Winter Wanderings…..

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.” ~ Anne Bradstreet

On the day before the first day of spring, I thought I’d post just a few photos of winter in my woods.   I always feel peaceful when walking in the woods.

After a heavy snowfall, that turned the world into a fairyland……
*click on image to enlarge*

The winter woods.

The winter woods.

The spruces stand tall..

The spruces stand tall..

Winter leaf...

Winter leaf…  A fall leaf shows strength and perseverance as it clings to a branch through the long winter months.  I made this photo into B&W, then brought the leaf color back.



Foggy winter morning...

Foggy winter morning…  Sometimes fog greets us on winter mornings.  I’m always trying to capture fog!

Thanks for viewing my post!  Happy Spring!


Sunday Post: Surroundings~ “The Woods”

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” ~George Byron

My surroundings~the pathless woods.
Never more beautiful than in fall…



Click images for a larger view.

Thanks for visiting my surroundings!
If you’d like to join Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post, click here to go to his site and read all about it.  There’s a great challenge every week for photographers, writers and more!


All text and images are copyright © 2002-2012 and are the exclusive property of Judy Johnson (unless otherwise indicated). All Rights Reserved. All Images are protected under United States and International copyright laws. None of the images on this site are in the Public Domain.

Gelato, Autostrada, Pasta, Michelangelo, Wine, Bruschetta. Where was I?

If you guessed Italy, you’re right!   We traveled there for two weeks and had a fabulous time.  We had beautiful weather in the 70s-80s F.  The only time it rained was on travel days!

“Traveling is the ruin of all happiness!  There’s no looking at a building after seeing Italy.”
~Fanny Burney

Our first stop was Florence, with a great hotel on the Arno River.  I spent a lot of time taking photos from the room’s window!  After four days in Florence our plan was to travel through Tuscany and finish in Rome.  Our stops included:  San Gimignano, Siena, Assisi and Rome.  San Gimignano was just a half-day trip on the way to Siena.  My husband offered to drive through Tuscany and drop the car at the Rome airport.   Our plan was to avoid driving in any major cities!  Barring a few wrong turns, we succeeded!

Since we got home very late Monday night…I’m just now starting to edit photos.
I’ll post as soon as I can, beginning with Florence!  Here’s one to start~

The photo was taken in front of our hotel, looking west down the Arno River.  You’ll see the Ponte Alle Grazie bridge.  This was the second bridge built over the Arno, the first being the famous Ponte Vecchio.  Ponte Alle Grazie bridge was first built in 1237 and over the years had a home for nuns; then shops and homes, as the Ponte Vecchio does now.  A fierce flood destroyed the bridge and it was rebuilt.  During WWll it was destroyed by bombs.  It was rebuilt in 1957 and remains unchanged.

Looking west along the Arno River. The Ponte Alle Grazie bridge can be seen in the photo.


Don’t change this channel!  Stay tuned for more updates from Italy!
Thanks for hanging in there while I was away….I appreciate my blogger friends!



Weekly Image of Life: Seasons and Changes~ Red Leaves?

“The one red leaf, the last of its clan, 
That dances as often as dance it can,  
Hanging so light, and hanging so high, 
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.”
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772-1834

Our Japanese Maple tree is green for most seasons in bloom~ from spring through summer.  In fall the leaves usually turn a bright, beautiful shade of red.
It truly lights up the garden with its seasonal change.

The Japanese Maple contrasts nicely with the strap-like green and white leaves of the Yucca below it.

Last year’s Japanese Maple in fall…

Last year…

But this year there were changes, even before we got to September.
Our normally green Japanese Maple leaves began turning a bronze-green color in July.
They’ve remained that color for the rest of the summer.  I believe it has to to with our extremely hot, dry weather this summer.  All of our plants have suffered in some way or another, even with watering.

Just this week I began to see a tinge of red around the leaf edges.
Perhaps we’ll get some red after all!  Changes!

This year…

“Change in all things is sweet.” ~Aristotle

The Weekly Image of Life post: Seasons & Changes, is brought to you by Island Traveler’s blog: “This Man’s Journey”.  Check out his post on Seasons & Changes, here, and join the rest of us…by sharing photos or stories of Seasons and Changes.  Each Wednesday, Island Traveler will post a new challenge.  Come join the fun!



All text and images are copyright © 2002-2012 and are the exclusive property of Judy Johnson (unless otherwise indicated). All Rights Reserved. All Images are protected under United States and International copyright laws. None of the images on this site are in the Public Domain.


Whimsical Architectural Reflections

Architecture is the very mirror of life.You only have to cast your eyes on buildings to feel the presence of the past, the spirit of a place; they are the reflection of society”.  ~I. M. Pei  Les Grands desseins du Louvre (with E J Biasini)

I love architecture from all periods and cultures in the history of the world.  I’m also fond of reflections, whether it’s in a mirror, window, water, or a glass building.  I have a series of tall buildings from a recent trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.  These structures show reflections of buildings adjacent to them.  You will note many different styles of architecture, but the reflections are whimsical.

The glass in which they are reflected throws off their balance and perfect structure; their straight steel beams and their arched windows now appear to be broken, twisted, wavy or curvy.

Come enjoy my Whimsical Architectural Reflections, and be glad that they are only reflections.

This building (above) was the hotel we stayed in.

This one looks like a topsy-turvy sand castle to me!

Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan, following Detroit in population and size.  It’s a great city to visit. Click here to find out more about Grand Rapids.


Weekly Photo Challenge & Sunday Water Dragon Post~”Misty Morning”

Two posts with one image!  The theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge is “Near and Far”.   Jake’s Water Dragon Sunday Post theme is: “Morning”.  Today I decided to combine them.

This photo made me think of what mist on the moor might look like in Scotland or Ireland.

“I don’t ask for the meaning of the song of a bird or the rising of the sun on a misty morning. There they are, and they are beautiful.” ~Pete Hamill

“Misty Morning”   *click for larger image*

“A misty morning does not signify a cloudy day.”~Proverb

This photo was taken from our hotel in Mackinaw City, looking across a bay and into the Straits of Mackinac.  Mackinac Island is to the left of the photo and a 20 minute ride by ferry.
Mackinaw City is located at the south end of the Mackinac Bridge, at the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.  (see my post from last week).    Despite the different spellings, both names (Mackinaw & Mackinac) are pronounced the same: “mack-in-aw”.

Compared to the slow pace of Mackinac Island, Mackinaw City is busy!  Souvenir shops, restaurants, tee shirt shops, motels and pasty shops abound.  Click here to find out about our yummy Michigan pastys…and the history behind them!   Click here to find out more about Mackinaw City.

Thanks for bearing with me on the double theme!


Walking the Mighty Mackinac Bridge

“Knowledge of other people’s beliefs and ways of thinking must be used to
build bridges, not create conflict.” ~Kjell Magne Bondevik

The Mackinac Bridge, which connects Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula, was built in November, 1957.  The entire length of the bridge is 5 miles.  The bridge is a suspension type of bridge, and while certainly not a “Galloping Gertie”, it does have some movement.  When walking, this movement can be felt in the center section, between the two towers.   At first it’s an odd feeling, but you get used to it.  It’s rather fun trying to walk a straight line in that section!  This year there were 45,000 people who walked the bridge during the Annual Labor Day Bridge Walk.  They keep the two south-bound lanes open for N/S traffic and the walkers get the northbound lanes for walking…from 7 am-2 pm.

This is the third year in a row we’ve walked the bridge and the weather was gorgeous.  We saw a beautiful sunrise from the bridge and the temperatures were 60-70 degrees F.   We finished at 8:30 am, had breakfast in Mackinaw City on the mainland (lower peninsula), and headed by ferry to Mackinac Island.

Visiting Mackinac Island is like going back to the turn of the century.  No cars are allowed, only foot traffic, horses, horse-drawn carriages & sleighs (in winter), and bicycles.  The pace is delightfully slower here.  A few hundred people live on the island. The governor has a residence, and there are many B&B’s.  The most famous of the hotels is the Grand Hotel.  It is a massive building and very grand, as its name implies.  It sits prominently on a hill overlooking the Straits of Mackinac.  A long porch catches the breeze and one of the rockers is a perfect place for a nap!  We love to go to the very top, to the Cupola, where wide windows on three sides offer views of the bridge, Round Island, ferries, and the Straits. If you’re lucky, you can see a huge barge pass by.  If you’d like to see the Grand Hotel, check out the movie: “Somewhere in Time”.  It was filmed on the island.

Mackinac Bridge taken from Mackinac Island

Capturing a slice of water between two buildings in town. Note the bikes!

This is Main St. on Mackinac Island.  If you look closely you can see all types of traffic~  Horse-drawn, bicycles, and foot traffic.  Try clicking on this image to see if it will enlarge.

This carriage will take you to and from the Grand Hotel. It’s on Huron St. with private residences in view.

This flower bed is below the hotel in the garden, fountain, pool and labyrinth area.

Enjoying a lemonade and the views from the Cupola.

Looking at the Grand Hotel’s Cupola….the curved windows at the very top. The perfect place to relax! ~~Besides the lovely porch!

The next day I awoke to find this sunrise over the Straits of Mackinac. A pretty way to end a nice weekend!

If you’d like more information on the Mackinac Bridge, check out this site:
Mackinac Bridge Authority.

Thanks for visiting and viewing!  Come back! 😉


Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.  To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” ~Helen Keller

~Blackbird near the top of the tree….Free Spirit soaring through the sky~

The blackbird is a Free Spirit, near the top of the tree, soaring in the warm yellow-orange rays of the setting sun.  Summit Inn, Uniontown, Pennsylvania, USA.


All text and images are copyright © 2002-2012 and are the exclusive property of Judy Johnson (unless otherwise indicated). All Rights Reserved. All Images are protected under United States and International copyright laws. None of the images on this site are in the Public Domain.

Gardening for the Soul

My daughter, Kara, has a lovely garden.  It’s just steps from her door, and it brings abundant color to her living room.  She’s a great gardener, tending her plants with the care of a “flower mother”!  Her garden is a riot of color: blue, red, yellow, purple, orange, white,
and pink.

Gardeners know how good it feels to dig in the dirt and watch their plants grow.
It surely feeds our inner being, our soul.  It’s a connection to the earth and life.

This year Kara’s garden is extraordinary because she dedicated it to the memory of our close friend, who passed away in May.  She told me she wanted to have a beautiful garden because our friend was such a beautiful person inside and out, and always doing things for others.  I think our friend, who was a fantastic gardener herself, is watching over Kara’s garden and smiling. 😉

“Plants give us oxygen for the lungs and for the soul.”  ~Linda Solegato

Kara’s Garden~

~Zinnias, Salvia, Petunias~

~Impatiens, Salvia~

~pretty orange flower~

~pink daisy-like flower~

“When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it.  If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.”
~Author Unknown

~daisy-like flower bud, unfolding~

~purple daisy opening~

~Kara’s Garden….a burst of color from containers!~

Kara’s Garden is not situated on a large piece of land.  She and her husband have a condo and the garden is on the deck!  The deck has benches, so flower boxes fill the benches, railings and the floor below the benches.  She even has a corner with an Herb Garden.  Two “upside down” bagged tomato plants hang from the upper deck, loaded with large green tomatoes!  Those tomato plants are about 6′ tall!
An entire garden in containers!

Do you like to garden?  Do you use containers?

Thanks for visiting.  Please excuse the construction on my new theme!  I’m still playing with the features! 😉


All text and images are copyright © 2002-2012 and are the exclusive property of Judy Johnson (unless otherwise indicated). All Rights Reserved. All Images are protected under United States and International copyright laws. None of the images on this site are in the Public Domain.


Is it the Journey or the Destination?

Which one creates the most anticipation, excitement or pleasure for you?  Which is more important?  Is it the journey or the destination?

I have to admit, when planning a trip, I often tend to focus on the destination.
But many times I’ve been surprised and pleased, with the beauty and inspiration of the  journey.

All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination. ~Earl Nightingale
The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same.  Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination. ~Don Williams, Jr.

Today I share with you a gallery of photos from one of the most beautiful journeys I’ve ever experienced.
 This journey began at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and took us close to Zion National Park.
For a good portion of the time, we were on Route 89 in Arizona and Utah.
This journey could definitely be a destination!

I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within. ~ Lillian Smith

Thanks for traveling with me on this amazing journey!


All text and images are copyright © 2002-2012 and are the exclusive property of Judy Johnson (unless otherwise indicated). All Rights Reserved. All Images are protected under United States and International copyright laws. None of the images on this site are in the Public Domain.