˜‰

Drawing closer to home we find the breathtaking teal waters of Crater Lake, Oregon. Some 7,700 years ago a violent volcanic eruption caused the collapse of Mount Mazama in what is now southern Oregon. The ensuing lake is fed by rain and snow and is the deepest lake in the USA. It is also the cleanest and purest as there are no inlets or outlets for water from the lake. Here we looked out from a forested trail, you can see “Phantom Ship Island” rising up out of the lake.

Even though it’s not aquatic in nature this bit of Public Art captured my attention for the PPAC 46. A teal painted buffalo statue in Custer, SD. These painted buffalos appear in many places in the Black Hills, as well as the live ones.

That’s it from Castle Serenity for now. Til next time, remember “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Wright

~Sending you good vibes ~JP

Sunday Stills – As Spring Emerges

For Terri’s Sunday Stills where our prompt is “Emerging”

If we were having coffee at Natalie’s weekend coffee share, I’d tell you that we’re spending May emerging from our winter hibernation mode into a much more active Spring mode. Lots of yard work to be done as I recover from a rather nasty autoimmune flare. πŸ˜‰ Then we’d spend some time reminiscing about Springs past and I’d share some photos and memories. Let’s take a walk around Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota and see what emerges.

Waiting for the Cliff Swallows to emerge from their nests. They build mud nests under eaves and cliff faces. Here a couple of nests under the eaves at the Wildlife Loop Visitor Center in Custer State Park, Custer South Dakota.

Two humans emerging from a wooded trail are treated to a new perspective of fire damage. In December 2017, 50 mph wind gusts knocked over a telephone pole which sparked and started the Legion Lake Fire. Before it could be contained the fire burned over 54,000 acres of our beloved Custer State Park and sparked several minor fires in the area. This overlook above the once lush valley brought tears to the eye. But the forest will recover, as forests always do bringing more life and restoring balance.

An outstanding reminder that life will always find a way, tiny wild violets emerge from a crack in a huge boulder on Sylvan Lake, Custer, South Dakota.

As we prepare to depart Custer, a wee bitty bunny emerges from the cover of the shrubbery near the parking lot, another reminder that Spring is the season of birth and renewal.

Returning home, I came across this Allium just emerging from it’s bud ready to burst forth in welcome with it’s spectacular purple bloom.

Of course, we couldn’t really emerge from winter into spring without one of these spectacular South Dakota sunrises, taken at Hart Ranch, Rapid City, SD.

That’s it from Castle Serenity this week, til next time

~May the wind be always at your back ~JP

Spring Flowers – Everywhere

For Terri’s Sunday Stills – Fabulous Florals. Spring is in the air, and everywhere she is breaking out the sparkle.

Little Johnny Jump-ups (Violas) brighten any day.

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.”
~Rainier Maria Rilke

Tiny Lantana begin to burst forth.

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly,
the whole world would change.”
~Buddha

“Feed me Seymour” ~ Audrey – Little Shop of Horrors

Spooky pitcher plants lurking in the shadows, waiting for … lunch.

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope” ~ Lady Bird Johnson

Many varieties of Rhododendron thrill the eye and delight the spirit.

“It’s always spring and everyone’s in love and flowers pick themselves.” ~E.E. Cummings

Wild Hibiscus, a marvelous nature walk find.

Flowers floating to the ground
petals falling, make no sound
pink snow flying fills the air
petals falling everywhere
flowers in my hair
the scent of spring
fills the air. ~JP

If we were having coffee this week, I’d tell you April has been a mixed bag of a month. It started with a mad dash to South Dakota that was more exhausting than exciting. Then to a nasty virus (not COVID) that led to a Sarcie Flare, which led to a 14-day round of steroid therapy, which led to visits with my pulmo and cardio doctors, and is now ending with me wearing a heart monitor (don’t worry, it’s nothing serious). So maybe it hasn’t been quite the fun month I was hoping for but I got lots of yard work done and the front and back areas are beginning to come together. Come Spring and Welcome.

Til next time ~ Stay Trippy Hippies ~JP

Sunday Stills and PPAC – Diamond and Quartz

Terri’s wonderful Sunday Stills prompt for this week is “quarts, diamonds.” I admit, I had a bit of a time coming up with something. I’m just NOT a diamonds kind of girl and ironically although I’m a rock hound, clear quartz does not exactly abound in my collections.

I’m cutting it fine on this deadline, but I really, really worked on the quartz/diamond theme. I’ve been sick since returning from the mad dash to South Dakota. I’ve rebounded somewhat from the virus, but am still on steroids and nebulizers for the breathing part of it. But hey, I’m out of bed and awake. I even went outside for a bit today. πŸ™‚ I’m also including some public art works so I’m gonna link up to Marsha’s PPAC. First the art

Opaque quartz happy cats greet us in Taipei, Taiwan in the underground mall near the train station. They’re actually carved of marble but the milky color lends them a quartz feel to me.

Because I always ask myself the question “what constitutes public art?” I fell in love this the side of this building in Christ Church, NZ. Architecture can also be art and I adore the diamond shaped window vent coverings.

This tiny fairy house lies in a stone retaining wall of someone’s home in Queenstown, NZ and to me, that is the epitome of public art, the artistic bits of our selves we sneak into public life for the attentive passerby to enjoy. Love those diamond windows.

Now, the not precisely art but still really cool quartzy diamondy shots:

Milky quartz Koi greedily feeding on tourist tidbits in Kyoto Japan. They will come completely out of the water for a pellet of fish food from the local vendor.

A tiny quartz-colored sand crab on a beach of tiny sparkling stones in Kapaa, Hawaii. He is about the size of my thumbnail.

The sun beat down casting a million diamond glints on the snow and the tiny diamond ripples of the Yampa River near Steamboat Springs, CO.

The diamond peak of Chimney Rock towers 480 feet above the North Platte River Valley. This massive natural monument guided the followers of the Oregon Trail during the westward expansion of the 19th century.

“Stars shine like diamonds on the black-velvet throat of the night sky.”

Finally, from my collection, a couple of beautiful crystalline quartz points on black velvet. I’m off to make a cup of mullein tea.

Til next time ~Sparkle darling, sparkle ~JP

Monday Musings – Spoon deficit and women in art

It’s been a week dear friends and my bones are feeling every hour of it. Most of it was spent traveling. Now I’d like to tell you that it was a fun little spring break trip, I’d really, really like to tell you that. Buttttt… it was a “quick” trip to take care of final business transferring our remaining South Dakota property.

We spent six of seven days traversing 2700 miles of misery known as “Interstate across the Great Plains States”. We battled scenic boredom, road fatigue, rain, sleet, snow, and 70 mph wind gusts. I ran out of spoons on day 2 and have been running on spoon deficit ever since.

Make no mistake, spoon deficit is real, and it’s ugly, sleep is no cure and the effects can stretch on for weeks or months. For me, it involves flu-like symptoms including muscle aches, joint pain, fever, chills, and a wracking cough that puts childhood croup to shame. Ahhh well, eventually my immune system will stop it’s current tantrum. In the meantime, I’ve put together a few bits of Public Art for Marsha’s PPAC. I loved Marsha’s review last week of “Women in Public Art” and thought I’d follow suit. So here are a few shots I’ve collected of women in public art.

Advantages of Being a Woman Artist – Guerilla Girls Poster Art 1988

Here a crappy shot of a piece of paper art from the Te Papa museum in Wellington, NZ. The poor focus is a result of incredibly brilliant lighting, smudgy glass overlay and a seriously old cell phone camera. My apologies but it still makes the point. I think my favorite is the first reason “working without the pressure of success.” πŸ˜‰

Lady Octopus Queens Garden Invercargill, NZ

Here “Lady Octopus” in Invercargill, NZ an interesting interpretation of feminine form. I have always found it fascinating that less than 11% of art in US museums comes from female artists, yet over 85% of human “nudes” art are female in form. Not sure if that’s a compliment to the divine feminine or just gender bias. Ah well, a topic for another post.

Lady of the Woods, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon US

Here’s another interpretation of feminine form in the “Lady of the Woods” sculpture at Crater Lake, Oregon, US. Carved by Dr. Earl Russell Bush in October 1918. It took Dr. Bush just 11 days to create his homage to the beauty of the forest around him out of the huge volcanic boulder using tools he convinced a Corps of Engineers blacksmith to make for him. “This statue represents my offering to the forest, my interpretation of its awful stillness and repose, its beauty, fascination, and unseen life. A deep love of this virgin wilderness has fastened itself upon me and remains today. It seemed that I must leave something behind …. if it arouses thought in those who see it, I shall be amply repaid.”

Dignity – Chamberlain SD US
Wouldst that “Dignity” were that easy to find. πŸ˜‰

And finally, “Dignity” a 50-foot tall stainless steel sculpture by Dale Claude Lamphere depicts an Indigenous woman in plains-style dress receiving a star quilt. According to Lamphere, β€œDignity represents the courage, perseverance and wisdom of the Lakota and Dakota culture in South Dakota. My hope is that the sculpture might serve as a symbol of respect and promise for the future.”

Many thanks to Marsha for the challenge and her inspiration that got me off my spoonie butt today. And, even though it’s not Sunday, I’m gonna link up to Johnbo’s Cellpic Sunday since “Dignity” and “Women Artists” were both shot with various cell phones. πŸ˜‰

Til next time ~Stay rooted in the ground but keep reaching for the stars ~JP

Urban Beauty – a Sunday Stills Perspective

For Terri’s Sunday Stills Challenge where our prompt this week is “urban.” OK, wow, this is interesting. I’m kind of the anti-urbanite. I don’t really like cities and as much as I do love theater, symphony and ballet, I abhor traffic, light pollution, asphalt and crowds. I don’t even like going into “town” to Lexington, Kentucky. A small city of approximately 320,000. Still, I have visited many, many urban areas in several countries. One thing I have found the world over is that beauty is there, you just have to look for it.

Penny alley Mt. Home ID

Here Penny Alley in Mountain Home, ID. The alley walls run for about three blocks and are covered by various forms of art from this hand print exhibition to:

Penny alley Mt. Home ID

this more intricate reminder that adventure is out there, and so is beauty.

Kyoto Japan

Here in Kyoto Japan, a mural discreetly conceals a pedestrian walk way between stores.

Osaka Japan

In Osaka Japan, I simply looked down to find these beautifully cast decorative manhole covers.

Tianmu Taiwan

Here in Tianmu Taiwan the Little Free Library makes for an adorable and friendly bit of urban art.

Christchurch, NZ

Here a fabulous bit of storefront art in Christ Church, NZ. I couldn’t quite get a shot of the home next door but if you look behind the gate to the left of the screen, you’ll see some fanciful graffiti art.

Wellington NZ

And finally, I’m going to close with a small excerpt from one of the few cities in the world that I have ever truly enjoyed every minute of my stay in. Wellington, NZ. The blend of old and modern architecture, the ethnic diversity, the art, the ocean, the public transportation, the people, combined to put it on the very short list of “cities” I would consider living in.

Also linking up to Marsha’s PPAC Public Art Challenge

Hope you enjoyed this mini world tour of urban art, that’s all from Castle Serenity for this week.

Til next time ~ There is beauty everywhere for those who are willing to look for it ~JP

The Pre Years – a Fandango Flashback Friday Challenge

For Fandango’s Flashback Friday Challenge – a tidbit about life back in 2018, pre-brain surgery, pre-pandemic, pre-hailstorm.

3/18/18 It’s All About Balance

When you’re a spoonie with a family of 2 with chronic and autoimmune diseases, kitchen work can be a considerable challenge. We follow two similar yet different diets at our house. I follow WFPB (Whole Food Plant Based) diet, Superhubs is primarily pescetarian. He eats fish, generally once a day, egg whites as an ingredient and occasionally chicken if we eat out. He’s extremely particular about the type and preparation of fish, hence the occasional chicken and eschews all forms of dairy. We eat LOTS of beans, tofu a couple times per week. Since we are in “travel mode” right now, we eat simple and rather more “packaged” food than we normally would. Today we’re not moving but still follow the same principles. A quick look at our menu for today.

Breakfast: Museli for SH, quick oats for me.

AM snack: SH – 1/2 banana, 1/2 sheet graham cracker, 1/4 cup nuts

Me – 1/2 banana, 1 rice cake

Lunch: Soup with toasted cheese sandwiches, veggie sticks, chips

PM snack: Both – homemade oil-free hummus, crackers, cuties

Dinner: Saag Aloo with chickpea curry

Dessert: Fruit plate, 1/2 spelt muffin w/almond butter (homemade pumpkin butter for me)

As you can see, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It equates in spoon usage to a part time job. I’ll also do some writing (fiction project) in addition to this and some housework. Trying to figure out how to fit in some exercise since it’s snowing and blowing and too cold outside for my lungs. If the roads clear enough, we may try some “walmart walking” after lunch.

It’s always a challenge, to balance everything, enough rest, enough exercise, nutrition and convenience. The scale moves both ways and every day is different. I tell my yoga learners that balance is not a static thing. Stand in any one leg pose and feel the tiny adjustments your muscles make, especially your feet. Life is like that, balance isn’t something you just find, it’s a thousand tiny adjustments every day that give us the feeling of solidity. Life is always in motion and you have to roll with it. Nowhere is this more true than in the life of a spoonie. A healthy recipe for Saag Aloo (spinach and potatoes) in the slow cooker and a pretty picture for you my friends. Namaste ~oep

Saag Aloo — Serves 2

Ingredients
2 medium to large potatoes, well scrubbed (or peeled if you prefer), any “eyes” or brown spots removed.
1 cup reconstituted broth (I used Better than Bouillon vegetable)
1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons dehydrated onion flakes (or 1/4 Cup chopped onion or 1/2 cup sliced onion if you have it).
1/2 teaspoon each of: cumin, ground corriander, hot chili powder (I use ancho), and graham masala
ground black pepper – a few good shakes

As much spinach slightly torn as you can fit into your slow cooker. Feel free to use a mix of greens, I threw in some collard greens that I needed to use up and a few handfuls of baby spinach. You can add more spinach as it cooks down.

Directions

Cut the potatoes into 1 inch or smaller pieces. I, personally do not peel my potatoes, I use organic and the peel is full of nutrients. The smaller the pieces, the quicker it will cook.
Add the broth
Add the spices and onion and stir in.
top with greens, firmer greens on the bottom, spinach on top
Cook on high for 3-5 hours depending on your slow cooker and the size of your potato dice
Add spinach as desired.

There you have it, quick, easy, yummy and slow cooker friendly, especially important on a low spoons day.

My view this morning

street lights cast a blue glow on the snowy branches in Richfield, UT

Til next time ~Duuuuude that’s COLD! ~JP

Through the Gates – a Crimson Creative Challenge

For Crimson’s Creative Challenge

Inside the Torri Gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine Kyoto Japan

Through the Gates

Pass through the arches
and find the light
walk through the Toriis
and then to the right
to the garden’s path
so warm and bright
where we’ll sit and talk
and in the day delight

Til next time ~Where there is kindness, there is magic ~JP