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?

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 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 – Background

The WordPress Weekly Photo challenge is a tough one this week with Pick’s challenge to …

 share a picture that says In the Background.

This is the photo I got —-

Philippine Flower in the Background rd

though my intent was to take the photo below…

Philippine  Flopwer rd

Close up of flower from the Philippines

I’m not sure what happened, if it was a breeze that blew a leaf on top while I was photographing, or a double exposure.  Any thoughts from photographers — professionals or newbies (or perpetual beginners like me) —  out there in the WordPress community?

Click here to see interpretations of the theme and creative submissions from other bloggers…

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme Escape…escaping into a human sized nest?

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

Many of us have an abundance of scenic photographs and of escaping out….

I also thought about escaping in, and remembered these photographs I took of a human sized nest made from tree branches at the Big Sur Spirit Garden, after a visit to the Big Sur Bakery.

Big Nest Escape rd

What do you think?  Would you want to have one in YOUR garden or backyard…lots of pillows, cozy blankets (they custom make these for one…or for two or more people).

Or is this type of structure just for birds?

Big Nest Escape outside rdI photographed this “fence” this morning during a walk.   A fence that is not very helpful in preventing an escape, or a break in…

Broken Fence rdk Sometimes the only escape you need is actually an escape into the present…it sounds counter intuitive, but maybe the best kind of escape from the mundane is to truly engage with someone, a family member, or an activity.

Aquarium Escape

My grandson Jun when he was about 4, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Related links (click on the photo to link to the website)


Real birds in nest — see the Local Nomad’s new post Spring has Sprung, hereTwo Pacific Slope Flycatchers (I think of them as Fiona and Fritz)….”

Big Sur Spirit Garden NestBig Sur Spirit Garden’s Spirit Nest, here

treebones-nest big sur

You can rent a human nest for the evening (and yurts too!) at Treebones Resort in Big Sur

Weekly WordPress Challenge: Resolved — to capture the details

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge from Sara Rosso:

Resolved. This is that time of year, isn’t it? Full of resolutions and good intentions… …Why not share a photo which represents one of your New Year’s resolutions? If you don’t make them, what about sharing a photo which represents something you’d like to get better at in photography this year?  Share a picture which means RESOLVED to you!

My first post for 2013 and what I resolve to do to get better at photography this year is to capture more details.

I love taking photographs and have photographed landscapes and people — mostly my family members, whether they liked it or not — since I had my first 110 Instamatic Kodak camera as a young teen.

These days, with our smart phones, we all always have a camera no matter where we go — capturing the world around us. The photos below were from my HTC phone camera the week of Christmas, during a visit to gardens of the adobe-and-wood Larkin House, built in 1835 in Monterey, California.

I liked the design of the iron water well cover…

This normally would have been enough detail, but this time, I came in closer.

The close up shot resulted in seeing an interesting reflection of the well cover design from the water below.

To get an idea of the well size, here is a photo of my sister and brother-in-law sitting at the edge of the well.  In the past, this would have been my only photo of the well…so, a big improvement so far!

Details, and a lot more up close photographs are my goals for my 2013 photographs!

Larkin House Fence


photo from www.HistoricMonterey.org

The Larkin House was built byThomas Oliver Larkin — the only U.S. consul to California under Mexican rule.  The home became the American consulate from 1844 to 1846, and  also used as military headquarters by Kearny, Mason, and Sherman.

Both a National and a California Historical Landmark, the Larkin House is reportedly the first two story house in all of California, and combined Spanish Colonial building methods with New England architectural features.  It also originated the popular Monterey Colonial style of architecture, which features two stories, porches, a hip roof, and adobe walls.

For more information on the Larkin House, visit HistoricMonterey.org or the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s Larkin House webpage here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

This week’s photo challenge — Free Spirit — is guest hosted by Strauss Louw. 

I chose this as the topic for this week’s photo challenge as it lends itself to so many possibilities for subject matter and composition….click here to view post

Most of us have known free spirits — or maybe we were once free spirits.  Somehow, as adults, I feel we don’t let this spirit of freedom “out” anymore, for fear of looking odd or silly.  And sometimes, we even say goodbye to this spirit, and we let it leave us.

It is another thing with  children though….they seem to all embody this free spirit.  Here are photographs of my grandsons, Jun and Gabriel, which I think capture this theme.  I hope they  keep this spirit of freedom and lightness well into old age.

A stick, sunshine,and sand in between your toes…what else do you need for a happy, free spirit day?

At first, my grandchildren try to outrun the waves, but later, give in to to enjoy the water — even though the water in our part o the Pacific ocean is rather cold.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge – the river merging with the sea

Here is my submission for the WordPress weekly photo challenge on the topic, merge.

Not fancy, simply nature, and the river merging with the sea.  Photos from the rocky shores of an island in the central Visayas region, Philippines.

Paddling the banka – outrigger boat — and passing the area where the river merges with the sea.

Bringing in fish catch

And so far, here are interpretations from other bloggers on the theme, merge

  1. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Figments of a Dutchess
  2. Weekly Photo Challenge – Merge | Just Snaps
  3. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « Flickr Comments
  4. Weekly Photo Challenge – Merge | Chittle Chattle
  5. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Lonely Travelog
  6. weekly photo challenge : merge | bodhisattvaintraining
  7. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Bams’ Blog
  8. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Wind Against Current
  9. Travel Challenge;Merge « So where’s the snow?
  10. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | My Sardinian Life | La Mia Vita Sarda
  11. Weekly Photo Challenge: MERGE | eagerexplorer
  12. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « warmhotchocolate
  13. (Sub)merging « Broken Light: A Photography Collective
  14. Merge on Panoramic « bukaningrat ™
  15. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « Gary Ng © Gnostec Photography
  16. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « e-Shibin
  17. Photo Challenge: Merge « Detours by Deepali
  18. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « Sin Polaris
  19. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge – Joy and Woe
  20. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Cardinal Guzman
  21. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « All Access Pass
  22. Weekly Photo Challenge – Merge « The Urge To Wander
  23. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « Wilderness Escapades
  24. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « What’s (in) the picture?
  25. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « Mike Hardisty Photography

About rattan and difference between rattan and bamboo plants

Rattan (Calamus) is sometimes mistaken for bamboo.  There is a big difference — bamboos are in the grass family of plants, and rattans are among the hundreds of types of palm plants.

Rattan canes are solid, while bamboos are hollow.  Both plants are used for making furniture, and strips of bamboo and rattan are also woven into wicker baskets and other handicrafts.

Wicker is the generic term for a woven fiber (usually natural plants), woven into functional items.

The theme for this week’s photo challenge at the WordPress Daily Post — WRONG — is a tough one!  I settled on my rattan photos.

My sister and I bought rattan rocking chairs for our mother while in the Philippines.  The group selling the chairs and rattan handicrafts grew rattan plants nearby and I  took a few shots, and focused on the rattan spikes.

So what is wrong with this rattan?

Rattan – Calamus, Philippines

It may be obvious to you now, but at the time, I did not notice that it had been hacked into, until I downloaded the photos.  I thought…oh no..my detail shot is marred and the palm was cut (though I was happy to see that it continued to grow).

Upon cropping the photo and looking at it closer…it looks like only the leaf frond was cut.  So it was I — who was wrong!

Close up of spikes – Rattan palm. Rattan plants have spikes to help it climb over other plants — like vines — and to deter animals from eating the plant.

So….the rattan palm continues on its growth and travel upwards.

Some rattan can grow over 150 feet!

Can you follow the source of this rattan….from the top left corner to the bottom right, leading to the half-constructed “Nipa Hut”? More on the “Nipa Hut” at the end of the post…

Fresh strips of rattan

Rattan canes and strips, stored in the ceiling area of the workshop — I love the pattern of the ceiling, from the woven palm leaves.

Kitty napping on a well-used, woven rattan chair.

Rattan Seedlings – propagation of rattan is only possible from fresh seeds.

Most of the world’s rattan grow in Indonesia, followed by the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Bangladesh.  Rattans help the overall ecosystem of forests, and unsustainable harvesting can be a problem.

We noted — at least in the area where we bought the rocking chairs — locals working with government programs to replant rattan in the area, and to help create a future plant and material source for the local handicraft industry.


And a note about Nipa Huts:

A Nipa hut, also called “bahay kubo” is a type of traditional Philippine stilt house.  Bahay Kubo translates to cube house, and kubo means cube in English.

The name “Nipa Hut” came during the American colonial era.— named after the thatched nipa palm fronds used for the roof.  Nipa hut photos below from the late 1800’s via the Gutenberg website.

native philippine hut late 1800sSmall, very basic Nipa Hut above, and below, image from inside of another type of nipa hut.

inside of native hut via gutenberg dot org

tuba gathering from coconut tree

Nipa hut behind man climbing coconut tree to collect “tuba” — coconut sap wine.  Hollow bamboo tubes are used to contain the wine.  Images  from the book “The Philippine Islands” by Ramon Reyes Lala. It was published in 1898 by the Continental Publishing Company.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth (gardens and grandsons)

This theme for last week’s photo challenge and blogging experiment at the Daily Post is GROWTH.   And nothing can convey growth to a grandmother, like me, as much as seeing how quickly my grandsons grow.

As most grandparents will tell you, having grandchildren is a whole lot different from raising your own children.  For one thing, our age — and being on the finish line side of the aging spectrum — makes you focus on what is really important.  Plus, life’s experiences makes me more relaxed about, well… life in general.

It’s not that I am less busy…I am not yet retired, and am also growing a small business. It is more that I filter out — at least I try to — things that will not bring joy and value to my time.  And the time that I value the most, is time with loved ones, and most especially my young grandsons.

Here are some of my favorite garden and growth related photos of my two favorite little men.  They are now 5 and 7, but still little, for now…

Gabriel helping his Lola water plants

More water please, Lola!

Gabriel then shorter than the potted tomato plant

Jun among daisy flowers

This last photo I took at Elkhorn Slough — and is among my favorite photograph of the two little men.

“I am spending delightful afternoons in my garden, watching everything living around me.  As I grow older, I feel everything departing, and I love everything with more passion”  French writer Emile Zola (1840 – 1902)

Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Inside #2 – Window to SF, Art Deco Treasure Island Building

Just in case I offended anyone from my 1st post — and food theme — of the Pacific / King Salmon for the Daily Post Photo Challenge “Inside”, here is a view of San Francisco, looking from inside of a building in Treasure Island.

Part of the San Francisco Skyline, with the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge to the left

Treasure island is a man-made island in the San Francisco Bay, and the building where the photo was taken, was originally built for the Golden Gate International Exposition.

The Art Deco structure was constructed 1938 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Safe?  I will have to be more sensitive to cultural differences…

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – Movement in Tae Kwon Do class

If you have read my blog over the last year, you know that topics close to my heart are related to the environment and conservation, as well as poverty and the Philippines (where I am originally from).  I can’t help it…I’m a grandmother deeply concerned about the state of the planet and what we are leaving behind for our grandchildren.  I feel compelled to learn about, and post articles on these topics.

These posts can often be depressing…which is why I look forward to the WordPress Photo Challenge from the Daily Post.  It gives me an opportunity to think about and share photos which I would not normally think to post on my blog.

This week, the theme is “movement”.  I thought about the photos I have from my grandsons’ Tae Kwon Do classes, and how frustrating it is — for me at least — to have a good “movement” or as I interpret this theme, an “action” type shot.

I have probably spent hundreds of hours taking my grandsons to Tae Kwon Do practice, often with camera in hand.  Though I love taking photos — and have taken photographs since I was a teenager, I am still a beginner.

Soon, I will elevate my photography to the next level…meaning, get a more professional camera and actually read the technical manual!

For now though, here is my submission for the “movement” photo challenge – with the theme Tae Kwon Do.

Here are some captures to give a feel for the classes:

Practicing “Poomse” movements at Tae Kwon Do class

Youngest Tae Kwon Do classes for 3 1/2 to 5 years old. My younger grandson is the little guy at the end with a white belt, looking at his Lola (grandmother) Jane, instead of listening to Master Lee.

Students enjoy playing dodge ball, after Tae Kwon Do class.  You can see the ball at the lower right hand side.

Board breaking at Tae Kwon Do belt promotion test

Sparring during Tae Kwon Do promotion test

So….despite the countless photos I have taken at Tae Kwon Do practice…I don’t have a  good photo of my grandchildren, breaking a board for promotion test, etc.

I did capture shots I liked…not of the grandsons, but of one of the instructors, Mr. Yates, doing a demonstration, at a promotion test.

Setting up concrete blocks

Alas! Captured a good “movement” shot

And as far as the best “movement” shots of my grandchildren at Tae Kwon Do….well, that is left to Monterey Bay professional photographer Ricky Cabalza.  Here are his photographs of my grandsons.

Photos by Ricky Cabalza – www.out2focus.com

Photo by Ricky Cabalza – www.out2focus.com

Professional photographers like Ricky Cabalza can coax and capture a fierce look, even from 4 and 7-year-old little guys.

If I had asked my grandsons to pose for something similar to the photo below, they would most likely make goofy faces at me, and probably stick their tongues out as I clicked the camera button.

Photos by Ricky Cabalza – www.out2focus.com

My other weekly photo challenge submissions are “Surfer-in-Training”, and the Philippine transportation method for the theme fleeting moment on the street — the “put-put” on NativeLeaf.info last week, as well as weaving hands on a prior photo challenge theme, also at NativeLeaf.info’s blog section.

Did you know that Tae Kwon Do is the national sport of South Korea?  It is also considered the most popular martial arts based on the number of practitioners world-wide (estimated at over 70 million in 190 countries),  and has been an Olympic event since 2000. 

Surfer in training

I am starting my week by participating in the Weekly Photo Challenge: Blue — a blogging experiment from The Daily Post at WordPress.com.

If I had to file every single photograph I own under colors, the top 2 colors would be green and blue.  The green file would contain lush green Philippine scenery and nature photos.  A close second would be a “blue” photograph file. The color blue for me, aside from the blue sky, means the ocean.

Santa Cruz, near where we live, recently received international recognition as a World Surfing Reserve.   Santa Cruz joins just 3 other spots in the world — Malibu, California, Manly Beach in Australia and Ericeira in Portugal — for this exclusive list.  Read more from The Blog Aquatic, here.

This surfing news and the color blue challenge reminded me of these photos I took of my grandchildren Jun and Gabriel watching surfers — including their mommy taking surfing lessons — at a beach in Pacifica (close to San Francisco in northern California).

After a good hour of this, then 3-year-old Gabriel, decided that a waterlogged driftwood would make a nice practice “surfboard”.

What do you think?  He looks like a natural to me, but that is just a lola (grandmother) talking…