Category Archives: Michigan Beauty and Fun

Ode to Icicles

icicles-and-snow-fallingOde to Iciclesicicles-seen-from-insideBars on my castle
Iced drops of rain
Jack Frost was crying
Out my window pane.  rings-and-ridges-in-iciclesSnowflakes dissolving
Wept frozen tears
Ringed like a tree trunk
In hours, not years.  icicles-in-the-sunshineTransparent carrots
Grown in the wind
Sunshine to water
But no one to tend. icicles-like-stalactitesCrystal stalactites
Not from a cave
Born in the open
Where birds must be brave. sparrows-sitting-on-rail-in-winter

icicles-growing-in-a-rowSwords of Damocles
Hung from the sky
Begging the question
Is something awry?
icicles-formingFair jewels from snow
Sharp as a knife
More precious than bread
The Water of Life.
long-icicles-12-15-16The longer they hang
The longer they grow
The longer I know
My life must need snow.
(—Kathryn W. Armstrong, December 15, 2016)row-of-icicles-hanging-off-roof “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?” (Job 38:22).icicles-snow-and-sunshine

Birthday Reflections à la Rogue River to Help You Keep your Chin Up

feather-floating-on-water-of-rogue-riverThese last quotes are more like strengthening medicine for Roo than honey for Pooh, but I still think they’re good food for thought!

bridge-across-rogue-riverl-in-rockford“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” ~James Joyce

fisherman-on-rogue-river“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” ~M. Scott Peck

billows-of-bright-helianthus-salicifolius-willow-leaved-sunflower-along-the-rogue-river“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it
the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” -Napoleon Hill   maple-leaf-on-water“Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscles,
they toughen and make strong.” ~Norman Vincent Peale   3-canoers-fall-leaves-beginning-to-turn“Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him,
and to let him know that you trust him.” ~Booker T. Washington   punting-on-the-rogue-river“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing
to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” ~William Jennings Bryan   sunshine-and-starry-water“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” ~Conrad Hilton  turtle-on-a-rock-in-rogue-river “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent,
but the one most responsive to change.” ~Charles Darwin  boy-canoeing-on-rogue-river “You will never be the person you can be if pressure, tension and discipline
are taken out of your life.” ~ James G. Bilkey  end-of-canoe-trip-on-rogue-river “Aim for service and success will follow.” ~Albert Schweitzer   a-blessed-day-canoeing-on-the-rogue-river“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end.
It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing;
it’s when you had everything to do, and you’ve done it.” ~Margaret Thatcher   little-boy-playing-in-sunshine-along-river-bank“COURAGE doesn’t always roar. Sometimes COURAGE is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” ~Mary Anne Radmacher   leaf-crowned-warriorFor a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Proverbs 24:16).

 

 

Reflections on Personal Growth à la Rogue River

Today I want to share some peaceable reflections about who we are as people…what makes us good, happy, and a blessing:

overhanging-trees-along-the-rogue-river“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life
which are the real ones after all.”~Laura Ingalls Wilder  turtle-sunning-himself-on-rock-in-rogue-river “There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now.” ~Buddha alan-in-canoe“Who, being loved, is poor?” ~Oscar Wilde  canoeing-under-a-canopy-of-green-along-the-rogue-river“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments,
but what is woven into the lives of others.” ~Pericles leaf-drifting-on-water “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
~Henry David Thoreau  reid-splashing-in-rogue-river “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.”
~Mother Teresa  happy-young-canoeist “A smile is the shortest distance between two people.” ~Victor Borge

canoeing-on-rogue-river-bridge “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

above-reflected-below-on-rogue-river “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do
are in harmony.”~ Mahatma Gandhi  sunshine-on-grandson-on-rogue-river“Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help,
whose hope is in the Lord his God”
(Psalm 146:5).

 

 

Humorous and Provocative Reflections à la Rogue River

launching-canoes-on-the-rogue-riverTime for another break! My oldest son, Aaron, was born on my 25th birthday, ducks-on-rogue-riverand we’ve had the joy of celebrating most of our birthdays together ever since.swans-geese-and-ducks-on-rogue-riverbankThis year was no exception, although it was exceptional canoeing-on-rogue-riverthat we could share the pleasure with Aaron’s entire familyshady-green-bows-over-rogue-river as well as Alan and Joel during a leisurely canoe ride down the Rogue River. old-snag-in-rogue-riverThis entire week, I want to share some photos from that serene afternoon canada-goose-island-on-rogue-riveralong with three series of favorite quotations on various subjects great-blue-heron-fishing-on-rogue-riverthat I’ve been saving up.bubbly-water-along-the-rogue-riverToday’s quotes are ones I kept because they made me smile:green-glow-of-indian-summer-on-the-rogue-river“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems,
but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”~Herm Albright
canada-geese-in-flight-on-rogue-river“People with a negative attitude brighten the whole room when they leave.” ~Anonymous leaf-and-sun-on-rogue-river “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
~Robin Williams sunshine-streaming-down-on-canoeists-on-rogue-river “I’m far from perfect, but I’ll be perfect for that imperfect person that’s perfect for me.”  ~Amanda Bynes  turtle-on-a-log-in-rogue-river“People often say to me that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing … that’s why we recommend it daily.”~Zig Ziglar quiet-paddling-along-the-rogue-river “Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.”
~Ray Kroc  reflections-of-birches-along-rogue-river“There is no magic in magic, it’s all in the details.”~ Walt Disney  trees-overhanging-rogue-river“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living.
The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” ~Mark Twain
canada-geese-along-rogue-river“To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.” ~Theodore Roosevelt…I can only wish that were still true today, but it’s not. 😦trees-reflecting-in-rogue-river“One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie
is that the cat only has nine lives.”~Mark Twain   study-in-sun-and-shadow-on-rogue-river“Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he’ll believe you.
Tell him a bench has wet paint on it, and he’ll have to touch it to be sure. Murphy’s Law” ~(read in Walk the Talk…but not always true, thankfully!)cormorant-on-rogue-river “Need a new life? God accepts trade ins !!”
(~shared by a friend, Pam Hembroff)

  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (~2 Corinthians 5:17)

 

 

 

 

 

The Wild Bergamot and The Bees: a Lesson in Unintentional Consequences

bergamot-and-black-eyed-susans-charylene-powersEven though many of the wildflowers have gone to seed in August, the wild bergamot plants are thriving. As I walk the trails at the John Luton Prairie Restoration Park, I immediately notice a great number of black and yellow bees. The buzzing bees traverse from flower to flower gathering the nectar they need to survive. My desire is to take advantage of the afternoon sun; photographing this beautiful prairie and all the inhabits that call it home.bergamot-by-charylene-powersThe Flower  – Wild Bergamot
The soft lavender flower heads of the wild bergamot plants look like a little fireworks display.  The unending historical medical uses for this plant include; poultices for boils and lacerations, as well as minty tea infusions for headaches, indigestion and colds.  The Ojibwe tribe placed these leaves in warm water baths for their babies. In addition to medical uses, the Indigo Buntings build their nests using the strong square wood stems. charylene-powers-birdThe Pollinators – Bees
It is estimated that a third of the food we eat is dependent on bee pollination.  Bees pollinate by carrying pollen on their bodies from the male part of the flower to the female part of the same kind of flower. The stiff hairs all over the bees’s bodies attract the pollen. The bees gather nectar from the flowers to eat. As the bees feed themselves, they provide a service that feeds all of us.bee-on-bergamot-charylene-powersObservations
Focusing on the task of gathering nectar, seems to be all consuming for the bees. When I move in to take my shot, the bees do not notice me, even though I am inches from them. I’m sure  my desire to get a close up of flower and bee will result in a stinging retort from the bees. However, they just keep doing what God has intended them to do. I need to be this focused with my assignments from God.

“So be careful to do what the Lord you God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left.” (Deuteronomy 5:32, NIV)

Thoughts to Ponder
I think of the work of the bees and what they actually accomplish. They gather nectar to sustain themselves and pollinate our food source for us.  The work of pollination is really an unintentional consequence on their part. God has a bigger plan in mind for the work He has given to the bees. A plan that the bees cannot even imagine nor will they ever know. What about my assignments from God?  Am I as focused as the bees? Does God have a bigger plan in mind for the assignments He has given to me?  A plan that I – like the bees – cannot even imagine nor will I ever know.

bergamot-field-charylene-powers“As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9, NIV)

(Guest author: Charylene Powers. Thank you, Charylene. This is just beautiful!)

ArtPrize 8: Just Where is the Rising of the Sun?

the-more-you-sweat-in-practice-the-less-you-bleed-in-battle-artprize-8-kathryn-w-armstrongArtPrize 8 is off and running! I’ve had several friends wander into the Holiday Inn without realizing that my mural is there, so let me give you the details in case you’re in GR and planning to go to ArtPrize, because I’d love to see you and I’d hate to miss you! My entry is titled “From the Rising of the Sun” and is being displayed at the Holiday Inn at 310 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.

gerald-r-ford-museumIt’s opposite the Gerald Ford Museum, van-andel-museum-center-jpgacross the street from the Van Andel (Grand Rapids Public Museum), devos-learning-centerand kitty corner from Ah-Nab-Awen Park.

grand-riverIt’s just across the river (0.2 miles) from the Amway Grand, so it’s at the cross roads to some of the best art in town. It’s also just 0.4 miles from Grand Rapids Art Museum, 0.5 miles from the B.O.B. (Grand Rapids’ “Big Old Building), and 0.6 miles from DeVos Place, so it’s super convenient for the most popular venues! arriving-at-the-holiday-inn     Whether you go in the front or back entrance,  you’ll see half the mural.artprize-8-front-lobby-mural-at-holiday-inn “January through June” is at the front entrance, and “June through December” is at the back entrance. Using 400 of my favorite  photographs from around the world, I’ve created a collage trying to tell the story of life on Planet Earth through the seasons of one year and one lifetime. artprize-mural-summer-to-winterHere’s my “Artist Statement: “The top row reminds us of the universal constants we all experience: the glorious sun and moon, rising and setting with comforting precision. Row two showcases another global experience, the beauty of flowers, which can be found everywhere around the globe. Row three highlights the experience of fauna through the seasons. Row four looks more closely at how the flora and individual homes are affected by seasonal changes, using photographs from our cozy “Tanglewood Cottage” here in Grand Rapids. Row five takes an intimate look into one person and one family (mine) through the seasons of one year and one lifetime, but my hope is that it resonates with the emotions and cultural experiences of everyone who views it: birth, growth, adulthood, marriage (or family life; I know some never marry), new life and enjoying grandchildren, growing older, and finally, in the December of life, walking into a sea of clouds on the mountain top, looking hopefully to a glorious future life after we leave Planet Earth.january-of-the-year-artprize-8The lower half of the mural is arranged in ten collages, each comprised of twenty photographs from around the world on a particular theme that compliments the season above.”   artprize-8-from-the-rising-of-the-sunThis is my hope and prayer for the mural: “From the rising of the sun on the day we take our first breath until we walk into life’s sunset, I hope the beauty of our world lifts our hearts to praise the One who created us and provided such a glorious home.” friends-stopping-by-to-see-from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-artprize-8I have a booklet with notes on each photograph for anybody who comes and would like to know more detail, although if I’m there when you come, I can answer questions! I’d really love to see you if you come, and if you leave me a message in the comment box or on Facebook (message works too), I’ll try to make sure I’m there when you come! I’ve been going about 10:00-5:00 Monday-Friday every day, but I’ll be less regular on weekends due to family responsibilities and fun, although I’ll still be there at times, so please don’t be shy! It’s a real highlight of my day when friends drop by!

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-artprize-8“From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same,
the Lord’s name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).

The Birthday Club Previews ArtPrize 8…Including my Entry

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-at-the-holiday-innYesterday our birthday club met to celebrate my birthday, knowing that once ArtPrize 8 begins tomorrow, I won’t have a minute to catch a breath until it’s all over. Besides, we wanted to celebrate my entry, which is at the Holiday Inn. singing-at-vans-pastriesBut, first the girls had a wonderful surprise for me! vans-pastriesWe stopped at Van’s Pastries, vans-pastry-shopwhere they have an old-fashioned hymn sing to begin the week
every Monday morning at 9:00! standing-in-the-doorway-of-vans-pastries-to-singWhat fun! It was so crowded that we had to stand in the doorway,
and more folks just kept coming.

hymn-sing-at-vans-pastries To start the day praising the Lord brightened my scan more than five cups of coffee could have, and we even got to catch up with a dear friend, “Uncle Charlie,” now retired from Children’s Bible Hour. kathryn-w-armstrongs-artprize-8-muralSecond stop was to check out my ArtPrize Entry, titled “From the Rising of the Sun,” based on Psalm 113:3, “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the LORD’s name is to be praised.”

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-second-halfI still need to finish up with the lighting and various other projects,
but hopefully everything will be in order for the official start tomorrow morning.sunshine-snack-along-the-grand-river By then, it was time to stop for “Elevensies,” and the girls picnicking-along-the-grand-river—knowing I’m on a diet—made the most magnificent banana/egg pancakes
with fruit, nuts, and coconut cream topping! It was amazing and tasted great! banana-egg-pancakes-with-fruitIn fact, I’ll make a separate post to share the recipe when I get a chance! public-museum-of-grand-rapidsAfter our respite by the Grand River, we headed out to see what else we could see of the ArtPrize pieces that are already installed. color-me-orangeOf course, with 1,453 entries at 171 venues, we barely scratched the surface, devos-hall-conference-centerbut we had fun, and I now know there’s a lot of excellent competition! migration-of-monarach-butterflies-sculptureWe could have spent all day (had we had the leisure), marie-catribs-in-grand-rapidsbut our last stop (before ending at my house for a prayer time) was a late lunch at Marie Catrib’s, where there’s always a great selection of veggie dishes.choosing-dishes-at-marie-catribs We all chose the “Choose 3 Salads” option, pick-3-veggie-lunchand I came home inspired with some new ideas
for how to eat light and still ‘licious! enjoying-lunch-at-marie-catribsI have to say, it’s great to have friends who are so supportive, not only of what I’m trying to do (like ArtPrize), but what I’m trying not to do (like overeat). elevensies-along-the-grand-riverThank you, Lord, for faithful friends! I want to be a faithful friend too.quote-by-martin-luther-king“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).