Monthly Archives: October 2015

Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange

October is nearly over and the weather has finally cooled a bit, so I’m starting to feel the fall vibe in the air.  And I’m noticing tones of orange in my photos.

Just yesterday when I took a calming after-work walk on the beach, I saw this guy on a very large tractor creating a big berm along the shore to protect the beach from the fall and winter tides.

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And with the sun setting earlier (I know, next week will be crazy dark with the time change back to standard time…it will be dark before I get home from work!), I’m noticing the golden orangish glow of the sunset too.

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Over the weekend I was in Alabama (celebrating my mother-in-law’s 89th birthday) and got to spend some time in the local mountains exploring the changing leaves…the reds, golds, oranges…

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A visit to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens brought me eye to eye with this wonderful Halloween blossom of orangish and black!  (I have no idea what its true name is, but I love the slightly crumpled look of it.)

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Here’s another orange beauty from the gardens.

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And we’ve been studying the monarch butterflies that inhabit the garden box outside our classroom.  Like my students, I am fascinated by this beautiful orange and black wonder.  This guy put on quite a performance today, showing off its proboscis as it sipped from the milkweed blossoms…and it posed patiently for me to snap a few shots with my phone.

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So as October ends, head out with your camera and take a look for orange.  What will you find?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #orange for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

I can’t wait to see all the orange that you find as you explore your world this week through your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Something I Learned this Week

I’m lucky.  As a classroom teacher I have opportunities for learning all the time…from my students, out in the community, from my colleagues, with my “colleagues at a distance” (on MOOCs and social media), …and at home, from my family…  I am surrounded by learning.

On Thursday, we had the opportunity to take our students to the local waste water treatment plant.  We’ve been studying water (something we don’t have enough of here in San Diego!) and have a parent in our class who happens to be the deputy mayor in our community.  She was eager to make the connection between the study of the properties of water and the water cycle and the municipal responsibilities of getting water to our taps and then treated as the water heads back out into nature’s cycle.  So when she asked if we’d like to have her arrange a field trip to the water treatment plant just a couple of miles away, we were eager to go.

And even more fun, the water plant manager and the other employees were delighted to have us visit.  They had us break into three groups and then took us on a tour of the plant, carefully explaining and describing all the processes in the treatment cycle.  We started at the huge digester tanks, filled with the solid waste being cleaned by natural occurring microorganisms.  We learned that the temperature of the tanks is about the same as our body temperature when we have a fever…up to about 102 degrees.

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After spending 15 days in the digester, the now activated sludge is sent through a process that separates the water from the solids.  We watched the belts squeeze out the water and send the dry activated sludge into a truck to be hauled off to Arizona where it is used as fertilizer for livestock crops (alfalfa and the sort).

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We saw the big overflow tanks…where waste water collects under these big sheets (the water you can see on top is some accumulation as the result of the rain we got last week).  There is an inflow of 3 million gallons a day!  (And they have a duplicate tank just in case there is a problem with one–they explained the importance of redundancy to keep the operation moving.)

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After than, we got to walk through the lab…and take a peek at all the science equipment in use. We noticed test tubes and vials, everything scientists need to test hypotheses, collect data, and carefully examine what is going on with the water they care for.  We also got to see samples of the different stages of water cleaning.  (They use a three-part process to get water to the recycled stage)  Dale carefully explained each step in the water cleaning process to our young students.

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We learned about the way that air is used to clean water…and watched the water bubble with the air pumped through it.

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And this student was enthralled with all she was learning…she took pages and pages of notes in her little reporters notebook.  (She proudly announced that she filled 17 pages!)

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I hadn’t thought about the technology of keeping odors at a minimum, but this space ship looking thing cleans smells from the air before it goes back into the air.

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Once water goes through the primary, secondary, and tertiary processes, it gets to the recycled water state…for use in landscaping and on golf courses.  This stage flows into the purple pipes that carry this water throughout our community, but at the plant the water flows through these white pipes that will eventually meet up with the purple ones!

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And whatever recycled water is not needed for the purple pipes is piped out into the ocean, joining the salt water and becoming part of our natural water cycle once again.  The ducks have decided that this is a great place to hang out…right across the street from the lagoon!  I think they see this place as their own private spa!

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So…what have you learned this week?  Maybe it’s a longer story of a particular place…or a snippet that caught your fancy and taught you something new.

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #learning for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

I’m looking forward to learning from you this week…pinpoint something you learned this week and share that learning with the rest of us through your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: In Search of the Ordinary

This week has been about looking for interesting, ordinary subjects for my photography.  I’ve been attentive to my surroundings, considering angles and frames as I look around.  This morning I was out on playground duty when the water fountain caught my eye.  I see this water fountain all the time, but today I saw it in a new way as I noticed the beads of water from the heavy, moist air.  I leaned in and took this shot.

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And even before that, as I chatted with the early arriving students in my classroom, I looked down at the floor and noticed this enormous moth!  It was bigger than my outstretched hand…and in retrospect, I should have framed my shot including something to give a sense of size perspective.  But I do love the wing detail that is evident in this view.

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I took the long way to my UCSD office this afternoon, noticing the detailed architecture of the buildings in the distance.  But my detour took me to a patch of mushrooms, a wall of fall-colored ivy…and then I looked up and noticed the angles of this eucalyptus (and a break in the cloudy gloominess of the sky, framing the branches in brilliant blue!).

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As I headed back to my car for my trip home, the sea of cars in the parking lot below where I parked caught my eye.

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Earlier in the week I couldn’t fight the urge to pull over to the side of the road to capture the beauty of the ocean and the sky on my way home from school.  The sun and the clouds and the sea and the train tracks created the perfect composition as the truck drove by.  (Feels like a perfect truck commercial!)

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And trains and train tracks are a constant in the coastal communities here.  We can hear them from school and frequently have to stop and wait as the train rushes past.  I don’t always get a front row view…but I did for this one!

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So go out into your everyday life in search of the ordinary.  What catches your eye?  You might have to kneel down, lean in, or stop and turn around to notice those things that you see everyday.  Try a new angle, look for different lighting, or pay attention to what a child or a pet notices. I’m sure you’ll find something magnificently ordinary!

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #ordinary for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

I can’t wait to see what you find through your lens when you take some time to search for the ordinary!

Is a Happy Place Always Happy?

Every so often we take a walk down memory lane and head 70 miles north to visit the happiest place  on earth…that’s right, Disneyland.  As someone who grew up in southern California, I have been going to Disneyland since I was a small child and my father’s military status got us in at reduced costs.  (My father never went after his first visit, but my mother took us regularly–especially when relatives visited from out of state.)  And yes, I even spent my honeymoon in the Magic Kingdom.

My husband loves to visit Disneyland during the fall when the park is decked out in all its Halloween finery…after all, his birthday is on Halloween.  So since we had a weekend off, we headed to Disneyland on Saturday–in spite of the predictions of record high temperatures–to enjoy the park, rides some rides, watch some parades, and view some fireworks.  We started early and stayed late…all in the name of fun!

Disneyland is constantly changing–and some things never change, like the French Quarter in New Orleans Square where we headed after our first few rides (and lines) for a cool mint julep and Micky-shaped beignets.

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But like an evil twin or a twisted pair, this happy place also has an ugly underside.  There are long lines–in spite of fast passes and a handy app that tells you the wait time for each ride, rides that break down just as you get to the front of the line (Space Mountain and the Matterhorn!), rides that pause for no apparent reason (we heard it was to accommodate handicapped visitors), expensive food and drink, and the grumpiness that comes from a long day in the hot sun, in long lines, with unexpected frustrations.

But maybe the lesson is to temper your happy place with a dose of patience.  Waiting in line allows time for chatting with strangers.  There is also ample time for people watching.  There are opportunities to observe every possible parenting style–from the threats and bribes and incessant cajoling to the offering of limited choices and clear expectations.  And then there are the various clothing choices–the families in matching T-shirts (some with clever numbers and nicknames), every variety of Disney character shirt from every decade, and some indescribable get-ups from scanty to absurd.  (And who knew that Dooney and Burke made a Star Wars leather satchel?)

I did find my patience tested–and it required effort on my part to stay even-tempered and polite.  But those qualities were also rewarded.  Somehow, along the crowded Main Street, we found ourselves in perfect position to watch the daytime parade.

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Drummers set the rhythm as we all sang along to M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E.  Then there were the chimney sweeps dancing to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins,

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swirling skirts,

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and Peter Pan up close and expressive!

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And sometimes standing in a ride line resulted in a picture perfect shot of the Matterhorn in the sunlight,

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or a free choice fast pass as compensation for the ride breaking and us waiting out the minor repair until it became major.

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And even though we were tired, it was fun to watch the night light up with dancers attired in neon that swirled and twirled–creating such fun photos,

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and capped with a display of spectacular fireworks, projections on buildings…and even snowfall on an evening that was still 86 degrees at 10pm in mid-October!

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I had fun and I was exhausted.  There were spectacular sights and episodes of commercialism and overindulgence that made me cringe.  I revisited the past and peeked into the future, and still wonder how this place will accommodate more visitors when it is already crowded beyond belief!

I enjoyed my Disneyland trip on Saturday…but I won’t need to return for a while.

So, can one place be a twisted pair?  And is your happy place always happy?