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

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

Sunday Stills – Counting the Moments

For Terri’s Sunday Stills Where we’re working “by the numbers.” Also linking up with Johnbo’s Cellpic Sunday (yep every one was taken with my cell phone), and Marsha’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday; H.G. Wells quote which totally works for vacations, some of the time travel destinations.

Interesting prompt, particularly for a former bean counter. You’d think, counter that I am I’d have lots of number related pics but nooooo. Although a good portion of my life was spent in the “thrill of totting up a balanced book, a thousand ciphers neatly in a row” (A British Bank ~Mary Poppins 1964).

does anybody else miss 13-column pads? ;-p

Sometimes, numbers do kind of tell a story though so let’s see what we come up with.

pitch by numbers trainer

Above is a junior throw trainer we worked on in Kunshan, China. The background is made up of “hook” fabric (as in hook and loop, grabby side) and when tennis balls are thrown at it they stick so a young baseball player can see where his throw is ending up. Helps develop aim and muscle memory. It was a fun project although I will say that I learned more about the hook side of “velcro” fabric than I ever wanted to know, including that it can break skin ouch.

Bus schedule – Taipei Taiwan

Thankfully numbers are a constant when traveling in Asia. Here at the station in Taipei, Taiwan it was actually pretty easy to find our way around as we were taking the 208 bus back to the hotel. I wish I had a taken a picture of Superhubs with a map showing our driver how to get to the factory we were touring. 😉

Virgin River Springdale Uah

Now this one doesn’t have any numbers, but oh my it tells a numbery story. Thousands of rock cairns gathered alongside the Virgin River at Zion National Park. It tells the story of the “hundred year flood” that hit the park in 2014, altering the path of the river in several places. They also remind me of man’s inherent need to leave his mark upon the world, to create some artistic tribute, proof that “we were here.”

Big Clock marking the moments

At this stage of my life, most numbers are markers of time. Above a large clock at the Wellington Museum, Wellington, NZ.

It’s Time

“It’s Time” they say
the seconds tick by
in a runic sort of rhyme
each filled with a kind
of mysterious portent
of times that once were
moments that are
and some things
that have not yet been ~JP

Time Machine in Wellington, NZ

The display at the Time Machine immersive show at Wellington Museum in Wellington, NZ. The 14 minute show covers Wellington’s story from the Big Bang through the future. The experience blurs the lines between real and cinematic in a thoroughly delightful way.

“We all have our time machines, don’t we. Those that take us back are memories… And those that carry us forward, are dreams.” ~H.G. Wells

Some numbers alter the course of reality

For me at least it all boils down to this: “Time is not measured by clocks, but by moments.” ~Unknown

Here are numbers that will always remain in my memory. 391372 is Superhubs, 1518 was the time his (first) surgery was complete. Happy, joyful numbers that remind me that tomorrow is never guaranteed and every day is a gift.

That’s it from Castle Serenity ~Til next time in the words of Casey Kasem “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” ~JP

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 😳


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 😉

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

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. 😉

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. 😉 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.”

“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. 🙂 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

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

Sunday Stills and Monday Musings

For Terri’s Sunday Stills Challenge (a bit late)

It’s been a crazy weekend (hence my tardiness) of gardening. Almost have the backyard finished. Ah but JP you say, you live in a townhouse, don’t they take care of the landscape maintenance? Sort of, we have three feet in each direction of our townhomes that are ours to plant as we please (as long as it’s attractive). We moved in in November so I knew there would be work to be done this spring and I was NOT wrong. OK, enough about me, on to photos.

Most of these are from my archives that I thought “black and whited” up pretty well. To quote the song Black and White, “The ink is black, the page is white, together we learn, to read and write.” Black and White was originally written in 1954 by David I. Arkin and Earl Robinson, but topped the charts some 18 years later in 1972 with Three Dog Night’s pop version.

Sunrise on Kauai in black and white

Let’s start off in the land of vibrant color, Hawaii. Here a stunning sunrise on Kauai leached of color. The curls of waves and sea foam give the shot some depth.

Mokolii, Hawaii

Mokolii tiny island of Oahu also known as Chinaman’s Hat for it’s distinctive shape. I like the “old timey” quality the black and white here. Taken from Kualoa Ranch.

Plumeria in Kapaa

This is one shot I didn’t really like as well in black and white. The plumeria is such a beautiful, vibrant flower and although I do quite like the shading caused by the nearly translucent white of the flower, it leaves me kind of eh. Shot from our balcony in Kapaa. Linking this one up for Cee’s FOTD.

Traditional pavilion in Lulin Lake, Mt. Lushan, China

Now on over to Jiujiang, China. Thanks to the foggy day, the above photo didn’t have a great deal of color to begin with, but I think the starkness afforded by the black and white graphic enhances it a bit more. It was windy and I love the tiny ripple effect on the water.

Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Back in the US, here a set of ruins known as Spruce Tree House built by the Anasazi some 800 years ago. The settlement was abandoned about 1300, there is much speculation as to why. Nevertheless, the ancient ones left behind a marvelous legacy of wonder. The ruins were discovered in the 1880’s and plundered until Mesa Verde became a national park in 1906. Once again, I like the stark graphic black and white gives this shot.

Bad Water Basin, Death Valley National Park California

And last, but not least, a shot that’s not black and white but might as well be. I left this photo as is to show the sliver of blue sky that draws just that much more attention to the desolation of the place. Bad Water Basin Salt Flats lies 282 feet below sea level and encompasses 200 square miles.

Black is the absence of color,
combination of all makes white
life is lived somewhere in between
filled with color and light ~JP

My father was color-blind, I used to fetch resistors him which were color-coded, ahhhh but I digress once again, a tale for another time.

a hui hou kakou (until we meet again) ~JP