Spring Fresh

This week’s theme for WP is FRESH. I could use some fresh air… living in a large city which has issues with pollution it is something we all wish for. The thick smoggy air blocks out the clouds and blue skies, something most of us would take for granted. Due to smog, rain and fog over the last 7 weeks we have seen full on bright sun only 4-6 days. The less than fresh air has lead to another cold and sinus infection. Down right depressing.

As the saying goes April showers bring May flowers, where in Shanghai it must be February and March showers. The beautiful magnolia tree, outside my building, started to bud just the other day. I thought about capturing its progress and here is the first shot.

March 12th first buds. Spring is finally coming!

March 12th first buds. Spring is finally coming!

…..  6 days later you can tell what colour they will be. We just need some sun and warmth.

March 18th they are opening! Not long now.

March 18th they are opening! Not long now.

Finally temperatures started to rise and become seasonal. We have also had a longer winter and over the last 4-6 weeks below average temperatures. However, change is in the air. One day this past week we even peaked at 18c a few degrees  above normal. Finally! Look what it did!

March 20th after 2 warm days they have started to open, but today is a bit chilly. Happy to stay closed a little longer.

March 20th after 2 warm days they have started to open, but today is a bit chilly. Happy to stay closed a little longer.

Then today a glorious day with subtle sunshine, but 17c and I captured this. Full bloom. Fresh flowers and sunny days give me energy and lift my spirits. I am suddenly feeling re’freshed’ and have a ‘spring’ in my step.

March 22.... we did it.

March 22…. we did it.

What makes you feel energised?

Stay tuned….

 

Categories: China, Tourist in My Own Town, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Walls -WP Photo Challenge

I could show you yet another photo of the Great Wall in China, but you have seen it from me before. Just look up at my banner ;) Instead I want to show you a lesser known part of China -Tianzifang (pronounced tea-anne -zzz fawn). In the old French Concession part of Shanghai is a maze of little streets. Once a thriving neighbourhood with tightly compact brick buildings, narrow streets and low rise buildings. Areas like this are now rare, from the days of old, as they have been demolished to make way for steel and glass modern skyscrapers. However, this area remains and has turned into a little gem. It is popular with the locals and expats and any nice weather weekend the streets are jam packed. Many unique shops housing handicrafts, galleries with works for sale and restaurants make it a wonderful day out. It is fun to poke around in the little shops looking at leather-bound books, purses and amazing photos of China. Tired feet? Stop at one of the many restaurants with a variety of food tastes from Thai, Indian and local fares. Adventurous and have a quirky sense of humour then try the restaurant called Toilet.

Over Chinese Holiday this year I stayed in Shanghai. A few of us wandered the streets of Tianzifang and I captured some interesting photos which, happen to fit the WP theme WALLS this week.

This sign was interesting and I think it is about the holiday and maybe fireworks related? I did see other signs saying no fireworks. If anyone out there that can translate please leave a comment below on what the sign is saying.

 

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This wall was very unique with the little bottles of grass growing. Decoration? Salad or food toppings? What do you think?

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This last one was a little graffiti maybe…? It was too cute, so I snapped a quick pic.

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If you are in Shanghai, or planning a visit and want to check it out here is the information:

Tianzifang In Chinese Characters 田子坊 and pinyin: Tiánzǐfāng

泰康路210弄, Huangpu, Shanghai, China. In English the address is Lane 210, Taikang Road.

It is a fairly cheap taxi ride even from Pudong (30-40 RMB or $6-8) and the metro is right across the street in a large shopping mall.

 

Stay tuned…

Categories: China, Tourist in My Own Town, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Orange you glad… WP Photo Challenge

This week WP wants us to look at orange. They suggested using 3 photos to show orange as the main focus, or something tucked away in the background. My immediate thought was this incredible sunset I posted a few weeks back.

Citrus Shanghai Skyline

Citrus Shanghai Skyline

Michelle I also like to play with words and use alliteration ;)

Then there is Willow. Our cute 4 legged baby. She is gray with orange eyes… so unique.

Willow with her amber eyes.

Willow with her amber eyes.

Every other week I treat myself to a bouquet of flowers. They are pretty reasonable and smell divine. As the gray dull days of winter wind down I picked a sign of spring with these bright orange tulips.

Orange tulips -unedited

Orange tulips – unedited

I played with my photo editing program and enhanced it a bit too.

photo enhanced to show saturation of colour

photo enhanced to show saturation of colour

Orange is not a colour I am drawn too, but after this challenge I will be on the look out for it more. It is a happy colour that really lifts your spirits.

What is your favourite orange?

Stay tuned…

Categories: China, Tourist in My Own Town, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reward -WP Photo Challenge

If you could have anything as a reward what would it be? Word Press asked us to show reward this week. The trick is showing a reward in a photo. Sure working out, a good grade, or accomplishing a difficult task is a great reward for hard work. My greatest reward, if I could have anything, is…. travel. A quiet beach with waves soothing and relaxing me, a new city to explore or a culture and different food to experience is such a reward for me.

Hong Kong -bright lights big city

Hong Kong – bright lights big city

 

A small section of the Great Wall.

A small section of the Great Wall.

 

Where's the Beach?

Where’s the Beach?

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Luckily after long waits or hidden areas within the large temple maze I was able to get some incredible shots I was hoping for.

Luckily after long waits or hidden areas within the large temple maze I was able to get some incredible shots I was hoping for. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

 

What a view!

What a view! – Philippines

I have been very lucky to travel to so many places and reward myself :) My reward is looking at all the stamps in my passport and photos I have taken. Enjoy sharing my reward.

How do you reward yourself?

 

Stay tuned…

 

Categories: Photography, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Rule of Thirds: WP photo challenge

Last week WP told us to look for symmetry, this week we are back to the usual photographic rule; the rule of thirds. When taking a photo photographers suggest visualising a grid dividing your image into thirds horizontally and vertically. Putting the focal point in one of those thirds, other than the centre, it provides visual interest.

Jen H. at word press not only suggested using the rule of thirds, but keeping the main subject in focus and the background blurred, or bokeh.

My first shot is rain drops on an evergreen tree.

cool summer rain

cool summer rain

This shot is one of my favourites of a dewy spiderweb.

glistening dew drops

glistening dew drops

Each shot fits the rule of thirds in different ways, however the background is blurred.What do you think?

Stay tuned…

Categories: Tourist in My Own Town, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

#Pink It Forward

My friend over at Patchwork Ponderings has offered me the challenge to post something in response to the Pink It Forward campaign. Each month she always does a post on special days and charities that are held in the given month. It is almost Pink Shirt Day. What is that? Well it all started in a response to bullying a few years ago. Kids can be mean, push you around, steal your lunch money or say things that hurt more than any physical pain. One such kid was getting teased and a bunch of kids at their school decided not to stand by and let it happen. Instead they all wore pink shirts to show support to the kid who was getting picked on. Now the bully didn’t have one victim, but had a team of kids standing up and making a difference. Pink shirt day was then adopted by many other schools and now even school boards all over. Bullying has changed with technology and the Pink it Forward is asking for the internet to be a kind and positive place.

The challenge is easy….

How can you get involved? It’s simple:

1. During the weeks leading up to and on Pink Shirt Day – February 25th, post a photo of someone special on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. It could be a friend, teammate, colleague, family member, classmate or even someone you just met.

2. Add the caption below and fill in the blanks with their name and why they’re so awesome:

Twitter: For #PinkShirtDay, I appreciate ____________ because________. Now it’s your turn to #PinkItForward

Instagram or Facebook: For #PinkShirtDay, I’m helping to stop bullying by? turning the Internet into a positive place. I #PinkItForward to ________ for _______________. Now it’s your turn!

3. Remember to tag that person so they can also #PinkItForward.

It’s that easy! And remember, each time someone spreads the kindness by using #PinkItForward, Coast Capital Savings will donate $1 to Pink Shirt Day – up to $45,000!

This February 25th, let’s turn the Internet positive!

Special thanks to our partner Coast Capital Savings who will be donating $1 for every #PinkItForward to Pink Shirt Day!

from: http://pinkshirtday.ca/2015/02/17/pinkitforward-canada/

bucketfiller

Patchwork Ponderings nominated me because I teach kids that kindness matters. As you know I am a teacher and the kids I teach are from families of executives of companies, diplomats of countries, or well off families. The one thing I wanted to focus on with each class was just being kind and showing appreciation. Very quickly I saw kids leaving a mess for someone else to clean up, never saying thanks and expecting the cleaners to just do it. They weren’t doing it to be mean, but that is a way of life here. Each home has at least one person to do all the work so you don’t have to. We started to focus on our classroom and each other by at least saying thank you. I had some very kind and generous kids in my class and I focused on their kindness and it quickly spread. Little things mean a lot. Respect for people no matter what their profession is important because they are human first and whatever job second. Just because of life circumstances we don’t have the right to think we are better than someone else. We are all special.

We practise this daily and it is amazing how fast it grows and spreads. My classroom is safe to be yourself and everyone is treated with fairness and respect. I hope they take that out into the playground, the street and life.

Have You Filled a Bucket TodayI was taking a course and someone introduced me to the book “Have you filled a Bucket Today”. It is a kid friendly way to explain kindness. She worked in a hard inner-city school and the kids got it. I supplied for her class and they were amazing! So polite and respectful. Something that is rare to see in a rough school especially when you are the supply teacher! Each year I read this to my students and it becomes the language in our classroom. You can easily fill a bucket by saying something kind, smiling, helping, letting someone join in… but you can also dip in someone’s bucket by saying something mean, laughing and teasing or hurting them. The children enjoy sharing stories and brainstorming their own ideas in what you should and shouldn’t do. Quickly we have a class full of bucket fillers. Occasionally we have bucket dippers too, but it gives them the words to express themselves and they begin to understand that words and actions hurt too.

So for #Pink It Forward I challenge all of you to smile at someone, say something nice, hold a door for, say thanks to your bus driver… try it – it is easy.

Stay tuned….

 

Categories: Canada | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Chinese Symmetry -WP Photo Challenge

When I take pictures I often follow the rule of thirds to make things more interesting. This causes difficultly when looking for pictures with symmetry. I took a rainy stroll around the block today and looked for things that created symmetry.

A street sign showing Chinese characters isn’t symmetrical, but some Chinese characters can be divided equally.

some Chinese characters are symmetrical

some Chinese characters are symmetrical

Wednesday is New Years Eve and Chinese lanterns and other decorations are popping up all around. The entrance to this shopping area was very symmetrical.

Chinese New Year decorations near City Shop and Yanlord Town

Chinese New Year decorations near City Shop and Yanlord Town

Expensive cars grace the streets in my neighbourhood and I noticed the grill of this high-end car to be symmetrical.

man made symmetry

man made symmetry

Look for what creates balance and symmetry in your neighbourhood. Find something? Post about on WP or tell us about in the comments below.

Stay tuned…

 

Categories: China, Culture, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Scale -Bigger than Life: WP Challenge

This week’s WP Photo theme is SCALE. When we visited Hong Kong Disney (Fall 2014) we noticed that things from Toy Story were larger than life. All our favourite toys from childhood were creatively made into displays.

Larger than child size!

Larger than child size!

This photo here shows just how big they were; certainly not to scale.

On a side note did you know there is a Disney theme park being built in Shanghai? Just made official the park will be ready to open spring 2016.

Stay tuned…

Categories: China, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Depth -WP Photo Challenge

Depth… can be so many things.

Say something deep – full of meaning and inspire others.

Show depth as in something far away.

Depth – maybe an unreachable goal, or something to be working towards.

Can buildings show depth? A view from below looking way up over 100 floors high.

World Financial Tower and Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai

World Financial Tower , New Shanghai Tower and Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai

Maybe if your head is in the clouds ;)

Can a horizon show depth? Maybe if you are dreaming about what lays beyond, or are pondering your future.

Subtle Sunset

Subtle Sunset

I like how this simple photo seems panoramic in this light just as the sun was fading away.  It seems to show depth of the never-ending Shanghai skyline, with the contrast of light and shadow.

It is a little chilly this week in Shanghai and all these shivers have shaken out my creative prose. To see more be sure to head over to Word Press.

 

 

Categories: China, Photography, Tourist in My Own Town, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

“A Little Polluted” -Shanghai Smog

The Shanghai Daily, a local newspaper, reported Shanghai weather January 25th as …a little polluted with temperatures reaching as high as 17c Saturday. I guess this is a new term to describe weather. It certainly has become part of my daily routine, check the weather and AQI before heading outside. Living in Shanghai over the last 5 years pollution has become more apparent. The first year we didn’t notice it much. The second year we found a few days uncomfortable and you could see it along the skyline. The third year we lived here levels became high where the sky looked an odd greenish grey. Being outside it irritated your eyes, nose and throat. Soon after our school started to report the levels to us and parents. If it is higher than 200 (pm2.5) children would be kept inside. The school also purchased air purifiers for the classrooms.

We started to see more bad air days and higher levels last year (2014). One day it reached a high well over 400, and some reports say closer to 500. Inside even with air purifiers at full speed a haze and acrid smelling air found its way into classrooms. This year we purchased an expensive air purifier for our apartment, despite us leaving in a few months. We decided our health was worth the expense.

The shot on the right shows a little blue sky…levels are around 200.

This weekend reports are saying Beijing, North of Shanghai (5 hours by speed train, few hours by plane) is unlivable due to the air quality. Beijing has always had the bad rap for air since it is in a valley and it is easier for the bad air to get trapped. Shanghai is now starting to see the problems Beijing has experienced, but without the same geography. The local government in Shanghai is trying to cut back on bad pollutants when winds are low and air quality indexes get high in hopes this will reduce the pollution levels in the city. Cleaner coal has been purchased, as coal is still a major producer of electricity here.

The shot of the right is zoomed in and you can just faintly make out the new Shanghai Tower.

My theory for bad air, around this time of year, is the holidays are soon approaching. Chinese New Year is the equivalent to our Christmas. Most businesses can shut for as long as 2 weeks, so workers can go home to celebrate with families. Shanghai has a large migrant community with people moving here to make larger wages or get work. My theory is there is an increase in production and manufacturing to make up for lost time. Is it possible to work over time, extra shifts and 24 hour rotations to stock pile products, so the world can keep on consuming? It may explain the sudden spike in higher levels. For example today at 8AM levels were low/normal for this time of year, around 140. The website I use to check classes that as “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups”. By noon is was around 170, or Unhealthy. As I started to write this post it was 220, or Very Unhealthy. The latest update now pegs us at 337 or Hazardous. Our air cleaner is pumping hard and not able to keep “blue” showing clean air.

Screen Shot of AQI Jan. 25, 2015

Screen Shot of AQI Jan. 25, 2015

Of course we can say China has a problem, but so did north America 30-40 years ago. What changed? Most industry moved here. What isn’t made in China? Something to ponder….

Stay tuned…

Categories: China, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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