July 4th red, white and blue symbolism for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge

The theme for this week’s photo challenge is symbol.  From host Jen H:

Symbolism is uniquely human. We use symbols to represent intangible things like our beliefs and emotions, and to convert the abstract into something understandable. We may also use symbols to simplify and convey information.

Photography is often the same; an image illustrates a single moment in time, or captures an object in perpetuity. Much like symbols, photographs, too, may conjure vivid memories and mean a wide range of things to different people.

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Last Saturday was the American July 4th Independence Day holiday.  I think the colors of the American flag is a strong symbol and recognized globally. It seems a good topic for this photo challenge theme!

These photos are from a July 4th community park celebration, where many people from all ages showed their patriotism and creativity, decked out with the red, white and blue colors of the American flag.

From socks to hats, the red, white and blue colors were everywhere.  Even pets had scarves with the colors or carried flags for their owners.

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If you live in the U.S., did you attend a similar community celebration?

If you live outside the U.S., are there similar activities that inspire people to dress patriotically, or creatively express your nation’s flag colors?

My muse: The ocean and two little men

This week, the WordPress Photo Challenge theme is “Muse”.

Sometimes, these photo challenges (like on refraction) are indeed, a challenge.  But this is an easier one for me and I bet it will be for many bloggers who join in this weekly photo challenge.

There are definitely certain themes to my photographs that I can identify as inspiration: the ocean and my two grandsons.

So for this week, my entry is a collage of ocean and beach related photos of the two little men, many of which have been woven into articles posted on my blog, or for past WordPress Photo Challenges.

Frisbee and no frost here

Silhouette photo of our grandsons enjoying the late afternoon warm weather at the beach with their Frisbee, for post on California Drought last year.

The little men taking turns to bury the other in the sand, and posted for the photo challenge “Thankful”

These photos were taken in Pacifica, near San Francisco 3 year 1/2 years ago, and some posted for the Photo Challenge theme “Blue”.

I posted hotos for this series for the theme “An unusual POV”

Telescopes outside the Monterey Bay Aquarium, near their tide pool…

Photos of a driftwood shelter used for the theme “Angular”

Most of all… I always treasure photos by the ocean and nearing sunset, even if all I have for the moment is my smart phone camera.

With the ocean nearby, and a nice collection of photos with two little men I adore ♥  it will probably be a while until I come across a photo challenge as fun and easy as this one.  Whatever the theme, the challenges are always a great opportunity to learn more about photography.

For more about this week’s theme, and to see host Brie Anne Demkiw’s amazing photos (and the WordPress blogging community submissions), click here.

Roy G. Biv – A post for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge are photos with colors in a rainbow.  From Michelle W:

“Roy G. Biv” is an acronym made of the first letters of the seven colors of the rainbow, to help you remember: Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Violet.

We are to share a photo gallery with one image for each color…

Or… “share an image that contains all the colors of the rainbow (or an actual rainbow)”.

I don’t have a good photo of an actual rainbow yet, but I do have one of my grandson, Gabriel, wearing something that has all the colors of the rainbow, and preparing to do artwork, where most likely, he will use all the colors of the rainbow.

Rainbow Art

And so, my entry is a take on both!  Happy Friday! 🙂

Should you buy those seashells sold by the seashore? On beach walks, seahorses and collecting sea shells

Kelp on beachesI love seashells.  I am a collector of little shells and interesting objects I find while walking on the beach.

While some beaches are known for their variety of seashells and for beach combing (like those in Florida, Hawaii and Gulf states), at the beaches here in  Monterey Bay, you will likely run into seaweed or giant kelp that have lost their tether and left their undersea home, rather than shells.  It is not a beach you visit to collect seashells.

Kelp on the beach web

My grandson, Gabriel, having fun with kelp that washed up on the beach.

But…you will see sand dollars, broken clam or mussel shells (perhaps remnants from many sea otter lunches), a lot of driftwood, and depending on the beach, pretty little stones, or smooth glass pieces.

Lining up sand dollars with barnacles web

The boys lining up their find of sand dollars… At this beach walk, each of the sand dollars they found (oddly) had barnacles growing on top.

The few shells that do end up on the beach are usually clean, because the animal that lived inside was already eaten by other creatures, shore birds and beach scavengers…or have rotted away before the tide and waves pushed them onto the beach.

My grandsons have picked up my little beach object collecting habit, and we have come back from beach walks with bits of shells, a pretty rock or tiny driftwood.

I started to put  their treasures in glass jars, not because they are colorful or striking like those found at other beaches, but because they liked it and picked it up, and it was a little treasure to them.

Beach combing shells

Some of the little shells and rocks my grandsons collected are in this glass jar.

Although Monterey Bay beaches are not known for pretty seashells, tourist stores — especially those at the Fisherman’s Wharf — do sell colorful sea shells from different parts of the world.

Just as people enjoy eating seafood when visiting seaside towns, people also like buying shells and related products as souvenirs.  I’m sure stores that sell seashells and dried up starfish and other marine animals can be be found in just about any seaside community that caters to tourists.

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A few years ago, during the off-season for tourists, I stopped by a store off of Highway 1 that sold shells and seashell products.

Their sign indicated “Sea Shells from Around the World”… but really, the majority of the shells are from a certain part of the world, and that is the Philippines.  In fact, when I went inside to browse, about 90% of the shells were marked as being from the Philippines.

Why is this?  First, the Philippines has a rich and diverse ocean life (cited as “the center of the center” of biodiversity by researchers at the California Academy of Sciences) with an amazing array of seashells — many of which are prized by collectors.

Second, the Philippines is a poor country…so those in the shell trade could easily exploit locals with low pay to collect these shells for export to tourist shops.

Sea shell shop off season

Sea shell shop Monterey Bay “Off-season”

Growing up in the Philippines, I was accustomed to seeing seashell products fashioned into jewelry, necklaces and decorative items, or dried marine animals like starfish, seahorses glued onto frames and home decor items.

Because they were so common, I always thought that these seashells and marine animals were picked up by beach combing… as in, the creatures are already dead and washed ashore.

After a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seahorse Exhibit, I learned otherwise.  From my blog post about the exhibit…

This is not the case, and much of these animals are collected ALIVE and dried to make these souvenirs.

I am saddened at how uninformed I was  about this practice! Family and friends, please do not buy these souvenirs.

With everything else happening to our oceans, we all have to do our part to stop this. And please spread the word about protecting these fragile and fascinating creatures.  In the process, we also protect and  preserve their homes —and our home. More here

This poster from the Aquarium says it best…

Seahorse 1 rd

In support of World Oceans Day and as part of a series for the Earth-Friendly Chroniclers blogging challenge, I am again posting this information.

If I made this incorrect assumption about the shells and dried starfish or seahorses sold at tourist shops, then there are probably others who do not know this information.  More from a shell article in Wikipedia:

…the majority of seashells which are offered for sale commercially have been collected alive (often in bulk) and then killed and cleaned, specifically for the commercial trade.  This type of large-scale exploitation can sometimes have a strong negative impact on local ecosystems, and sometimes can significantly reduce the distribution of rare species.

I am also re-posting this video from the California Academy of Sciences, on the dramatic decline of seahorses all over the world.  Excerpt from my post about seahorses:

…The huge economic boom in China means even more trouble for seahorse populations, as seahorses are highly sought after for use in traditional Chinese medicines.

US Customs at the San Francisco airport recently confiscated a shipment of at least 1,000 seahorses, and the US Fish and Wildlife turned over the dried seahorses to the California Academy of Sciences to help determine their source.  See full post here… including a link about the sea dragons (and seahorses) supply chain and market.

Have you heard of, or used products with dried seahorses?

I can’t help but think that we are doing the same thing to our ocean and its resources, as we did with our forests.  Are we going to look back 25 years from now and find out we unknowingly wiped out certain species of marine life because of unsustainable fishing… and what seems like an innocuous shell collecting hobby?

Can we stop and first find out how these shells are harvested?  If it is done sustainably, or if these creatures are collected beach comb style, then we can happily collect to our heart’s content.  But if not, then we need to find ways to educate the public so we can make responsible choices about the shells we buy.  I don’t want my grandchildren to ask why our generation let the same thing happen to our oceans, as we did to our forests in the Philippines.

Are you  a seashell collector?  If you buy seashells from seaside tourist shops, should the shops let consumers know if the shells were collected from the shore, or sustainably harvested?

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To participate in the Earth-Friendly Chroniclers’ blogging challenges hosted by Jane from Just Another Nature Enthusiast or to see other submissions for the theme “Healthy Oceans – Healthy Planet” click here.

Banig mat patterns plus a vivid parrot

The theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is vivid.

The bright colors and striking patterns of Philippine banig (traditional sleeping mats) came to mind.  Natural plant fibers are used for these handwoven mats, and the photos below are examples of a type made from a grass called “tikog”

Here are 3 pattern examples…

Banig Pattern 1 web

Banig Pattern web

Banig Pattern 2 web

Tikog grass grows near rice fields.  It is a thin grass, so as you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to create a sleeping mat big enough for two adults.

It also takes a lot of planning and an artistic spirit to create the beautiful geometric patterns of banigs for sale at markets in the Philippines.

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Two years ago, I accompanied my grandsons Jun and Gabriel to a summer camp field trip to the San Francisco Zoo.

Both my grandsons like to take photographs, and Jun captured this photo of a parrot in the tropical bird house.  He was 8, and took many photographs while we were there.  This is one of my favorites of his photos for the zoo trip.

Parrot tropical room SF Zoo

Holding hands on the way to a nature park

I love this picture of my first-born grandson, Jun, holding the hands of my sisters.  It is very sweet, and I can’t believe how tiny he was, and how big he is now.  We were on the way to a nature park…

On the way with Juns hand held by great aunties

It was on my bulletin board for many years, and I’m glad I printed it, because the hard drive on the computer where I stored the original digital photo CRASHED.  I lost all the photos in the series.

So now it is scanned, and in digital format once again.  I know…back up, back up, back up, right?  I treasure my photos, and better at backing up photo files now.

Broken down barracks of Fort Ord in the Monterey Bay

Starting in 1917 and up to the 1990’s, almost 1,500,000 military troops trained at Fort Ord.  It was a major army post, located here in the Monterey Bay, in California’s central coast.

Although the post closed in 1994, many of the old buildings remain.

Because I was in the military, there is a part of me that is nostalgic about these buildings…and having lived at military bases, they are familiar to me.Fort Ord off Imjin Eucalyptus side barracks

In addition to its role as a major training base for the army, Fort Ord was also a staging and deployment area for troops that fought in World War II, as well as the Vietnam war.

Word War II is known as the most violent and largest armed conflict in history, and troops who trained here were involved in battles in the Philippines — my home country — after the Japanese conquered the Philippines in 1942.

Many of the old buildings at Fort Ord have already been torn down, and eventually, these will too, to be replaced with new housing communities, office and service facilities, and new shopping centers.

Fort Ord off Imjin barracks 6a

I’ve wanted to photograph some of these old buildings before they are gone forever, and glad that I finally had a chance to do so this month.

I was in the Air Force, and our living quarters were called “dormitories”.  But in the army and other armed forces, buildings that house soldiers are called “barracks”.  Definition below:

The English word comes via French from an old Catalan word “barraca” (hut), originally referring to temporary shelters or huts for various people and animals, but today barracks, are usually permanent buildings for military accommodation.

…The main object of barracks is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training, and esprit de corps.

Fort Ord off Imjin barracks 2

These barracks photos are much different from my previous post for The Changing Season photo challenge (the beautiful scenery at Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf).

Fort Ord off Imjin exit side table

Still…I think it is worth posting, and preserving these images, especially as the landscape transitions to something else.

I imagined this place once filled with many soldiers, and the bugle sounds of the morning reveille — the wake up call (short sound clip below).

Over 20 years after the post closure, the abandoned barracks stand, wounded by vandals, and awaiting their end.

Most of the buildings have broken windows…

Doors removed, stairs missing or overtaken by iceplants…

Fort Ord off Imjin no more stairs

Debris around some of the buildings…

What remains at the Imjin exit side of Fort Ord are mature eucalyptus trees, and the ever-present and invasive ice plants — planted there to contain the sand and for erosion control.

Fort Ord off Imjin Eucalyptus trees

Across the street from these barracks, a wellness center and a shopping center is in place, and beyond these new buildings are brand new housing communities.

Future of Fort Ord land 1

The Ford Ord land also houses facilities used by California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB).  With plenty of land available to construct new buildings, CSUMB is predicted to eventually be the largest in the California State University system.

Fort Ord off Imjin Exit

It’s not all going to be developed though…

Thankfully, three years ago, a large part of the Fort Ord area became a national monument, and is federally protected from further development — a great thing for the Monterey Bay area!

In addition to the interior part of the Fort Ord land, beaches in this area are also part of the national monument  / California State Park system, and land set aside for the public.

And so the Fort Ord land that started as an artillery training field almost 100 years ago, and was a major post for the military from World War I to 1994 now continues its transition, with much of the land going back to public use.

Are there military base closures where you live?  How has the government and community transformed the land after closing the military facility?

Related link: President Barack Obama Proclamation – Establishment of the Fort Ord National Monument

…The protection of the Fort Ord area will maintain its historical and cultural significance, attract tourists and recreationalists from near and far, and enhance its unique natural resources, for the enjoyment of all Americans.

Broken little hearts at Dennis the Menace Playground

There is a popular playground in Monterey’s El Estero Park called Dennis the Menace Playground — named after the comic strip character.

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The creator of Dennis the Menace, cartoonist Hank Ketchum was a local and lived in Pebble Beach, California until his death in 2001, at 81 years old.

More about this park on the graphic below from the Monterey city website…

Story of Dennis the Menace Park

Part of the park’s attraction is a real train steam engine, located at the playground entrance.

My grandchildren have always called this park the “choo choo train” park, and love to climb inside and play around the train steam engine.

We always kept a close eye on them, and when they were smaller, accompanied them up the steps and around the structure.

These days, this is what you will see if you visit the train steam engine…

Boy looking at fenced off train web

…a fenced off area, and one disappointed little kid after another staring at the train.

The city’s explanation for the closure is below…

Steam Engine train closedBoy leaving fenced off steam engine webIf they have never played inside of it, it probably does not matter, they are just curious.  But if the kids are accustomed to playing inside (like my grandchildren), then they’ll be a bit brokenhearted after learning of the closure.

Despite the train steam engine area closure, there is a lot do in the wonderful playground, so it is still definitely worth a visit.

The playground is next to a lake (and an easy walk to the beach), and there are also paddle boats if you want to spend time on the lake itself.  More information here.

The climbing structure next to the train is a good place for kids to expend energy and get exercise.

I spent many years in the insurance industry so I understand liability issues and the reason for fencing off the steam engine area…but that does not make it easier to explain when my grandchildren ask “why did they close it, Lola…why can’t we go inside… like before?”

Train Stem Engine at playground

Do you think we are overprotective of children in our modern society?

If you have children or grandchildren, would you allow them to play in this train steam engine, within the confines of a park playground?

From waves to a single California poppy for the WPC: Forces of Nature

My entry for this week’s Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge theme, Forces of Nature

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I took the above photograph after learning about “scale” in an earlier challenge. I think including the silhouette of the beach visitors adds to convey the vastness (and force) of the ocean, even in a small photograph.  What do you think?

Asilomar Coast  1 web

Asilomar Coast web

The WordPress Photo Challenge is truly a good way to improve photography skills, especially for an amateur and forever newbie like me, and to help with composition ideas.

I also started taking wave shots recently, and include these for the theme…

And a few weeks ago, while at a walk, I was struck by the persistence of this California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) to flower, even in a spot that looks unfavorable for growth.

Single Califiornia Poppy at railroad track Single Califiornia Poppy at railroad track 1

The poppy is the official state flower of California.  It is seen on scenic route signs and “welcome” signs along California highways.

Because this poppy is a state flower, it is illegal to collect it in the wild.  But, as you can imagine, if it can grow here along and in between the gravel filled railroad tracks, it is also easy to grow in gardens as it is drought-tolerant and self seeds.

California Poppy plant in bloom

California Poppy — plant in bloom by roadside, where nothing else is growing

When we lived in the East Bay, my daughter put out some seeds at the front of our home, and every year after that, California poppies showed up without fail during springtime.

More on the California Golden Poppy on Local Wiki, where they note “California Native Americans cherished the poppy as both a source of food and oil extracts”. and on an Arizona State University webpage  which includes information about these poppy plants and its traditional use “as a remedy for toothaches…and as tea for headaches”.

There is also an article on The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano about how to make a poppy tincture.  Who knew!

California Poppy in front of Colton Hall Monterey

California poppies, springtime blooms in front of Colton Hall, Monterey, California

California poppies — if you are not familiar with these flowers — are really bright and pretty, and so lovely to see blooming en masse wild in a field or valley.  Note: If you want to see more California poppy photos, please visit the post with spectacular photography by Jane Lurie.

One year, my older sister, my daughter, and I drove out to Point Reyes (North Bay) for a visit during spring to see the wild poppy blooms.

If you like seeing wildflowers, Point Reyes is a must visit during springtime, as there are over 800 species that grow there. More about Point Reyes, part of the National Park Service here.and see this poster to get a sampling of the wildflowers you can see at the Point Reyes National Seashore.

When my younger sister  (who now lives on the East Coast of the U.S., but lived in California for years) saw the orange poppies for my post on The Changing Season photo challenge, it made her miss the area.

I wonder if California poppies evoke similar feelings for others…and does a little flower count as a force of nature?

Asian Festival at Salinas Chinatown: Celebrating Chinese, Japanese, Filipino culture and preserving history

What warms this lola’s (grandmother’s) heart?  Seeing the next generation Filipino-Americans continue to learn and dance the “tinikling” at the Philippine Community Center — one of the venues for cultural performances at the 8th Annual Asian Festival in Salinas last month.

A popular Philippine folk dance, the tinikling originated in the island of Leyte and is named after the “tikling” bird.  The dance imitates the movements of the birds as they walk along branches and grasses, and how they get away from bamboo traps set out by rice farmers.

I remember trying this dance while in elementary school, and my worries of getting my feet caught (and smashed) in between the bamboo poles!

Filipino Folk Dancing Tinikling keep the beat

Little ones help to keep the dance rhythm by banging half coconut shells — and audience clapping / participation also helps to keep the bamboo pole holders timing as they slide and clang the bamboo poles for the dance.

The motion and footwork for the dances is also an entry for the WordPress photo challenge — though unfortunately, my camera settings produced a lot of photos also appropriate for the challenge theme of blur.

Note:  If you are interested in Philippine birding, see this article from Cornell Lab of Ornithology Getting familiar with Philippine Birds, including the “tikling” bird.  Excerpt with dance description:

In one of those convergences that make travel fascinating, we sat in a barnlike banquet hall at dinner and watched a local dance troupe perform the traditional Philippine tinikling, in which two people kneel and clap long bamboo poles together while dancers hop in and out of the poles in rhythm. The dance is named for tikling, the local term for a rail: dancers mimic the graceful, high-stepping gait of the bird as it walks through the marsh vegetation. In the Villa Escudero marsh the next morning, we saw several members of the Rallidae including Buff-banded and Barred rails, White-breasted Waterhen, White-browed Crake, and Watercock.

Aside from folk dancing, the festival is also a great place to sample authentic Chinese, Japanese and Filipino food.

At the Philippine venue, my favorite banana leaf wrapped item — the suman — as well as cassava cakes, puto, fried banana turons and halo-halo were among the choices for dessert.

But first, you had to get your chicken adobo, lumpia, pancit and rice combo packs…

The afternoon presentation at the Philippine venue showcased traditional Philippine formal wear featuring the Barong Tagalog — Filipino formal attire, and traditionally made of pineapple fabric or a type of fine abaca (musa textilis related to the banana plant) — and the changes throughout history in traditional women’s attire, influenced by over 300 years of the Spanish colonial era.

Philippine fashion show at Asian Festival 1

The malong garment — traditionally used by a number of ethnic groups in the Southern Philippines and the Sulu Archipelago — and its many variations was an interesting part of the fashion show.

A group of women who performed a folk dance earlier in the day also participated in the afternoon’s fashion show.

Filipino-American artist Elgene Ryan Tumacder was at the festival to exhibit some of his artwork…

Fil Am artist Elgene Ryan Tumacder at Asian Festival

You can see more of his work at the 2015 Capstone Festival, California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) on Friday, May 15th at the Visual / Public Art Buildings – 100 Campus Center, Seaside.

The exhibit by the Monterey Bay Chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) is a must see, especially if you are looking to learn more about the Filipino community’s history in the Monterey Bay / Salinas Valley, and Filipinos in the context of the history of the United States.

I also add two random photographs taken at the festival because 1) the Philippines’ most famous athlete Manny Pacquiao fought against Floyd Mayweather last weekend and 2) I love the Tagalog word “makulit” and spotted a little guy with the word on his T-Shirt.

Makulit means one who is stubborn, or annoyingly asks questions that have already been answered…and hopefully the “makulit” person is toddler aged, when they ask the same thing over and over, and not an adult, right?  Though you can call anyone, regardless of age MAKULIT.

This year, children representing the Chinese community also performed at the Philippine venue stage.  Their dance delighted the audience!

If you missed this year’s festival and want to learn more about the  history of Salinas Chinatown, you can visit the Asian Cultural Experience (ACE) Salinas website.

Virtual Walking Tour Salinas ChinatownWhile there, be sure to check out the site’s historical timeline feature.

The timeline starts with the California Gold Rush, then the arrival of Chinese workers recruited to build the transcontinental railroad, and later as laborers to drain lakes and swamps that created 500 acres of farmland in Salinas, to the arrival of Japanese and Filipino immigrants to work as farm laborers.

The timeline feature gave me a better understanding of the struggles of Asian immigrants, and their contributions to the modern-day agricultural wonder that is Monterey county.

Historical Timeline Salinas ChinatownThe ACE Salinas website also features an oral history archive, conducted by California State University Monterey Bay students and faculty, as well as video documentaries about Chinatown produced by professional filmmakers and film students.

Oral History Archive

Click HERE to visit the Oral History Archive main page and here for the Filipino Community oral history archives.

And to learn more about the Monterey Bay Chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society, click here.

I hope to see this festival continue grow in the coming years, and with the support of Monterey Bay residents, I believe it will.

WPC Motion 2: Always in motion

Kids seem to be always in motion…

Always in motion

Ball in motion

Photos from the box…scanned and now digitized :).  A favorite set of photos from when my daughter was around 8, and now she has 2 sons, one of whom is now also 8 years old!

I like that the photo captured the joy of just being a kid and running around the backyard, and the ball in motion, of course…

Post for the weekly WordPress Photo Challenge theme of Motion.

WPC: Vernal pond wildlife in motion

There is something about watching wildlife that can totally put one at ease…even if it is a quick visit to a local vernal pond to see common birds like mallard ducks or American coots…

Mallard Duck in motion 2

American Coot in motion

I recently started to take bird photographs.

Since I don’t have the right camera or lens for long distance shots, I am limited to the types of birds that are familiar with humans — the ones that don’t mind me being nearby with a camera — like the types that live at local ponds.

I like the colors of the birds and the water reflection, captured for these photographs.  The movement of birds and the rippling water conveys motion, the theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge.

Mallard Duck in motion 1

These ducks came right up to me looking for food when I arrived at the pond’s edge, so obviously, they are used to people giving them food.

I did not have any food for them, and after a few minutes, they went away and most went back in the water.

More about this pond at the Locke Paddon Community Wetland Park, Marina, California posted on the WordPress Photo Challenge Challenge Blur) .

Mr and Mrs Mallard Ducks in motion

Mallard Duck in motion

Birds at Locke Paddon Vernal Pond

Do you think people should feed ducks and other wildlife that live in our parks and local ponds?  Is it allowed where you live, or should feeding ducks (or pigeons, etc.) be banned?

WPC2: San Francisco “Afloat” at Sunset

My second entry for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme is “Afloat”.

I took this photo with my phone camera (then an HTC Evo 3D) from Treasure Island — a man-made island in the San Francisco Bay.

San Francisco night shot from Treasure Island web

It was a unique evening and sunset, with light that seemed to glow from behind the city of San Francisco, giving it a floating kind of feel.  I wish I had a camera aside from my phone camera that night, as there surely would have been some fantastic images from that evening.

Still….I’m happy I have this one, even if the image quality is lacking.

And a tip to photographer visitors to San Francisco, going across the Bay Bridge and taking the Treasure Island exit will give you some great shots of this beautiful “City by the Bay”.  You can see the Bay Bridge (lit at left on the photograph) and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge from Treasure Island.

WPC: Paddles and Spirit Afloat

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Afloat” — a theme that can be interpreted in a myriad of ways (as is usually the case for these challenges, and what makes it so fun to participate).

An obvious choice from my photo collection were kayaking shots.  I remembered my photograph of this group of stand-up paddlers heading out from Moss Landing in Monterey County, California…

Stand Up Paddlers web

I also had photographs of Jeff kayaking at nearby Elkhorn Slough.  One time, I asked when he thought he would get done, so that our grandchildren and I could meet him at the launch area.

web Jeff with the ever present Western Greebe 1

We spotted him from where he launched at Kirby Park…along with a grebe — a type of migrating water bird that also makes its home on the Pacific coast.

What is funny is the grebe seemed to always be near him, even as he paddled close to shore.

web Jeff and the ever present Western Greebe 1

web Jeff and the ever present Western Greebe

web Jeff and the ever present Western Greebe 2

What I like about these photos is that it captured a state of being happy…maybe feeling afloat, in the moment and free of any other distractions.

web Spirit Afloat with grandchildren 2

These photos to me reflect a literal “afloat” because of the kayak in the image, but more important is the spirit being afloat, of his joy at seeing our grandchildren after the kayak ride on the slough.

More about Elkhorn Slough on the post for the photo challenge theme “Depth” about the California King Tides Project (sea level rise).

WPC: Blur of wildlife and reeds at Locke-Paddon Wetland Community Park

I was waiting for a phone call from my younger sister and decided to walk around Locke-Paddon park in Marina (Monterey County, California). Waiting…waiting…and little camera in hand, I walked near the pond’s edge to photograph birds.

Mallard Duck

Locke-Paddon is a community park and one of the area’s “vernal” (seasonal) ponds.  The water level fluctuates but never dries out completely. The city library is located in this park, and the pond area is an easy destination for bird viewing.

There are many mallard ducks and American coot (below) that live in the pond, as well as birds who visit to drink and bathe.

What I found interesting in the series of photographs were the blur of reeds and vegetation against the water — perfect for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme from Michelle W:

This week, share a photo that’s a blur. You could keep your camera out of focus to achieve a blurry photo, or take a photo of something in motion. Or go in a different direction — capture an image of an experience that would otherwise be a blur, or of something in a state of flux.

Reed Blur 2

Reed Blur 5

The blur of colors could be interpreted as a painting, don’t you think?

For more information about the park, visit the Locke-Paddon page at the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District website, here.

I never did get the phone call…so I went home, only to find out my ringer was off, and I missed her calls.  I laughed and called her right back…and was happy to have interesting photos in my collection, all while “waiting”.

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 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: 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: 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.

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.