Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Where Will Donkey Go?

This street is in my neighborhood very close to our home. I go along it almost every day - at the end of it, before the meadow, I have to make a right turn. Every time I drive or walk here I enjoy the view of the meadow, seeing the green grass and the trees. It's a little oasis and right here it turns up to the hill and the forested area. It's beautiful.

You might have seen it in the top photo - there is a big sign on the fence. It was installed a few weeks ago - and it's very disturbing.

The meadow is for sale. Almost 4 acres are offered up for development. A kind of development we don't know what it will look like. Will it be an apartment complex? Single family homes? Probably not for businesses as this is zoned for residential buildings.

The meadow across the street is for sale as well. Here goats used to hang out, very sweet and curious black goats. They have been gone for quite a while. Sometimes they shared the meadow with a donkey.

However, the donkey lived on the other meadow most of the time, often sharing it with the deer. He is still there, but I wonder for how long? And where will he go once the meadow is sold?

This donkey is a beloved part of the neighborhood. Young mothers with their small children visit him. I heard some elementary school girls lovingly call him Don Quixote. Kaefer and I simply call him Donkers.

He is the sweetest guy, very mellow and always comes galloping down the hill when you call him. Of course he expects some treats like apples or carrots. He also loves grapes. When he realizes that the visitors haven't brought anything but a few cuddles he lets his frustration know, loud and clear. I always know when he's angry because I can hear it in my house.

Every now and then - rather seldom - Kaefer and I feed him carrots or apples which he chews slowly and thoughtfully. Nothing can distract him from eating. I do think his teeth need a thorough cleaning.

What will happen to him? What will happen to the meadow?

We do have a huge housing crisis here. Affordable housing is more than difficult to get - but I doubt that this meadow would be a spot for affordable housing. I'm afraid it will be the location for some high end housing projects that we really don't need anymore. It will do nothing to lighten the housing problem to low income people. And I don't believe that it is zoned for apartment complexes.

We can only wait - and hope that they will build new housing, whatever it is, in a sustainable way. I hope that a good part of the trees will survive. I can't stand thinking of all the little critters who call this meadow a home right now. They, too, will need to go somewhere else. And once more, their habitat gets a little bit smaller.

This is the view of the upper part of the meadow from our bedroom window. What will we see from there in a year from now?

Since these photos show quite some fences I'm linking up to Theresa's Good Fences. I haven't done so for a long time.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

On this day

She's 18 years old today. As of today my daughter is officially an adult.

Like almost every mother I know I wonder where the time has gone. It doesn't feel like 18 years that on this day she was lying in my arms for the very first time, with her eyes firmly shut, refusing to look at this bright and noisy new world. She opened them a bit later - at that time they were deep blue and still hadn't the two slightly different colors they have now. I remember that back then everybody told me time would pass quickly, but I had no idea that it would actually fly and suddenly my baby was all grown up.

Those 18 years were mainly good years and when I look at Kaefer today I feel blessed to be the mom to this amazing young woman she has become. Since last summer when she went to Germany all on her own for the first time she has matured very much. The entire process of checking out colleges, applying to and finally deciding for one was a further step that resulted in more maturity. She certainly has gained more independence over the past 12 months.

Still, she is a teenager with a lot of goofiness which I hope she will never completely loose. It's her sense of humor that will help her along her way through life. She is self confident without being arrogant and has a very healthy self image that is aware of her own faults. She is smart and hard working, creative, witty and kind. I've never heard her gossip or talk about someone behind their back.

She deserved a colorful bouquet from my garden. Here I am gathering flowers for her.

Yesterday was prom at her school - well, it wasn't actually at the school but in the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Before she met with her friends for the pre-prom we took a few pictures in the front garden.

The Geek had the honor to put the corsage on her wrist. Against all odds the red ribbon matched the color of her dress perfectly.

This is my favorite image from yesterday's photos.

(The three top photos were among the shots I took for her senior picture.)

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Surgery And A Decision

Last week I had surgery - one of the reasons why I haven't been here for quite a while. It was nothing life-threatening - one of the glands of my parathyroid was playing havoc with the calcium in my blood which is not a good thing and, if untreated, can cause bone density loss and kidney stones. Since I didn't want neither of these I decided to get the responsible gland removed which was finally done last week. I was there as an outpatient and back home in the evening. This time the general anesthesia didn't bother me very much. Usually I tend to feel dizzy and even almost pass out in the first few days after general anesthesia, but this time I felt fine. However, I didn't do very well with the pain medication and I was happy when I was able to stop it. Since then, I've been on the mend, and every day seems to be better than the day before.

There also has been a big decision in our house.

After visiting UC Berkeley and Cal Poly the week before my surgery, we ended the entire "which college should I go to" journey with another short visit to UC Davis. Then the girl made her decision - she will be going to UC Davis. Her major is Sustainable Environmental Design, and I can't imagine a better place for that than Davis.

We visited the campus on a rather grey day, but even then I got the impression of a happy, cheerful and lively environment. Look at the colors of the residence halls!

As a student in the university's Honors Program Kaefer will be living in one of these for her freshman year. They are right on campus, but somehow also in the countryside - this is the view from some of the rooms:

UC Davis is big in agricultural studies and the only university in California for veterinary medicine. Even though Kaefer's major is quite different from that, I feel she's stepping into her grandfather's (my Dad's) footsteps who was a veterinary. He would have been so proud of her!

The artwork on some of the residence halls displays another big part of UC Davis and its town:

It is THE bike town. Davis is completely FLAT - ideal for commuting by bike. There are bike trails on campus with their own roundabouts etc., and in town there are bike lanes everywhere. It's a biker's paradise. When I was a student at the University of Tübingen I always rode my bike and I'm happy that Kaefer will do the same during her years in college.

There are some nice buildings like the Lab with its giant green house on top.

The Library with one of the Eggheads in front of it.

There are several of those Eggheads on campus. They are bronze sculptures created by artist and UC Davis Professor Robert Arneson specifically for this campus. This one is called Bookhead and students kiss it for good luck, especially before finals.

UC Davis is a very green and sustainable campus - in 2012 it was voted the Greenest University. I think Kaefer chose her major and her college wisely! So did the squirrels...

The decision has brought relief to all of us. At the beginning I was still thinking that Cal Poly would have been a great fit for her, but talking with and listening to her I understand that UC Davis offers her more flexibility. She also loves the diversity of Davis whereas Cal Poly has a predominantly white population. Kaefer looks forward to meet and connect with students from other countries. In this regard she's totally my girl.

To the new Aggie!

Saturday, April 9, 2016


Some cool art at Cal Poly

After having looked at UC Berkeley last Sunday, we drove down to San Luis Obispo - or SLO - on the Central Coast to look at Cal Poly (California Polytechnic State University) one more time. We had visited the campus before during college trip to Colorado in the winter. At that time the campus was mostly empty since most of the students had left for winter break.

Kaefer wanted to check it out during the semester, and the cousin of one of her friends had offered to give her a private tour.

Kaefer's major at Cal Poly would be architecture. The approach here is very hands-on and practical, it's an accredited program that takes five years.

One of the projects of first year architecture students

While Kaefer went on her private tour, the Geek and I explored SLO.

It has a historic city center with a beautiful mission, founded in 1772.

I liked the bear fountain in front of the mission that represents the Native Americans who lived here (the Chumash) and the grizzlies which used to be abundant in this area.

The mission has three bells of which I don't know whether they're still in use.

What fascinated me most about the Mission was the roof.

It is built of crooked terracotta shingles, some of them being clearly older than others. I took some close-ups - have a look:

Like every mission, this one had some lovely nooks and corner.

And right across from the Mission I discovered this porch of a restaurant with those colorful sunshades and a lovely terracotta roof as well.

Downtown SLO is lively with lots of local businesses, restaurants, tons of trash bins (no one has any reason here to throw trash on the street as there is a trash bin every few yards). Beautiful trees are lining the streets and give good shade on hot and sunny days. Lots of traffic as well, but it is easy to get around as a pedestrian.

I liked this special kind of "meters" - here you can donate money for the homeless. I thought the idea was pretty nifty. I don't know whether they collect much money here, but since I saw a few of them I guess that they have some success with them. Maybe this is something my city should try.

So - will Kaefer go to Cal Poly? She definitely liked it. But does she like it enough to actually commit to it?