Thursday, February 20, 2020

What's Happening

At the beginning of this year I had this idea that I would spend much more time blogging. I had the intention of writing and also connecting more by reading blogs and commenting, starting a conversation. While this is something I still want to do, the reality looks a little bit different.

I honestly am not sure what happened to January and how come that we're more than half through February?

My friend's two daughters had their fifth and first birthday at the end of January and the middle of February, so I was busy knitting for them. The fox socks above were for the older girl and I learned a couple new techniques while completing them. It made me so happy when my friend told me that her girl is practically living in those socks - there is no nicer compliment! The younger girl got this dress which is the same pattern as the dress that I knitted for the newest member of our Turkish family back in the summer. Photos showed me that it was well received and it fits the little girl.

I was also busy knitting socks for my Etsy store since I got quite a number of orders in. Since last fall I have introduced new colors and thus extended the color range which proved to be a successful idea. I wear these socks myself and know how warm and comfortable they are.

Speaking about the Etsy store, I also got a lot of orders for Valentine's cards. Remembering Kaefer's classroom Valentine's parties in elementary school and how I always made those mini cards for her classmates myself, I had started to offer classroom sets of handmade mini Valentine's cards in my store - and so far every year I had many customers who wanted these cards. They're made to order and this year I made 480 Valentine's cards!

While I did all this knitting and also some of the Valentine's cards I was listening to an audiobook. In January I borrowed an audiobook through amazon prime reading; it was a short story by Alice Hoffman, "Everything My Mother Taught Me" and I was quite captivated. Out of curiosity I listened to the audio sample of "One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow" and was immediately drawn into the narration. The voice of the narrator - Jackie Zebrowski - fits the plot of the book perfectly. I thought for a few more days about it and then signed up for a 30-day Audible trial. I thoroughly enjoy this book, but I don't know whether I will actually keep Audible - it's not exactly cheap. If you listen to audiobooks I would like to hear your thoughts.

Whenever there is time I walk around the lake. I was very lucky to get a few early mornings in.

Unfortunately, time spent at the lake has become quite rare. My colleague at the high school library has accepted another job and left within a week. So far we haven't replaced her, but I do have a substitute who is the mother of one of Kaefer's classmates from 5th to 8th grade. We have a lot of fun together even though there is a lot of work and some days are quite chaotic. The interesting thing though is that I enjoy it - something that hadn't happened for quite a while. I still love my teaching job - we had to go through some rough times at the school that involved some hard decisions, something I am not very fond of. But I feel that our team has really come together which is just as important. We 're currently working on our budget for the coming school year, and since I'm on the board now as well that is quite a steep learning curve for me. Certainly never a dull moment. On top of that I have a new private student - every now and then I do private tutoring, and it's always very enriching since I learn a lot through it as well.

Beside all of that I'm trying to do this:

While I have made up my mind about most of the candidates, propositions and measures on the ballot, I am struggling with the presidential candidates. Honestly, I can't develop full enthusiasm for any of them. Our primaries will be on March 3rd, so I need to make up my mind soon.

On Valentine's Day I went to Davis to get her ballot to Kaefer (lucky her, she already made her decision) and we spent a beautiful day together. I met the crew at her workplace (I don't know whether I ever told you that she has had a job since the beginning of her sophomore year), chatted with her room mates and we had a lovely lunch on the patio of a bistro in downtown Davis (yes, outside on February 14th!).

Usually I don't elaborate in this space about the things I wear. I'm not particularly interested in fashion, I don't wear make up and my hair gets a cut a couple times a year. However, it's becoming more and more important for me that my clothes come from sustainable sources or are fair trade etc - I'm not a department store shopper (I'm not much of a shopper anyway!). When I heard of Allbirds shoes and saw them on my neighbor's feet I was intrigued by their environmentally friendly approach. Then they came out with a flat in the color "poppy" and I was sold (well, actually it was the other way round, but who cares...). Even Kibeau approves!

And when there is time - like yesterday - I drive out to the ocean. Yesterday I had the beach almost to myself - beside the seagulls and the seals.It's my happy place that always works its magic on me.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Helping New Yorkers Breathe a Little Bit Easier

Set smack in the middle of Manhattan, in the midst of all the concrete and steel where nothing reminds of nature, there is a huge urban park - Central Park. It covers 843 acres and stretches along 51 blocks - if I counted correctly. When we walked from the Guggenheim Museum, which is across from the upper half from Central Park, to our hotel near the Empire State Building it felt like an endless stretch. But when you look at the "rock desert" around you, all those skyscrapers and multi-storied buildings, you understand that you need a huge area to get at least the feel you're in nature.

Except you aren't.

Central Park is a man-made park, designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and architect/landscape designer Calvert Vaux. The construction of the park began in 1857 and it was completed in 1876. The site was originally occupied by free black people and Irish immigrants who had been living there in small villages since 1825. Approximately 1600 residents were evicted under eminent domain.

Central Park features lakes, many playgrounds, meadows and the Ramble, the only part were you find trails that are not paved. The trees in Central - more than 18000 - play the most important rule of  helping New Yorkers breather a little bit easier. In one year, a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, converting it into oxygen. The trees also help to keep the city cool in the summer heat, working as natural air conditioners.

You can probably spend an entire day in Central Park, at least when the temperatures are a bit milder than on this December day. It was a sunny and brilliant day, but very cold. However, the bare trees and the partly frozen lake had its own charm.

Central Park is great for biking and jogging or just strolling along the lakes and through the Ramble. You can also take a ride in a horse carriage, but I would highly discourage that - firstly, it's hideously overpriced and secondly and more important the horses have a miserable life.

It's a beautiful, calm and restful place, definitely an oasis if you live in a place like New York City. But in the end, I do prefer "real" nature and wilderness.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Photo Winners

Thank you to all of you who have participated in my giveaway and voted on the favorite photos. It was interesting to see the different votes and see which photos you liked best.

Let's start at the photo that gathered the third-most votes - or should I say photos since three photos share the same number of votes - which also means that the lucky winner doesn't get three photo greeting cards but five!

California Coast

Point Arena

Sonoma Doors

"The light in the vineyard" takes second place

And the top winner is "Raindrops"!

After I had figured out the winning photos I had to choose a lucky person who will get those five cards - and it is

Elephant's Child !!!

Congratulations!!! I will get in touch with you and then create and send out the cards to you within the next two weeks.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Favorite Photos of 2019 and a Giveaway

This is one of my favorite posts to write - showing you my favorite photos from the past year and then you can choose your favorite 3 images - and there even will be one lucky winner. I've done this the past couple years and I always enjoyed your responses so very much.

So here's how it works: you will see my top 15 favorite photos of last year. Many of them you already saw in an blogpost, but some may be new to you. I would love you to tell me in the comments which 3 images out of these photos are your favorites. Sometimes you might like a photo so much that you want to give it all of your three votes - you can do that, too. Or one photo gets two votes and another the remaining one. You can divide your three votes however you like. All the photos have numbers, so just put in the numbers in the comments. By next week's Sunday I will see which three photos have made the top, and one of you - chosen randomly - will get those three photos as greeting cards. This giveaway is open worldwide, so don't hesitate if you live on the other side of the world.

Without further ado, here we go:

1. Buckeyes

2. Autumn Glory

3. Raindrops

4. The light in the vineyard

5. Winter vineyard

6.  The California Coast

7.  The Grand Canyon

8. Point Arena

9. In the Mission courtyard

10. Lavender Fields Forever

11. The Lavender Barn

12. Misty morning at the coast

13. Poppies

14. Sonoma doors

15. Late autumn at the coast

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Winter Day at the Beach

Kaefer came home for the long MLK weekend to celebrate my 60th birthday - one of the best presents I could get. She was a bit sick with a cold, so we stayed mainly at home watching British crime shows, but on Sunday we made a trip up North to Gualala. Our county ends a mile or so before Gualala, just South of the Gualala River, and Gualala Point Regional Park still is within Sonoma County. Since I buy the Regional Parks Pass every year, we can spend as much time there as we like without paying the daily parking fee.

It was a pretty wild day at the beach with tall and fast waves that relentlessly crashed onto the shore. I love watching this show - but always from a safe distance.

It always surprises me how many people underestimate the ocean and its power. The Pacific in our area is dangerous because beside its "normal" waves there are also so-called sleeper or sneaker waves that are much taller and stronger. They can easily pull people out into the sea and if you're stuck in a rip current it's time to say your prayers.

This is exactly what you shouldn't do:

Walking along the beach I always look for shells, driftwood, sea glass and interesting things. I don't know what this is, it looks soft but is much harder to the touch. Maybe it is a part of some kelp?

The beach was littered with driftwood. Sometimes I find interesting pieces that I take home and put in my garden. They make beautiful natural decoration.

The different shades and colors of the wood are fascinating. My favorite definitely was the red one, which in some places almost had a purple hue.

We also found other beautiful things of which I'm not quite sure what it is - it looked like parts of some plants. Can you see the delicate "skeleton" of the dark leaf in the bottom picture of these three photos?

We spent an hour on the beach and then hiked up and along the cliffs with fabulous views of the wild ocean. How can someone ever tire of the sea? At the end of the trail within the park we turned left to return to the parking lot. It's a beautiful trail through a wooded area and here we discovered some stunning looking mushrooms.

This fungus is called Amanita muscaria, or fly agaric. They are known for their hallucinogenic properties and they can kill you if you eat too many of them. In German we call it "Fliegenpilz" which translates to fly mushroom or fly fungus. I had never seen them before and was fascinated by their distinctive appearance.

After a good meal of local rock fish and chips at the Gualala Seafood Shack and some coffee and peanut butter cheesecake at Trinks Café we headed home along famous Highway 1, stopping several times to admire the moody atmosphere over the ocean.

All photos were taken with my Pixel 3XL.