Tag Archives: ocean

Splash

Water. There is something about the sound of a splash, waves curling with foam before crashing onto the shore, the white noise of the ebb and flow of tides that brings a calm and focus to my brain, causing connections to build, ideas to generate, understandings to emerge.

Maybe it is the smell, briny molecules that tickle my nostrils.  Cool, damp. Particles searching for their polar opposites, sticking together, forming droplets that create a film on my skin, a chemical change that soothes not only the body but also the soul.

Could it be the walking that makes the difference? Putting one foot in front of the other, the bipedal motion integrating the hemispheres of the brain, breathing in and out, swinging arms in rhythm. Or is it the combination of water, walking, and fresh air that energize the mind, replenish the spirit, and allow for creative thinking and problem solving?

As I walk the shore my eyes search the horizon, taking in the blues and greens and all the shades of white.  I notice the ripples in the sand under my feet, the tiny bean clams sitting up on end partially buried, the uneven terrain of pools and islands revealed as the tides pull the water back.  Seagulls squawk, shouting directions and warning to their kin,  Sandpipers whistle their concerns.  Pelicans dive and float, soar and scan, only to dive again.  Children scream and squeal as they race into and out of the water.

In all of this commotion, there is stillness and space.  I breathe deeply, taking it all in.

Splash.

egret silhouette

 

The Trick of the Treat

For the first 20+ years of our married life we celebrated my husband’s Halloween birthday either by taking our sons out trick-or-treating or answering the door to hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood (or both).  For the last decade or so, we’ve carefully avoided trick-or-treaters by planning dinner out and have learned to linger over our food and enjoy the mostly empty restaurants on Halloween evening.

This year, it seems we have been celebrating all month.  We headed off to Disneyland earlier in October (see here), spent last weekend in Alabama with his family, and yesterday set off for an adventure on Catalina Island (about 26 miles offshore from southern CA).  To make this treat less of a trick, this year Halloween fell on a Saturday.  We’d talked about exploring Catalina for a while now…and when we learned that the boat ride over is free on your birthday, it seemed like the perfect solution to our Halloween/birthday celebration dilemma–we turned the trick into a treat!

We headed out from Long Beach and were accompanied by playful dolphins as we neared Avalon.  They jumped and dove, surfing the wake of the boat.  I wasn’t able to take any decent photos, but the view was majestic…and unforgettable!  We arrived in the Avalon harbor to a beautiful, warm and sunny day making the blues brilliant and the whites crisp as you can see in this unedited photo.

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After breakfast we climbed into a military hummer for a tour of the interior of the island.  We maneuvered over rocky, dusty, steep unpaved roads as we explored the history and the topography of the island.  We learned about the native plants and animals, the conservation efforts, and how they are dealing with the drought.  And the views were breathtaking!

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You can see San Clemente Island in the distance, almost seeming to float on the sea.  The sky was so clear we could see for miles!  We also took in the prickly pear as well as other native plants, and learned about the Catalina fox and the bald eagle–both which faced near extinction on the island and are now recovering.  We also learned about the only non-native animal on the island, the buffalo, brought originally by a Hollywood movie maker at the turn of the century and then encouraged by the Wrigley’s who owned the island.  In its native beauty, the island is spectacular, now mostly owned by a conservancy that protects and maintains its natural state.

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Hot and sweaty from our time in the back country (it was an 85 degree day!), we treated ourselves to some ice cream and spent some time exploring the city of Avalon.  The iconic building is the casino, but it isn’t a gambling hall, it is the home of a movie theater, a small museum, and we hear…a magnificent dance floor.  We hoped to go inside, but alas, it closed quite early on a Saturday.  We did explore the outside.

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We spent some time watching the divers who enter and exit the water from behind the building.  While I was watching them, I noticed a couple in what seemed to be brilliantly colored wetsuits (most wetsuits are black).  As they swam up, I noticed that the Hulk and Aquaman (I think) were emerging from the sea…and was ready to snap a few shots as they headed for dry land. They were definitely diving in the Halloween spirit!

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Further exploration led us to discover the local radio station, this small green building.  We also talked to a woman who has resided on the island for 45 years and was eager to close her shop and accompany her grandchildren to the Halloween parade.

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As we got ready to head back to Long Beach, we came across a friendly pelican who was more than willing to pose for photos.  I took a number of shots and managed to snap this one as the pelican took flight.

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As the sun began to set, we said good bye to Avalon and headed back to the mainland.

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This adventure was quite a treat and a fun way to celebrate Geoff’s birthday.  By the time we returned home, the trick-or-treaters were back home sorting their haul and we enjoyed a spectacular Halloween filled with wonder and play.  Now the big question…how do we top this for next year?

Symbols of Place and Noticing Systems: A Photo Essay

Some places are instantly recognizable by symbolic landmarks…the Golden Gate Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building…even the reflective bean (I don’t know its official name, but I know where it is), the London Eye, St. Louis’s arch or the Space Needle.  What systems allow us to know those symbolic places without having visited?  Systems of communications, news, arts…  Some I know firsthand, some I know from watching TV, movies, seeing art exhibits, social media, and more.

But when I think of my place, I can’t imagine what large landmark people unfamiliar with my place would immediately recognize as San Diego.  But there is this large body of water that extends along the western border of our place…the Pacific Ocean.

Most days I notice the ocean from the vantage of the land, looking over cliffs, walking in the surf along the shore, looking below as I cross a bridge or stand on a balcony above.  But over the weekend I had the opportunity (thanks Joe and Katie) to step aboard a beautiful sailboat and view the ocean, and discover local symbols and landmarks from a different vantage.

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A week or more of heavy overcast and summer cold and gray turned sunny and blue as we headed toward the open ocean.  Under sail with wind power, we breathed in the briny air and soaked up the sun, surrounded by every shade and hue of blue.  The ocean has its own rhythms as the sea interacts with the wind and the land, unpredictable and powerful.  As we moved further into the open sea, vast blue enveloped our sight along with a sense of solitariness…even though we weren’t alone.

Systems of ropes and pulleys interact with large sheets of sail, wind, weather, and the knowledge of the sailor.  A turn of the wheel is reflected in a change of course that changes the way the wind sits in the sails that impacts the speed of the boat.  An unexpected gust with an inexperienced navigator can cause the boat to heel unexpectedly or abruptly change direction! I noticed that sailors have lots of tools that help them with their systems…the obvious instrumentation that give readings of water depth, speed, direction and the less obvious colored strings that blow in the breeze, the different colored ropes, the sheen (or lack of sheen) of the water that indicates breeze, the feel of the breeze on the cheek.

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We passed buoys along our way where sea lions basked and sang in the sun,

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and seagulls served as sentry, overseeing the watery world.  And these too are part of the navigational system of the waterways.  They are symbols that show ships where to travel to avoid shallows, that mark the water in the ways that lane lines and exits mark our freeways.

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As we headed back into the bay, we had the opportunity to see our city skyline from the outside in rather than the inside out.  And it never hurts to have a beautiful sailboat as part of the view! The hustle and bustle of the city was replicated in the water with many people enjoying the water on every kind of boat: tour boats, speed boats, fishing boats, luxury boats, racing boats, tiny boats, large boats and even jet skis.

Invisible systems of etiquette acknowledge which seacraft are most maneuverable.  Sails have the right of way over motors…but like on our roadways, inexperience or recklessness remind us that right of way is no guarantee of safety.  Paying attention to others is crucial at sea, just as it is on the streets of our beautiful city.

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As we got closer the blue curve of the Coronado Bay Bridge came into view.  This is probably the closest thing to an iconic symbol that we have in our city.  And another view of its beauty is revealed from below as I noticed the way it snakes down in a gentle curve as it crosses the span of the bay.

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Coming back through from the other direction, I noticed the optical illusions of distance as it seems that the mast of the sailboat crossing below will certainly scrape the bottom the bridge.

Under sail we were at the mercy of the wind to keep us moving.  And since the wind doesn’t conveniently change direction when you want to go back the other way, a system of tacking or intentional turns allows the sailor to keep the wind in the sails by crisscrossing across the path to reach the desired destination.  (Remember those pulleys and the wheel?  They all come into play during the tacking process!)

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San Diego is a military town, and nowhere is it more obvious than in the San Diego Bay.  The Midway, a decommissioned aircraft carrier turned museum, is visible along the waterfront. From the street, it is an impressive sight.  From the water, it is spectacular!

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And what system allowed this majestic and enormous vessel to become a floating museum? And what systems interact to keep it functioning?  I know there are educational elements with school field trips, ceremonial elements with honoring of military personnel, tourism elements that bring visitors into contact with military history…

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As we headed back toward the marina, we noticed the tugboats heading toward the ocean. These brilliant orange workhorses are fast and powerful, churning water in their wake (and creating some waves for us aboard a sailboat!).  We knew they would be used to escort a big ship into the bay. What would it be?

What systems are in play when these small but powerful boats are deployed as escorts?  How do they interact with this enormous whale of a warship?

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We searched the mouth of the bay, waiting for the ship to come into our line of sight.  We were soon greeted by the USS Carl Vinson, an aircraft carrier, along with military police and two tugboats coming into the bay.  The deck was lined with people who looked to be in civilian clothes.  Was this the end of a dependents’ cruise (where family members go out on the military ship)?

Is this a system created to acknowledge the hardships of having a loved one at sea for months at a time, a way to allow families to reconnect by making the workplace more familiar and accessible?

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We had a front row seat as we watched this elegant gray giant enter the bay.  Other recreational boats gathered round, also taking in the view of this symbol of power and strength–our military might.  Earlier in the day we had passed other military vessels–but all were docked.  Seeing this ship under power is a less than usual sight.

And then there is the military as a system.  It is often invisible to those of us outside of it.  And yet, in this city where I live the military is ever present.  The ins and outs of military vessels are only a small part of the military system.  Behind each ship are interconnected webs of systems that keep them running, informed, stocked, maintained, staffed…

Our outing came to an end as the marina came into view and we navigated our way back into the slip that is home to this sailboat.  But the journey on a boat doesn’t end with the parking. There are sails to be furled, ropes to be tied, hatches to close, instruments to put away…more systems in play to keep the boat maintained and ready for the next use.

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A leisurely day on the ocean…not quite.  But a beautiful day on the ocean…absolutely!  Thanks so much Katie and Joe for including us and allowing us to experience so many symbols of our city from a different perspective.

I noticed so many systems that I don’t ordinarily pay attention to during this one outing (and there are likely many, many more that I didn’t even mention!)  What systems are going on in your place?  How do they impact you and others?

Getting Ready for #CLMOOC

While I haven’t participated in #rhizo15, I have been intrigued by the ideas behind rhizomatic learning and the thinking that learners can direct themselves, learn from one another, and transform learning in the process.  (If I have that wrong…someone please correct me!)  And the Connected Learning MOOC, known as the #CLMOOC (massive open online collaboration) is starting up in a few weeks!

So instead of cleaning my house or working on report cards last week, I started playing with some photo apps, creating some photo art.  And then yesterday Margaret Simon initiated a #digilit challenge…with the first week being focused on creating #photoart.  How could I resist?

So I started with the image I had created using the app Waterlogue, creating a watercolor version of the photo I had taken.  Then, because Margaret modeled adding poetry to hers, I decided to create a haiku to express why I had stopped and snapped the photo in the first place.  I shared this image with her on Facebook yesterday.

Preset Style = Natural Format = 6" (Medium) Format Margin = Small Format Border = Sm. Rounded Drawing = #2 Pencil Drawing Weight = Medium Drawing Detail = Medium Paint = Natural Paint Lightness = Normal Paint Intensity = Normal Water = Tap Water Water Edges = Medium Water Bleed = Average Brush = Natural Detail Brush Focus = Everything Brush Spacing = Narrow Paper = Watercolor Paper Texture = Medium Paper Shading = Light Options Faces = Enhance Faces

And then today I decided to do some exploring and mess around with Thinglink to add some other media to the image.  I started by adding a link to the original photo I had taken before turning it into a watercolor painting.  I also decided to add a favorite piece of music, so I linked a YouTube video of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World.  And then, just for fun, I added the link to Margaret’s Pinterest page where there are examples of other’s #photoart.  Here’s my result:

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I hope you will also join in the fun…create some #photoart…and join us at the CLMOOC starting in June!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wet

Do you speak in images? Enjoy taking photos to document your experiences or just to express what you notice in the world? Love to share them with others? Welcome to the weekly photo challenge! I post a new challenge each week…check in regularly and join the fun!

Here in Southern California we’re in the third year of drought conditions…and our normal rainfall is only ten inches annually, so you know it’s dry.  So when we get a forecast of rain, it’s an event!  Yesterday we were hearing the news of the storm that hit Northern California and watched the clouds begin to gather on our own horizon.  I love the drama of the clouds yesterday afternoon along the coast with the lifeguard tower in the foreground.

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As promised, rain arrived this morning.  The morning commute was quite an adventure with dark clouds and rain making it look almost like nighttime at 7:00am!  My windshield wipers raced and my tires created plumes of water as I drove through the rain pooling in large puddles in the street.

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And in spite of the leaky roof in my classroom and a rainy day schedule with kids spending their recesses and lunch in the classroom, we had a great day.  And we so need the rain!  Lucky for all of us, we were able to head outdoors for Friday afternoon Cardio Club…into the sunshine with blue skies in evidence!

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After school I couldn’t resist heading toward the beach to take a few pictures of the clouds and sun along the coast.  This view is looking south near the mouth of the lagoon.

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And even though it hadn’t rained in a few hours, when I arrived at home and opened my car door my eye was drawn to the raindrops on the clover-like grass growing in my lawn.  These truly precious wet jewels glistened in the afternoon sun against the green of the grass.

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Where do you find the wet in your world?  (And I’d love to learn some techniques to take better photos of rain!)  It could be on your dishes as you wash them, trickling down that festive holiday cocktail, in your pet’s water bowl, or outside…in your yard, community or the natural spaces around you.

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 #wet for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

So follow the water and find where it pools…what does wet look like through your lens?

A Place to Treasure

We often think about treasures as those tangible trinkets: an irreplaceable family heirloom, the lock of hair from your baby’s first haircut, the multifaceted diamond in your engagement ring, the lucky penny you wear in your shoe.  They often carry sentimental value far beyond their monetary worth, representing events, memories, and stories to remember.

As I was thinking about treasure as the topic for this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge at the Daily Post, I considered the treasures in my life.  Of course I have those tangible items infused with sentiment that carry treasured memories, but a walk on the beach today with my husband brought my treasure forward for me.

As someone who lives a few miles from the beach, it can be easy to take this treasure for granted.  I don’t think anyone would argue that the beach is beautiful, but there is so much more to treasure.

The beach is a chameleon.  It responds dramatically to nuances light and changes moods with even subtle weather changes.  It can be wild and ferocious or calm and playful.  Today was one of those picture-perfect February days that allowed me to roll up my jeans, tie my sweatshirt around my waist, and walk barefoot in the cool salty water.

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I am continually fascinated by the wildlife, the geology, and the physics at the beach.  This egret caught my attention today and let me get quite close as it investigated close to the cliffs. Egrets more commonly hang out at the lagoon and I seldom see them on the beach.  This guy was quite interested in whatever lurked in the brush at the base of the cliff.  He seemed to move in slow motion, jutting his head forward with each step.  I tried to capture his movement in a short video, but he moved so slowly and deliberately I probably should have tried time lapse!

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But what I treasure most about the beach is the opportunities it allows for time…time to think, time to reflect, and time to engage in deep conversation with a companion.  Somehow, no matter how many people are there, you can find space at the beach.

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There is a vastness that has a way of wrapping itself around you, shouldering some of the tension that weighs so heavily.  Reflectiveness is a natural on the shoreline; the water and light play with each other, making connections and expanding views…creating opportunities for new understandings.

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We left the beach after a long, meandering walk refreshed and relaxed having reveled in the natural beauty, the breaths of briny sea air, and the warm rays of sun that danced on our shoulders and cheeks.  I often play with my iPhone photos in editing apps, cropping and brightening or creating interesting effects.  All the photos in this post are completely unedited, shown the way the camera on my phone captured them, in their natural state.

I feel confident that those of you who live in other places, far from the sea, also have some natural treasures like the beach.  What are the places that you treasure?  What makes them special?  I look forward to experiencing your treasures through your lens and through your writing!

Spontaneous: a Photo Essay

There are so many routines…and they help me get things done.  They get me to work on time , allow me to accomplish the mundane and the inspirational work in my life, and remind me to make time for work and play, relaxation and exercise, books and art and more. But sometimes my routines get in my way.

I almost let that happen today.  I had a meeting at a school site near a picturesque part of our city.  As I pulled up to park I thought about taking some time after the meeting to drive the couple of miles to the cove and see if there was anything to photograph.

After my meeting I wanted to go home.  I knew the traffic would be bad… and it gets dark so early these days…I had lots of excuses.  But then I decided to take that short drive anyway, even if it meant some miserable traffic on my way home.

And I’m so glad I did!  La Jolla Cove is truly a treasure.  This little protected piece of ocean is a refuge for wildlife…and for people.  When I pulled up and immediately found a parking place, I knew this would be worth the spontaneous decision.  I first noticed this little structure with sea gulls roosting on top.  Through it I could see a small fishing boat in the surf.

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As I continued up the walkway, I heard barking.  But it wasn’t dogs…it was sea lions!  Some sunbathed in the cool December air while others seemed to play hide and seek in the waves.

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I looked up and noticed pelicans cruising the coast…almost close enough to touch!  (Of course I missed photographing the ones that were close!)

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I noticed this big seagull cruising the park area.  He had been perched up on the tree, but had moved on by the time I close enough to use my camera!

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I was right about the traffic, by the way.  It took me more than an hour to get home after this excursion.  But it was so worth it.  My photos don’t begin to do justice to my experience. The sights and sounds and smells along with the crisp, cool air and low afternoon sun made for a perfect respite on a work day.

When I got home it was dark…and I noticed the sliver of moon rising.  Geoff and I headed out after dinner to get gas for my car…and decided to stop by Starbucks for a cup of coffee. And spontaneously, as we turned the corner and spied the moon we headed off to the beach where we knew the view would be spectacular.

And we weren’t disappointed.  That shy smile of the moon reflected on the surf below.  The colors were incredible…whites and golds.  The moon made the water glow…and the froth of the surf curled in frosty waves.  I tried my camera…with little success.

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But standing side by side in the dark appreciating the beauty of the moon and water in the cool of December with a hot coffee in our hands was priceless.  A reminder to be spontaneous now and then.  Routines can return tomorrow.