Tag Archives: daily post

Holiday Twinkle

My neighborhood is filled with light this time of the year.  Icicle lights hang from eves, nets of lights hang on shrubs, and I even noticed some new light sources projecting light on the walls of houses and words onto a garage.

Tonight, with peppermint hot chocolate in hand, we set off for a nighttime walk around the neighborhood to appreciate the twinkle of lights decorating the neighbors’ houses.  With only my iPhone as camera, I tried my hand at some night photography.  It’s pretty clear that I still have some work to do at improving in this area of photography.

I loved these lanterns hanging from a tree.  They seem to be a string of colored lights arranged in chicken wire.

colorful lantern

I had fun playing around with this snowman.  Using the app Big Lens, I was able to focus on the snowman and blur the background and then use a filter called snow to create a chilling effect! (And trust me, it’s not snowing here!)

snowy snowmanHere’s a version without the snow effect.


There are lots of colorful lights hanging from bushes, wrapped around palm trees, and outlining doorways.  Some flash, some blink, and some stay lit steadily.

colorful lights

There are elaborate displays…some reminiscent of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation…and others more serene like this one with two deer in lights.

deer in lights

And as much as I enjoy these twinkling holiday lights, I find myself drawn to nature’s twinkle of sun on water.  I am a sucker for a beautiful sunset…and take too many photos of them.  This one from earlier this week was particularly beautiful with the clouds hunched along the horizon.

sparkling sunset

And I love the twinkle of the clouds reflected in the still water of the lagoon after yesterday’s storm.  If you look closely you can see a ripple of the breeze along the water.

lagoon and clouds

As we head towards our shortest day, light becomes the focus of holiday celebrations.  I notice myself seeking out the light…looking for sunrises and sunsets, holiday light displays and candlelight.  There is something both calming and energizing about the light of late fall as we celebrate winter holidays.

What light draws your attention?  Where do you find the twinkle of light in your life?





When Conditions Converge

We aren’t hiking this week.  A sprained ankle (not mine) means no long beach walks and no hikes up hillsides.  But I was still itching for some photo opportunities…so we set off on an adventure this afternoon.

And without thinking the details through, we headed off toward a rest stop with an ocean view off the 5 past Camp Pendleton.  As we passed the last Oceanside exit, we noticed heavy traffic coming back toward the south and realized that turning back around toward home might be more complicated than we had considered.  As we pulled off onto the northbound rest area to take a look at the view, we thought we might have to go all the way to San Clemente to turn around and come back.

It’s interesting the way the dryness of the west and the blue of the ocean and the brilliant blue sky converge to create near summer-like conditions at the end of November.  I looked up and noticed this seagull sitting on a streetlight with the moon in the background.

seagull and moonAs we returned to the freeway, we were prepared for quite a drive ahead.  Lucky for us, there was one more offramp just a mile up the road that allowed us to access the southbound freeway.

freeway viewAfter creeping back in very slow freeway traffic for the three miles or so  back into Oceanside, we took the offramp off toward the harbor in search of the nearby pier.  With the short days of fall, the sun way already low in the sky.  And in spite of that (or perhaps because of it), the beach was teeming with people.  Surfers were thick in the water, families frolicked on the shore, tourists explored, and photographers were posing their subjects with the pier and beach as the perfect backdrop.  I headed under the pier, searching for the convergence of sunlight, shadow, pier pilings, and water.

sun through the pierWalking onto the pier we noticed this egret posed on the railing, outlined against the setting sun.

egretThe pelican seemed to be tame, unperturbed by all the amateur photographers and onlookers. At one point, the pelican noticed the small fish the fisherman had pulled up and extended its large wings and took flight…just as I pressed the camera shutter!

pelican in flightI couldn’t believe the numbers of fishermen on the pier.  I didn’t notice many fish, but there were fishing poles lined up all along the railing, some spread out and some gathered in small bunches.

fishing on the pierAs we headed out, the sun was low, washing a warm glow over the pier and palms…a perfect ending to an impromptu photographic adventure.  Conditions converged for a wonderful day!

pier and palms



Looking for Signs…

Six weeks into the school year with unseasonably warm temperatures…I find myself looking for signs of fall.  Southern California is not known for spectacular fall colors: the changing leaves, colorful gourds, and orange pumpkins decorating doorsteps.  Instead, I notice things like the orange and red kelp washed up by hurricane Simon off the coast of Mexico,

orange and red kelp

the orange beach umbrella near the lifeguard tower,

orange umbrella

and the golden sun highlighting the surfer atop the bigger than usual waves.

golden surfer

And I’m starting to see some even more exciting signs of fall…and of the writing community growing in my classroom.  Some signs are subtle, like students settling into writing without any urging from us and sticking with the writing for longer and longer periods of time.  There’s a willingness to share writing with one another and with the class as a whole…even from our shyer students.  And then there’s the risk-taking…trying out new strategies for revision and composition with independence and confidence.

This third grader uses her reflection notebook to write about a tool we use in class to help with revision.  It’s clear that she sees the value of revision for improving her writing…knowing writers, even good writers, have to work at improving their craft.

elke's reflection

It’s also fun to see students bring their voice to informal, reflective writing.  They are writers whenever they put words to a page…like this student describing something learned from reading a Scholastic News magazine,

reflectionand the student who began her reflection on a writing and art project with, “It all started when Ms Boyesen read us a book called Flashlight.”

Like the more obvious brilliant crimson leaves, sweet apple cider, and crisp autumn evenings that signal fall, these subtle signs in the classroom represent our growth as a community of learners and writers.  We are ready to dig in, to stretch ourselves as learners, and to learn from and with each other throughout the school year.

I have to look carefully for signs of fall in my place…they aren’t easily recognized by those looking for the gorgeous iconic images we see represented in the media.  The same is true in my classroom, looking carefully uncovers signs that might be overlooked otherwise.  The signs are there and I’m looking forward to the journey with these young writers.

What signs of a developing learning community are you seeing in your place?


Fall’s Nighttime Beach

As the season shifts from summer to fall

nighttime begins to stretch, lengthening shadows

and shortening the day

Light plays hide and seek with the sun and clouds

painting with colors only nature knows

seagulls in the blue light

seagull in soft light

The photographer frames the bride in the glow

of the setting sun

and she turns, and smiles washed in the soft warmth of the sinking sun

sunset bride

and the dog frolics, running the gauntlet of kelp

through the rivulets of salty water as the low tide starts to rise again

sunset dog

At the edge of nighttime, light creates silhouettes

shadowy outlines framed by light

a bicyclist

sunset bicycle

a seagull

seagull silhouette

As I head for home, the lights come on

darkness is near

stone steps lights

Those who play at the beach into the night

build their bonfires

and settle in

to enjoy

fall’s nighttime beach

sunset bonfire


Beach Humanity

There is something magical about the beach.  Ears filled with the roar of waves, the backbeat of rocks rattling as they tumble against each other in the surf, the distinctive whistles of the sandpipers, and the urgent calls of the seagulls as they oversee the beach.  Blues, greens, turquoise, and greys fill my eyes as they mix with the bright white of the foamy waves crashing. And there is the pervasive energy of play…beachside games of catch, pickup jumprope with kelp as the rope, surfers and boogie boarders, swimmers and waders, sand castle builders, mud throwers, walkers, runners, bike riders–I could go on forever!

Summer on the southern California coast teems with humanity.  Every square inch of sand seems to be claimed by an umbrella, beach chair, towel or shovel.  But I’m reminded that as September arrived, the mornings and nights belong to the locals.

Last night we made an impromptu trip to the beach, arriving in the afterglow of the sunset. The tide was low, bonfires already glowing, exercisers still working up a sweat in the cooler (but not yet chilly) evening temperatures.  A light mist had rolled in along the shore, a relief to the record-setting highs we have been experiencing.

I was playing with angles with my camera last night.  And noticed this child dragging kelp…I love the way that the beach provides its own toy chest.

kid with kelp

You can see the emptiness…and the beauty of the evening beach in this shot of my hubby walking on the slant and reflected in the wet sand.

night walk on the slant

As we walked back up toward the parking lot, this little girl was attracting a crowd as she lifted bubbles from her bucket.  In spite of the darkness, you can still see the colors in the bubble…and the littler children mesmerized as they watched the giant bubble float.

night bubble

This morning, with forecasted hot weather–even on the coast–and a busy schedule for the day, we headed back to the beach early…arriving shortly after 7am.  While the crowds hadn’t arrived yet, there were plenty of people enjoying the beach.

I noticed this man playing with his dog in the surf.  The dog joyfully chased the disk and returned it to the man each time he threw it, asking for one more time.

man with dog

I was even able to catch the dog in action as he ran in my direction, seeming to show me the great catch he had just made!

running dog

I noticed this mom playing with her baby in the surf.  The baby would kick his feet each time the mom lifted him up and then tipped his toes into the water.

mom with baby

As I walked on I noticed this little boy with two surfboards.  As I looked out into the waves I noticed a man (his dad) heading in to collect his board so they could head back out into the waves.  The beach is definitely a place for families.

boy with two surfboards

Towards the end of my walk I saw this guy fishing.  The water was warm this morning (more than 70 degrees) so the fisherman was comfortable in trunks as he cast his line.


There were others I wasn’t able to document with my lens, but noticed as I walked.  Couples walking with their coffee, the cute older couple with matching sun hats, exercise walkers with earbuds, runners staying above the waterline to keep their shoes dry, a father and daughter stretching before heading out with their boards, the older woman in her bikini, tennis shoes, and sun hat out for a walk, someone meditating with crossed legs and fingers touching…

One of my favorites things about the beach and the humanity that inhabits it, is that each person finds his or her own way of interacting with it.  You can wear a bathing suit, a wetsuit, shorts, jeans…or even a wedding dress.  Shoes are optional and are often seen in pockets, hanging over shoulders, or held in the hand.  You can sit, stand, lay, run, walk, jump, dance, catch, throw, search, dig, build, chase…the options are endless.

I have quite a collection of images of #beachpeople this summer as I’ve noticed and studied the humanity I find on the beach.  And what I know for sure is that most of them seem to come to the beach for fun, for pleasure, to escape the heat, the stresses of work…it is a place filled with play and playfulness.  Adults playing with children, adults playing with other adults…enjoying the water and sand with the joy many often leave behind with childhood.

The beach is a magical place.


Summer Lovin’: Hiking

Sweat, dust, steep trails, panoramic vistas, photo ops, heart pounding, more sweat, more dust…

Hiking has become my new favorite activity this summer, summer lovin’ for the Daily Post weekly photo challenge.  And in spite of feeling like I am going to die at some points, I’m enjoying the exertion, exploring the county with my hubby, and the amazing opportunities for photography.

Today was a tough one.  We headed off bright and early to avoid the heat…but not early enough.  An 8am start meant we ended our nearly 8 mile hike at noon, and it was hot!  The early morning light was beautiful as we headed out and we noticed a group of children fishing from the pier.

fishing dock

The trail definitely got more trying as we climbed and climbed.  We could see views of hikes we had done in previous weeks–and could also see that this one was longer and more strenuous. At one point, I thought I might have to stop and turn back.  But a rest at this tree almost two miles from the summit convinced me that I could muster the strength to go on.

Tree Mt WoodsonMaybe it was the shade, maybe it was the views…whatever it was, I continued to climb.  Dust clung to my sweat covered arms and legs, my hat provided some much needed shade, and regular stops for sips of water kept me going.  The trail was rocky, switchbacks zigzagging toward the summit.  We went through this boulder path as we neared the top.

Boulder path

I was surprised as we crested the summit to find a line of people waiting for a photo opportunity on “the chip,” an interesting rock formation near the top of Mt Woodson.  When the person got their “turn,” they would head out toward the end of the chip and pose while a hiking companion took their picture.  We didn’t wait in line, but I did get a few shots of the comedy of watching others.

Waiting for photo op Mt Woodson

But the chip isn’t quite the top of the mountain.  We continued up a fairly steep asphalt path to the pinnacle where all the communication towers jutted high above the peak.

Selfie Mt Woodson

There were also beautiful pine trees and amazing views of the valleys below.  And it was the perfect place to stop and rest a bit before heading back.  Here is picture of my husband with the breathtaking views behind him.

Geoff Mt Woodson

I thought it would easier heading down…and I was right for a good portion of the trip.  The rest at the top was energizing, and there were cool breezes up at the heights.  But it got a lot hotter and a lot harder as the lake came into view.

Lake Poway

At nearly 7 miles into the hike, our reserves of energy had run low and the noon-time heat was brutal.  The one more uphill near the end of the hike was excruciating!

And in spite of the challenges, I’m loving hiking this summer.  I love the time my husband and I spend out in the countryside exploring and testing our physical limits (he’s a much more experienced hiker than I am!).  I love testing the limits of my body…even when I am hating it! There is a wonderful camaraderie on the trail…and unexpected diversity of age, ethnicity, language, physical ability…with people cheering each other on.  And there are amazing numbers of people out hiking on weekends, at times these trails resemble our local freeways (without the road rage!).  I love the hours on the trail looking for interesting photos, noticing the wildlife (we watched a bird of prey float on the wind currents at the summit today…it seemed almost within arm’s reach) and the resilience of the drought resistant plant life.  We observed areas previously ravaged by fire returning to their natural beauty and places where nature is reclaiming what men tried to tame.  My next hike will be in Montana…I can’t wait!

What are you lovin’ this summer?




Contained by Containers?

I’m thinking about containers…at least in part because of the weekly photo challenge over at the Daily Post.  But I don’t want to limit myself to boxes and jars, those typical containers that we find around our homes and in our workplaces.  Instead I want to think about other uses for containers.  What capacities do they have?

Maybe like this skyride traveling high over the San Diego Zoo, containers can propel.  In this shot, my mom–with a tremendous fear of heights–decided to board the ride to quickly descend from one side of the zoo to the other.  She didn’t end up seeing any sights, her eyes were tightly closed throughout the whole scenic ride, but she did get to her destination!


And then there is my coffee cup from a trip to Starbucks the other day.  I took this photo because this is the first time anyone has ever managed to spell my first name wrong!  (Kim is not easily misspelled!)  But then again…it is also a reminder that there is always a first time to be surprised, to be misread, to be redefined.  And in defense of the barista, he has a family member who spells her name with the “y.”


In this photo, my container is the rear view mirror.  Stopped at a stop sign, in a line of traffic, I couldn’t help noticing the beauty of the ocean reflected in the mirror.  Instead of containing the reflection, it magnified and refracted the blues of the sky and the sea reaching into my heart and mind allowing me to relax in spite of the traffic, taking me away from the hustle and bustle of commuting into the wonder and majesty of the natural beauty around me.

rearview mirror

And so I find myself reminded about a conversation going on at the CLMOOC today about the containments/limitations/shallowness about many of the containers we use on the web.  How likes and plusses and hearts and favorites push us like a tide, more flow than ebb if we aren’t paying attention.  Stopping to consider our containers and the forces that move (or don’t move) them can change the quality of our experiences.  Maybe it is in our attention and in our interactions that we can reconsider and reinvent the containers.

What do you think?

Summer Enters, With a Twist

What is it about twisting and spinning that brings out the kid in all of us? spinner The Blossom Time Festival in Chagrin Falls, Ohio seems to be a celebration of the beginning of summer.  Memorial Day weekend, sunshine and mild temperatures, the smell of caramel corn, funnel cakes, and cotton candy…and the sound of the carnies enticing children and young men to win prizes filled the town. funnel cakes   carny This is iconic Americana, scenes from old movies and stories of days gone by.  Familiar yet unfamiliar as I watched people on a ferris wheel in the middle of town.  This county fair-like experience is different where I live.  Our fair has a specially designated space…more like an amusement park, where you pay admission and stay all day, separate from the daily goings on of the town. Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset I love this small town feel, walking in and out of local shops, peering over the railing at the natural waterfall in the center of town, licking an ice cream cone from the gourmet ice cream shop on the corner, and all the while noticing that the rides we like best all have something in common…they twist and turn, go up and down, slow and fast: scaring us, delighting us, and creating indelible images of childhood and summer. carousel And in this case, there was the added twist…a hot air balloon rally!  I’ve seen hot air balloons before–they take off not far from my house–but it has always seemed more like an industry, a sight-seeing opportunity rather than sport.  But here, as part of the festival, people gathered to watch the hot air balloons fill and rise, racing off in the still-light evening…it stays light here quite late…filling the sky with color and energy and excitement.  Welcome summer! up in a balloon

Monumental: Old and New

I love the complexity and juxtapositions of urban spaces.  They are crowded, often teeming with tourists, business people, and very often, the down and out.  Downtowns are an amalgam of old and new, history and current events, a place where wealth and poverty rub shoulders.

I’ve noticed this in my hometown, in big cities like San Francisco, New York City, Chicago…and I saw it again today in downtown Nashville, TN.  Music City.  Downtowns have their own personality.  Some are all about food, some all about architecture, and some, like Nashville, are all about music.  Live music poured from bars and restaurants…even before noon.  Guitars and banjos were prevalent, and street performers were also in evidence.  There were the requisite bars on every corner and tucked into alleys and happy hour seemed to start early on this warm Friday afternoon.

And today I was especially tuned in to the contrast between the old and new.  New (ish) restaurant chains occupied historic buildings…and springing up in the background were shiny, reflective, skyscrapers.

old and new nashville

And in some instances, the new buildings seemed to emerge from the top of the shorter, older ones.  Almost like they were grafted on, breathing new life into an older, more classic and established host.  (Isn’t that how it works with fruit trees?)

springing up nashville

And while taking a photo of the Ryman Auditorium, I noticed that the more interesting shot was the reflection of the auditorium in the facade of the glass of the building across the street.  A reflection of the past in the shine of the present?  A mirror of the interconnections of history and current events?

Ryman reflection

There is something monumental about this juxtaposition of the past and the present, the intermingling of history with life today.  The present keeps the past alive and relevant…the past keeps the present grounded and forward thinking as it reminds us all to learn from history.

And then there is the river…the powerful force that gives us energy and life, and if we are not careful, takes both away.  Downtowns always seem to be close to water too.  Maybe water is the true monument.

river in Nashville

Going Beyond Either/Or (Threes)

Black or white, the fork in the road, Republican or Democrat, male or female, smart or dumb, phonics or whole language, cats or dogs, tea or coffee, win or lose, right or wrong…  the list goes on, always focused on choosing one of two choices.

Why are we so drawn to these dichotomies?  And do they actually serve us in any positive way?

I often feel that these forced either/or choices close down conversations and limit the options and possibilities that would exist if we broadened the conversation to include more gray area, pathways between the two opposites typically posed.

What would happen to our country if our political system worked to solve pressing issues without regard to political party?  And what would happen in our schools if instead of classifying students as high or low achieving, we paid more attention to students’ strengths and interests and piqued their natural curiosity?  What if there were more options for success?

So when I saw the weekly photo challenge at the Daily Post today, I looked for a photo that not only met the challenge of threes, but also worked as a metaphor for me about moving away from these all-too-common dichotomies.  (In a footnote to this, after reading the threes prompt more closely, I see that I re-interpreted it before noticing the invitation to tell a three picture story.  I may be trying that in the next couple of days!)

I took this photo today from a bridge over a freeway leading to downtown San Diego.  I like the way you can see three distinct paths curving toward the city in the distance.  It’s interesting to me because I know that the freeway has southbound and northbound lanes…but at this juncture, there is a third route.  I love the idea of including additional options, of getting a more complete picture, of considering a bigger understanding of the story.


I’m not suggesting that three is the answer…we do enough with the ideas of high, medium, and low…but three does suggest getting beyond either/or thinking, making it at least a starting place for expanding the conversation.

What image would you chose to represent going beyond standard dichotomies?  How do you get yourself to go beyond the binary?