WPC: Fresh flowers and plants for the 1st day of Spring

Today is the first day of spring in our part of the world — my favorite season!  It is also Friday and WordPress photo challenge time.

California Poppy oldtown Monterey

Bright orange California poppies — a symbol of spring. Photo taken near Colton Hall downtown historic Monterey last week.

The theme this week is “Fresh”.  From Jen H…

In the Northern Hemisphere, spring is beginning to slowly appear, and many of us whose creativity was dampened by the cold and drear of winter days are beginning to reawaken. The freshness of spring is a powerful catalyst to get shutterbugs outdoors and get
shooting.

For this week’s photo challenge, share with us a photo that expresses something fresh

The “freshness of spring” is exactly the reason for these photos.

From oak trees sprouting new leaves…

Fresh new leaves on oak

And new sprouts on eucalyptus and pines…

Fresh grass and more…

And flowers abundantly expressing the freshness of spring…

Spring Blue Scrub Jay

I don’t have the right camera to take bird photos, but this “California” Coastal Western scrub jay didn’t seem to mind being close so I snapped these photos too.  Easy enough since the Western jays live in many suburban gardens.

Fresh plants and hearing so many birds chirping outdoors is a wonderful sign of spring.

Spring Blue Scrub Jay 1

To participate in the challenge, click here.  And I wish you a most happy spring season!

WPC Walls 2: National Steinbeck Center Walls from Exhibit “Filipino Voices”

My second entry for the WordPress Photo Challenge theme…WALL (first entry, here).

Ever since I posted photos of John Steinbeck’s hometown for the WordPress Photo Challenge topic “Reward”, it seems he has been ever-present on my mind.

Steinbeck Exhibit Wall 4

I remember now that I never posted photos on my blog from an exhibit at the Steinbeck Center, focused on the communities that defined the Salinas Valley, including my own — the Filipino Community.

Steinbeck Exhibit Entrance

Although I did not grow up in this area (I grew up in the Philippines), I enjoyed participating in the process, and making new friends — all while learning about the deep roots of Filipinos in the Salinas Valley.

Steinbeck Exhibit Wall 2

I also learned so much more about the history of Filipino immigrants to the U.S., and Filipino-American farm workers’ brave fight for rights along with Cesar Chavez and the UFW.  (Also see Delano Grape Strike article here, or about the film by Marissa Aroy – Delano Manongs Facebook page.  Note: this film was shown at the 2015 Seattle Asian American Film Festival - Social Justice Shorts)

Maybe it was too busy then, or that I was not too crazy about the photos I took (I’ve learned so much more about photography since then, and got rid of the awful pocket camera I had).

But thanks to these WordPress Photo challenge prompts, and for my family history…I now add these photos to my blog of the walls, at the Filipino Voices Exhibit at the National Steinbeck Center.

The exhibit occurred during the spring / summer of 2012.

Steinbeck Exhibit Wall 8

To see entries for this weekly photo challenge, click here, and to participate, consider…

…walls you’ve erected and decorated, the halls you walk down each day, or the exteriors you’ve ignored or neglected. What do these walls reveal about a place, people, or you?

WPC Wall: Cherished personal artwork on our walls

This week, the WordPress Photo Challenge theme from Cheri Lucas Rowlands is WALL…

From the interior walls of our home, to our book club’s Facebook wall, to the community bulletin board at the local market, walls are the canvases of our lives: where stories are read, voices are heard, ideas are shared. Much can be revealed from the items on a wall, from old postcards to long-forgotten flyers.

Items on the walls in our home that reflect something personal, something that a loved one made is what I cherish the most.

From the artwork of our grandsons…

Wall of art

to our daughter’s drawing…

Wall of daughter art web

a gift to her father for Christmas, in 2009…

Wall art from daughter web

To see entries for this weekly photo challenge, click here, and to participate, consider…

…the walls you’ve erected and decorated, the halls you walk down each day, or the exteriors you’ve ignored or neglected. What do these walls reveal about a place, people, or you?

It will be fun to look for interesting walls outside our home, with this prompt.

WPC Orange 2: California’s First Brick House

Californias 1st brick building Monterey State Historic ParkCalifornia’s first “fired brick” house —  part of the Monterey State Historic Park’s buildings in downtown old Monterey — also fits right in the WordPress Photo Challenge theme of orange.

The house was built in 1847.  Before construction of this brick structure, most homes in the area were made from adobe — blocks of sun-dried mud.

Californias 1st brick house 7

From the HistoricMonterey.org website:

All Monterey’s early structures were built of adobe (sun-dried mud) blocks. Walls as thick as three feet were needed to support second story floors.

Adobe buildings required plastering on exterior surfaces to keep out damaging winter rains, otherwise the walls were likely to crumble.

 In 1847, Gallant Dickerson arrived in Monterey to introduce a new building technique to California: the art of fired clay brickmaking. Fired brick’s increased strength allowed multiple-storied buildings with standard wall widths; fired brick was also water-resistant and required little or no surface treatment.

Californias 1st brick house 3

Dickerson fired thousands of clay blocks into rock-hard bricks, and with them built one of the first fired-brick buildings in California. He completed only the portion of First Brick House that stands today before moving his family to the Sierra Nevadas in search of gold.

To see other entries and interpretations on the photo theme orange, click here.

WPC: What’s not to love about the color ORANGE?

The theme for the WordPress Photo Challenge this week is orange

From Michelle W…

What’s not to love about orange? It’s vibrant. It’s cheerful. It makes a statement. It’s the perfect punctuation for a punchy photo.

This week, share a group of photos where orange is either the dominant color, or provides a bold highlight. Shoot for at least three photos, and look for different shades — bright neons, deep rusts, delicate peaches.

I didn’t realize how many photos I had with orange colors until this theme…and some with no “home”, so for this challenge, I’m going for orange-themed collages.

I’ll start with turban squash and pumpkin photos, including my little ninja costumed grandsons (playing the part) by their Halloween pumpkins…

Orange hues from the Moss Landing Antique Fair, where you will find anything from Bakelite (an early form of plastic) bracelets to Pez candy dispensers…

And it’s always easy to spot orange hues at the Farmers Market, and I’m so happy when fall comes and crunchy Fuyu persimmons are in season…

My grandsons ran their first 3K race at the Just Run program, the day before the International Big Sur Marathon last year, and there were a LOT of orange there!

Here they are with their teachers at the Pacific Grove starting / ending points.  Their teachers coordinated the program for their school last year…

Orange seems to be a big theme in my grandsons’ clothing, especially when I want to keep track of them at crowded places, like during visits to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (included in this collage is an orange hued sea anemone at the aquarium)…

At an annual Labor Day parade, my grandsons’ Taekwondo school marched near the Monterey Korean Community contingent, where there were plenty of orange found in the costumes.  The last photo is of then “orange belt” Gabriel waiting for instruction before demonstrating a board break at a festival, after the parade…

I posted these jellyfish photos for the Earth-Friendly Friday challenge on severe weather and wildlife well being (about jellyfish blooms)

And finally, the last batch of this orange-fest are some of my orange hued sunset photos, starting with a sunset with the Golden Gate Bridge at the background, to one taken from home…

Whew!  That is a lot of orange themes, and a whole lot more than what Michelle suggested…but somehow I feel better at posting photos from my digital library that otherwise may have been forgotten.

To see other entries and interpretations on the photo theme orange, click here.

WPC Reward: The longevity of author John Steinbeck – photos from his hometown

Yesterday. February 27, was the author John Steinbeck’s birthday (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) — a good occasion to post my Oldtown Salinas photos and submit my 2nd WordPress Photo Challenge on the theme of Reward, for the reward of longevity.

Longevity: long life – the fact of living for many years – length of life – the length of time that something or someone lasts or continues (Definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary)

Story of the whole valley web

Steinbeck’s words carved into stone at entrance of National Steinbeck Center

Among the rewards for a life well-lived is physical longevity and what is left, well after death.

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, Monterey County, California.  He wrote 27 books and won both a Pulitzer and the National Book Award for his novel, The Grapes of Wrath.  He also won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962 (controversial at the time) for “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”  and “realistic and imaginative writing, combining as it does sympathetic humor and keen social perception”.

Salinas is the largest city in Monterey County, and the county seat.  It has a population of 155,000 and is located 8 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

The mild weather and rich valley soil is why the area is called “the salad bowl of the world”.  It is the only county in the United States that produces more than $1 billion annually in vegetable sales.

Salinas Valley Fields web

This was taken last week…really! The weather is so mild here, that there is something growing in the fields most of the time.

 

Much of Steinbeck’s writing is set in Southern and Central California, particularly the Salinas Valley and the Central California Coast.

The photos below are from “Old Town” Salinas, location of the National Steinbeck Center.  The house where John Steinbeck was born is a few blocks away from Oldtown. 

Steinbeck Center

Buildings in the Victorian style of architecture dot the old town Salinas downtown area.

Here are some examples of the buildings, walking out from the National Steinbeck Center…

Old Salinas buildings 5 web

Some of the building details in Oldtown…

And some interesting tile work on a few of the entryways…

And finally, some scenes from  the stores and restaurants in Oldtown…

Steinbeck Statue at Salinas Library web

 

The old town Salinas library is a few blocks away and is named after John Steinbeck.

There is another of the rock (like the one in front of the Steinbeck Center) carved with his quote, outside the library…

 

Books Best Friend Quote web

In addition to tips learned on the WordPress Photo Challenges, these series of photos were also inspired by Cardinal Guzman’s new photo challenge The Changing Seasons “to train your eye”.

This is my first attempt at taking a series of photos of one place, and it certainly made me look up/down and check out details, which I think in general makes me a better observer of what is around me…of life.

I’m inspired by photography that captures a sense of place and people, especially vibrant photos from The Third Eye Mom (see Lesson in Street Photography), and intricate nature photos, and great landscape photography from Just Another Nature Enthusiast (see the EcoRegion series).

In our digital era and through our blogs, we all have the opportunity for the “reward” of longevity — since our words and photos will be around long after we are gone, right?

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To see interpretations from the WordPress blogging community or to join in the Weekly Photo Challenge, click here.

To participate in the new monthly photo challenge, The Changing Seasons, hosted by Cardinal Guzman, click here.  NOTE: I’m also including these photos as my first attempt and as practice :) for this monthly challenge (though late, and more photos than suggested) since I like the idea of capturing sets of photos for different seasons — plus these photos are not archived, or published elsewhere, but taken last week. 

Seeing amazing photos from the WordPress blogging community is always inspiring, and tips are always appreciated from seasoned and professional photographers.

WPC – Martial Arts Black Belt Reward

The theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge from Krista is Reward.

Reward is filthy with possibility: it could be your third grader’s beaming smile after reading her first chapter book, a steaming mug of chicken soup after a long run in the cold, a photo of your brand-new baby — your reward for patience during nine months of construction, or your extended family gathered around the dinner table.

Jun White BeltJun, my oldest grandson, started taking Taekwondo – a martial art that originated in Korea over 2,000 years ago and an Olympics sport  — when he was 5 years old.

In the span of time that he has taken Taekwondo classes, I probably have thousands of photos of him…and the one at right was taken for his first day of class, as a “white belt”.

Over the years, I’ve watched him learn and memorize his poomsaes (the forms learned for each belt level), learn advancing degrees of self-defense techniques, sparring, and grow from a shy to a more confident young man.

So the reward for his dedication and our  family’s support of his martial arts lessons?

Last summer, shortly before his 10th birthday, he received his black belt.

Black Belt Ceremony

Above and below, part of the invitation to the Black Belt Graduation Ceremony…Invite TKD GraduationBlack Belt Ceremony.jpg 1Black Belt Ceremony 2

Black Belt Ceremony 3

Jun at TKD Competition

The black belt itself is a reward for sticking with martial arts training, and to understand that practice and dedication makes you better.

My hope is that my grandson will continue to learn that anything you put your effort and focus in, over time, will have its own rewards….beyond a belt color.

Can you tell how proud I am of this young person?

To see interpretation for this WordPress blogging community weekly photo challenge, click here.

WPC: Rule of Thirds – The frog and a sand dollar

This little frog (about the size of a thumb) is a Sierran Treefrog (Pseudacris sierra), formerly called Pacific Treefrog or Pacific Chorus Frog and was not living in a tree, but at the time, an unused spa in our backyard.

Sierran Tree Frog focus on eyes web

It was in a crevice so I did not really have much of a choice but to shoot through the slit near the heating element area, making the photo naturally follow the rule of third, and a little of the “bokeh” that Jen discusses for the challenge .

I did not have to crop the frog photo above, and slightly cropped the one below.

Sierran Tree Frog

And here is one with my grandson Jun showing me a sand dollar that washed up during a beach visit.   I think I could have adjusted the shot slightly for more of the 1/3 rule here…

Jun holding sand dollar

The rule of 3rd is something basic that I do think about now when composing photographs.  And as far as the “bokeh” shots I’ll definitely look to improve and experiment with…so thank you WP Photo Challenges!

So, I think these photos capture the WordPress Photo Challenge this week…what do you think?

A note on frogs from my earlier post:

You may have heard that frogs are considered indicator species, or animal sentinels, and a sort of planetary canary.

Frogs have thin skins that are permeable to water, and lay their eggs in bodies of water.  Perhaps because of this,  they are sensitive to pollutants and other problems with the environment.

It is comforting to know the little frogs survive in our backyard, despite the large presence of big business agriculture in our county (Monterey is the only county in the United States with more than 1 BILLION in annual vegetable sales).

Though these frogs are not endangered, frog populations can decline quite quickly.

For more, please visit California Herps – A Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of California

To see amazing interpretations and beautiful photography showcasing the rule of thirds and the “bokeh” concept, click here.

WPC: Symmetry in nature and rice fields

This week, the theme for the WordPress Photo Challenge is…

Symmetry (noun): the quality of something that has two sides or halves that are the same or very close in size, shape, and position; the quality of having symmetrical parts.

…For this challenge, share an image of symmetry. Don’t limit yourself to architecture — you can bend this theme in any way you’d like.  A portrait of your twins? A window grille? The yellow lines of a busy road? A row of sharp points along a metal fence? Let the world inspire you.

It is easy to find symmetry in nature…

Symetry Plant Leaf web

Symetry in nature web

And in how we create our fields and plant our food, from rice fields in the Philippines…

Rice Field Symetry web

To lettuce fields in Monterey County, California…

Monterey County Fields

And in how we construct our spaces indoors…

Restaurant BW web

Image of carved wood entryway at a local Vietnamese restaurant…

To see submissions for this theme from the WordPress blogging community click here.

WPC: Scale – BONSAI! Nature’s giant trees grown in small containers

There will undoubtedly be great photos for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge and the theme, Scale.

Like many, I am in awe of majestic and giant trees in nature, especially redwoods and oak trees.  It is fascinating to me that the same trees that grow to hundreds of feet in height can be shaped and cultivated in a teeny tiny container.

At an Obon Festival here in the Monterey Bay area, I photographed these bonsai trees, exhibited as part of the festival.

The first photo will give you an idea of scale…

bonsai 1

The trees in the containers were between 20 to 50 years old and makes one really appreciate the devotion it takes to practice this Japanese art form.

You cannot help but admire a practice that can take a redwood tree (sequoias) — the tallest living trees on our planet, and normally growing 300-350 feet tall — and grow it in miniature format in a small ceramic pot.

Bonsai Redwood Tree

Bonsai Redwood Tree

My other favorites…

Bonsai Elm Tree

Bonsai Elm Tree

Bonsai Monterey Pine Tree

Bonsai Monterey Pine Tree

And there was even a bonsai with flowers…with my finger there for scale :)

Bonsai with flowers!

Bonsai with flowers!

Do you think you would have the patience to devote the years it takes to cultivate this art form?

WPC: Depth — King Tides and flooded paths at Elkhorn Slough

Last Wednesday, we had super high tides in our area.  These high tides are also called “king tides”, and can damage property as well as cause erosion in coastal areas.

I went to Elkhorn Slough the day of the high tide to take photographs and take part in the California King Tides Project.

Elkhorn Slough Viewing Area web

Outside of San Francisco Bay, Elkhorn Slough harbors California’s largest tract of tidal salt marsh.

It is home to more than 135 aquatic bird, 550 marine invertebrate, 102 fish species, sea lions, harbor seals, and California sea otters.  It is also a temporary home to hundreds of bird species that use the slough during their annual migrations.

It is a treasure in this area of California, and a special place to see wildlife up close — and a safe place to kayak (weather permitting of course!)

Elkhorn Slough web

Here is a little about the area from the Elkhorn Slough.org website:

Dunes and broad stretches of open sandy beach characterize the inner curve of Monterey Bay.

The expansive beaches are interrupted only by the outlets of the Pajaro and Salinas Rivers, and the entrance to Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing Harbor.

The protected waters of the slough and its associated mudflats, wetlands, and nearby dunes provide a haven for a wide variety of birds, fish and unusual marine life.

This remarkable variety of habitats provides visitors a rare opportunity to explore and discover nature’s secrets.

Elkhorn water web

The tide for the area is normally around 5 feet.  During the king tide, the tide rose to over 6 feet and flooded walking paths, as well as the parking area of Kirby Park, one of the launching points for those who want to kayak in the slough.

For a comparison, here is a photo of my grandchildren walking the path at Kirby Park, taken on a foggy day in 2009.

Elkhorn path no flooding web

And below are photos I took from my phone camera on January 21, 2015, one of the “king tide” days…

Elkhorn flooded path 1 webThe tide reached its peak while a family was at the viewing bridge, and they had to pass the flooded path to get back to the parking area.

Some waited for the water to recede, including me!  I do like to keep my feet and shoes dry, and was not willing to walk on the logs that lined the path (I’m not good at balancing…and pretty sure I would have ended up with more than wet shoes).

Elkhorn flooded path web

Parts of the path have already eroded…

Elkhorn water eroding path web

And those who parked in the launching area to kayak may have been surprised to see water near their vehicles upon their return.

Kirby flooded parking area web

Parts of parking area near launching ramp flooded…Kirby parking and docking area web

We will see if these tides get more severe, meaning many coastal areas, and even small parks like Kirby will need funding to repair and raise walking paths and parking areas.

Documenting the differences will hopefully help in budgeting and planning for these changes in our environment.

This post is part of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.  The theme this week is Depth, from Ben Huberman:

This week, share with us your take on “depth” — you can take it literally, like me, by showing something (a dense forest, your lawn after a blizzard) that suggests volume, a distance between surface and bottom. Or go with a more figurative approach: use a deep color palette, play with your image’s depth of field, or highlight a person, a place, or an object to which you feel deeply connected.

More information: California King Tides Project – Snap the Shore, See the Future 

The California King Tides Project help people visualize how sea level rise will impact their lives.  Via smartphones and social media, we invite you to document “king tides” – the highest high tides of today, which will be the average water levels of the future.

The pictures that you take help scientists and managers better plan for future flood risks, and give you a way to participate directly in the science that will drive decisions in your community.  Everyone is welcome to participate!

gw-sewater-intrusion2

One of the side effects of salt water intrusion is contamination of freshwater sources.  Graphic Source: Blog post from (Journalist and Photographer) Sabrina Doyle’s website.  Click on image to visit website and for more information.

San Francisco Bay is RISING.  There is an educational video on the California King Tides website about sea level rise and global warming.  I highly recommend viewing if you have an interest in the environment, ocean warming and resulting sea level rise as it relates to the Bay Area and beyond.  See below or link here: http://california.kingtides.net/what-is-sea-level-rise/

And if you are interested in more LolaKo.com photos and posts related to Elkhorn Slough, click here.

Is the area where you live affected by these super high tides?  What is your opinion on climate change?

WordPress Photo Challenge: Express Yourself…with hats and sunglasses!

One of the fun ways children express themselves is through costumes and dress up times, or sometimes, donning and playing with whatever is around at the time.

This week, the theme from Krista is “Express Yourself”…

Today, we challenge you to show us what “express yourself” means to you. It could be the delightful, gummy grin of a baby grand-nephew, a message of love written with a biplane in the sky, the clenched fist of anger and frustration, or even a lunch with an attitude. This topic is wide-open and I can’t wait to see what you do with it. Have fun!

My goodness…a totally wide-open challenge with a theme like this opens it up to all sorts of interpretation, and is also a good excuse to post photos I cherish!  I hope you enjoy these “hat” and sun glass photos of my grandsons

silly hatsThe same hats…

Jun in curly que hatCurly hat…

G hard hat 1 web

Hard hat (here is Gabriel giving “directions” — he likes being the boss)

JJ 2 hats web

Jun with TWO hats —- because sometimes, one hat is not enough!

G bike helmet and swim  goggles

Bike helmet over hat, finished with swim goggles – his own look!

G TKD Helmet webSquishy face under kick paddle “hat” — at the 2014 USA Taekwondo National Championships where there is a lot of waiting, a bored Gabriel decides to wear the martial arts kicking paddles.

G Indiana Jones hat web

The boys had identical Indiana Jones hats, and for a while they liked to wear it everywhere — on the way to Taekwondo practice.

And then the sunglasses….

2 Sunglasses again

JJ Sunglasses web

2 Sunglasses web

Lastly, anytime I can capture photos of my grandsons around flowers is a happy photograph for me…J and daisies web

G Flowers webTo see interpretations of the theme “Express Yourself” from the WordPress blogging community, click here…and enjoy!

WordPress Photo Challenge: Serenity – Surfer at Sunset

Sunsets for me evoke serenity…and lately, the sunsets here on the Central Coast of California have been spectacular.

California surfer at sunset web

Surfer at sunset at Fort Ord Dunes State Park (California). Photo via my HTC One phone camera.

At the recently opened Fort Ord Dunes State Park, my sunset image became more interesting with the added silhouette of a surfer who was in the same area to watch the sunset after surfing.

I met him after I took the photo, and it turns out he is a photographer and takes photographs of waves while surfing — how cool is that!

Surfer-in-training-3Related post:

One of the first photo challenges I participated in…(a “blogging experiment”) when the theme was the color blue.

My little surfers in training (in Pacifica, near San Francisco, CA)…(click on photo to see the series posted for the challenge)

See more interpretations of Serenity from the WordPress Photo Challenge blogging community here.

WordPress Photo Challenge – resting dragonfly shadow

I enjoy WordPress photo challenges and continue to pick up great tips — in addition to seeing stunning photographs by fellow bloggers — through these challenges.

The theme for the second challenge in 2015 is Shadowed, from Jen Hooks…

For this week’s Photo Challenge, find the shadows. You can choose a literal interpretation and shoot an actual shadow, or you can play with the light and dark, and create a moody scene, or capture your subject in a rich and interesting way.

Dragonfly Shadow web

I have yet to experiment with shadows and low lighting, so I am submitting my shot of a dragonfly and its shadow, resting on a Native Leaf wine bag (which I posted on the NL blog).  Excerpt:

Dragonflies are ancient insects and there are 28 species of dragonflies and damselflies in the San Francisco Bay area.

Looking at the Wildlife of the San Francisco Bay Area website, it looks like this particular one is a Blue-eyed Darner – Rhionaeschna multicolor.

I remember chasing after vibrantly colored dragonflies when I was a kid growing up in the Philippines.  There was a house near us with an abandoned pool and what must have been perfect breeding grounds for them, as dragonflies and damselflies begin their lives living underwater for a year of more as nymphs (eating lots of mosquito).  No wonder there were so many dragonflies in that area!

Of course back then, we did not worry that one of our playmates might fall in the algae, leaf-filled tannin brown (and rather deep) water…we just had fun and ran after the shiny dragonflies.

Why save a dragonfly

Information from the US Fish & Wildlife website Endangered Species Fact Sheet

Did you grow up seeing dragonflies and where there myths about dragonflies in your culture?

Do you still see them where you now live?

WP Photo Challenge: Angular – a driftwood shelter

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge “Angular” is from Xiao Yu:

What does angular mean to you? It might mean the corner on which you live or the intersection of sea and sky at a 180 degree angle. Angular also offers a chance to shoot from an entirely new perspective: from above, below, or even from the margins of the fray. Above all, have fun!

I heard my grandsons urging me to go faster…”Come on Lola!” as they ran towards a driftwood shelter they spotted ahead on the beach.  They couldn’t wait to get to it.

web Driftlog shelter 4

Photos of a driftwood shelter did not seem an obvious choice for this challenge, but I imagine whoever built this had to think a lot about angles to construct this beach refuge.

web Driftlog shelter 2

web Driftlog shelter 5

web Driftlog shelter 6

And it was fun to see my grandsons play, and to take photos of the structure from different angles…web Driftlog shelterWho knows from where and how far these logs floated before they landed on this central California beach.  From a recent storm, or a shipwreck from long ago, timber discarded at a faraway beach?

How long did these float among waves, sharp edges and contours softened by the water before landing here to be formed into this shelter…and how long before these wash back into the sea again, perhaps providing shelter for birds and ocean creatures as they float towards the next destination.

See more submissions for this WordPress blog photo challenge here.

Refraction…water, the iris and solar path lights

This week’s WordPress photo challenge from Kevin Conboy was interesting and definitely a challenge…

For this photo challenge, show us what “refraction” means to you. It could be an image taken in a reflective surface, it could be light bent from behind an object, or it could mean remedial math homework: the choice is completely up to you. I’m looking forward to seeing how you interpret “refraction.”

It seems that light reflecting on water is the easy place to go, and I did have some photos from the Monterey Bay Aquarium that would fit the theme for this challenge.

Monterey Bay Aquarium web

My photo of a snowy egret (a type of heron) posted on the 2014 Monterey Bay Birding Festival article may be relevant for the theme…

The shape of the bill reflected on the water…what do you think?

snowy-egret refraction post

Then there is the refraction on the iris of my grandson Jun’s eyes…

Juns Eyes

When I zoomed in on the iris…I could make out the letter “T” and part of an “A”…and it was a clue to where the photo was taken, at his TaeKwonDo dojang!

This was a tough challenge to interpret, and I can’t wait to see if other WordPress bloggers participating in this challenge posted eye photographs, too.

UPDATE November 13, 2014: After this challenge, I am paying more attention to refracted light…and during an evening walk, noticed these solar lighting patterns that fit the theme.

solar lights

solar lights 3 web

Remaining light and the dreamy theme for this week’s WordPress photo challenge

Sometimes, the time of day instantly makes a dreamy atmosphere…

Here is my photo submission for this week’s photo challenge theme, Dreamy, taken with my phone camera near the Moss Landing Marine Lab building (the building with the lights).

Dreamy Photo Challenge wb

My take for this week’s WordPress Photo challenge — photo I took of my grandchildren late in the summer, near the MLM Lab building.

The sun had just set.  The reflection of the colors, and remaining light on the water made me wonder what my grandsons were thinking of — or imagining and dreaming about — as they looked across the water.

The Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) is a marine science research and education facility and the second oldest marine lab on Monterey Bay.  From the MLML website:

The lab is situated in an excellent location for the study of the marine world.

The Monterey Submarine Canyon, the largest such feature on the west coast of North America, begins within a few hundred meters of the Moss Landing harbor and the MLML research fleet.

To the east of MLML is the Elkhorn Slough, the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California outside of San Francisco Bay, and… continue reading (and to see photos at MLML open house)

To see creative interpretations from WordPress bloggers on this week’s photo challenge theme, click here.

Liberated from laundry? Humanity and my take on this week’s photo challenge

We walked to the river carrying everything we needed to do the laundry…from the bundles of clothes and wash basins balanced on top of our heads, the bars of soap, the pot of rice, bananas and other food we will cook and eat while we wait for the warm sun to dry the clothes on the rocks.

This was laundry day when I was a kid and lived in the province (away from the city). Since my younger sister and I were still little, we played and splashed in the water while the other women in our household went about the task of washing clothes.

Fast forward decades later, I am  back to the Philippines, and while stopped over a bridge to take in the view, I look below and see a scene from my childhood…women washing clothes by the river.

Laundry day 3 web

I am nostalgic and remember the fun we had playing in the river during laundry day — rearranging rocks to form our own little swimming pools and creating dams to capture fish and freshwater shrimps.

Then I thought, wait….I am a grandmother now…why are these women STILL doing laundry this way?

My take on this week’s WordPress photo challenge are photos about something we share as modern humans..that is, we all wear clothes, and these clothes need to be washed.

Laundry day 2a web

How we go about doing laundry though is a symbol of how developed the area is where we live, and how much time is available to women.

Here in the US, over 80% of households have clothes washers (even almost a decade ago, based on the these stats from the US Department of Energy):

Percent clothes washer stats US

For poor households, over 60% still had clothes washers…and anyone can go to laundromat to wash clothes.

We take for granted the clean running water we have access to, and the machines that liberate us from tedious tasks, like washing clothes.

Laundry day 5 web

How often is this scene still repeated around the world daily?  Imagine how liberated human beings  — particularly women — can be, simply by having a  machine that we take for granted here in the US.

Laundry day 4 web

It may not be something we ever think about, but to me, how laundry is done around the world is an indicator of progress.

And the work towards eradicating poverty worldwide — so that everyone has access to the tools, and yes, machinery — to allow us more time to live a good life and express ourselves is part of what defines our humanity.

To see beautiful humanity inspired photographs and other imaginative takes on the challenge, visit the WordPress Photo Challenge Site. 

For more on why I think there is still so much poverty in my home country of the Philippines, see my post Chameleons: Why Filipinos live and work in just about every country in the world.

WordPress Photo Challenge Reflections: cactus, black oak and well cover

Here is my submission for the WordPress Photo Challenge – reflections, inspiration from Ben, whose beautiful photos are posted on his blog, Flights, Camera, Satisfaction.

My three reflection photos:

Saguaro Cactus Reflection r

Saguaro Cactus grown from seed, mirror reflection.  Saguaros can live up to 150 years, and at about 75 years old, will grow an arm (called a spear).  Click on the photo to view post.

Being open to appreciating new things, such as for plants I did not care for in the past, like cactus…which are actually amazing plants.

Springtime California Black Oak

To be in the moment to appreciate reflections of time.  Spring is my favorite time of the year, and a great time to photograph trees like the California Black Oak sprouting light green leaves…

Well-Cover-Detail-Larkin-House reflection

And reflection from the well water that shows off details of its metal cover (also used in the WordPress photo challenge, resolved to pay attention to — .and to capture more details in my photographs.)

And about that cactus on the photograph… It is now 18 years old and was grown from seed.  If you are curious to know how long cactus seeds keep (or are viable)…check out the comment section on Lolako.com’s “Contact” page, here.   Can you guess?

  • over 20 years?
  • over 200 years?
  • or for over 2,000 years?

Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns (and about that face from the last post)

The face in the prior post is of a tree frog indigenous to California.  It was not in a tree, but by the spa, in a little crevice near the filter.

The treefrog’s patterns also works for this week’s WordPress photo challenge from Cheri Lucas Rowlands: From lines to patterns

Sierran Tree Frog profile

Unused for years, the spa must have provided frogs with a good source of water over the summer — though unlike bullfrogs and other kinds of frogs, tree frogs, as the name implies,  spend much of their lives outside of the water.

The dark stripe through the eyes made it fairly easy to identify this frog.

Sierran Tree Frog

Sierran Tree Frog in the spa filer are

Looking at the CaliforniaHerps.com website, I believe it is a Sierran Treefrog (Pseudacris sierra, formerly called Pacific Treefrog or Pacific Chorus Frog).

At first, I thought it was a Baja California Treefrog or perhaps the Northern Pacific treefrog. 

But since it lives here, in Monterey county, the only frog / habitat area match is that of the Sierran Treefrog.

You may have heard that frogs are considered indicator species, or animal sentinels, and a sort of planetary canary.

Frogs have thin skins that are permeable to water, and lay their eggs in bodies of water.  Perhaps because of this,  they are sensitive to pollutants and other problems with the environment.

Sierran Tree Frog in Monterey County rd

This Sierran treefrog is about 2 inches in lenght…striking patterns!

pregillamap3species2

Green part is approximate range of Sierran Tree Frog in California

 

It is comforting to know the little frogs survive in our backyard, despite the large presence of big business agriculture in our county (Monterey is the only county in the United States with more than 1 BILLION in annual vegetable sales).

Though these frogs are not endangered, frog populations can decline quite quickly.

For more, please visit California Herps – A Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of California

 

And for more on a previous post about Monterey County agriculture, click on the line / pattern photo of the strawberry fields below.

Strawberry Fields Forever

or to find out what grows in the rich soils of Monterey county, click on the lines of begonia photo below…

Nursery Field of Begonia Monterey County rd

 

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: An Unusual POV (and the very basic…placing my subject away from the middle)

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge from Cheri Lucas Rowlands is: Challenge yourself to rethink your ideas about what subjects are appropriate, and then challenge yourself again to find an unusual perspective on your subject.

I love this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge because this is exactly what I am trying to do…to change my point of view when taking photographs.

Right now, this point of view is just to shift my subject away from the middle.  The photo of my grandson, Gabriel below —hot chocolate in hand— is a good example.

Gabriel and hot cocoa As a (forever) amateur photographer, I tend to place my subject in the middle of the photograph.  It’s time to move on and actually work at techniques to take better pictures!

My daughter recently gave me the book “The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography” by Jim Miotke and I am getting great tips. The most interesting chapter so far is on the rule of thirds when composing photographs.  So…I am rethinking my shots and allowing more of the background in my photos.

Digging at the Beach

I know this is so basic…especially as I see so many stunning photographs when I visit blogs during the WordPress Photo Challenges.  And it is not so unusual yet..but its a start of changing my POV.  What do you think?

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says…Sea Shells From Around the World (when it should say Soup, Nuts & Shells)

From a roadside store off of California Hwy 1 on the central coast,  the sign says…

Sea shells from around the world rdBut actually, the shells came mostly from ONE part of the world…the Philippines

pangasinan shell chimes and dried spiny fish
The sign says “wind chime Pangasinan w/ pink” but the wind chimes are bundled up in a plastic bag, while the eerie puff/spiny dried fish with big eyes are the prominent items on the shelf (Pangasinan is a province in the Philippines).  Look at the eye on the fish to the right, in the plastic bag.

Sea Shells detail

The sign also said ORGANICS but instead I found soup, baby food (??t?) nuts and, uh, no organics that day…

The shells for sale are on the lower shelf.

Soup to  Shells rd

Star Fish and Pineapple rings rd

So how about a star fish, and by the way, maybe some dried fruit, too?

sea shells, pasta and  lentils rd

A basket pack of mix shells from the Philippines, and oh yes, do we need pasta and lentils this week?

This is indeed a strange “Sea Shell” store!

Sea Shells detail 1

Beautiful patterns on these shells, I should have thought about these shell photos for the previous patterns challenge!

And here are photos of signs I found for sale at the Moss Landing Antique Faire last year.

Wine Classy

Gas Arm Leg Both sign at Moss Landing Antique Fair

I used the above gas sign photo for a recent post on which countries pay the highest and cheapest gas per gallon.  One never knows when a photo will come in handy for a blog post (these photos were from my phone camera).

Click here to see interpretations from the WordPress and blogging community for this week’s photo challenge theme from Sara Rosso  “The Sign Says”.

If not sit down rd

Lastly, do you know why this sign was above the toilet inside a stall at a Chinese / Vietnamese restaurant (spotted in San Jose, California)?