Thursday, August 8, 2019

Passing of Summer

Last Monday, after almost eight weeks of summer break, I went back to work. In all honesty I was not looking forward to it. The summer had been just too beautiful to say goodbye to these almost carefree weeks easily. But the new school year starts next Wednesday and there is a ton to do in the library before that.

At the beginning of the summer break I had made a list of things I would like to do during those weeks. I was afraid that I would just waste my time and by the end of the break would look back on missed opportunities with a lot of regret.

Instead, I look back on eight delightful and fulfilling weeks - without having touched each and every item on my list.

Hardly a week into my break the Geek and I went to San Jose to meet with Kaefer who was about to buy her very first car, a used VW Golf with a manual transmission. She is so happy about it since it gives her a bit more independence even though she is still riding her bike most of the time.

After this first week of mainly doing nothing I started to "work" on my list. I spent a day in Sonoma where I visited the mission and the old barracks;

I spent a morning in the beautiful lavender gardens of a winery:

Many mornings I took long walks around my beloved lake;

I re-discovered the laguna with its interesting plants, crooked trees and beautiful birds (can you see the California Quail?);

And I walked along the beach, something I do way too seldom even though the ocean always calms me and gives me inner peace.

Kaefer came home for the Fourth of July week since this was the only week she didn't have to work (she had started her summer job right after finals in June). We didn't do much - once we went champagne tasting (she turned 21 in April), but apart from that we just hang out, watching British mystery shows, playing games and drinking traditional German Erdbeerbowle.

I spent a lot of time reading and knitting (this is the start of a little dress for our newest family member in Turkey) and I even painted a bit!

Before the summer I got back into the habit of journaling. I had lost my ability to write my journal after the fires and I couldn't find a way back to it. It seemed like something was completely blocked in me. I hated it. Over winter break I had taken a free writing class which was like a little teaser; it motivated me to take a more in-depth writing class in the spring and it eventually helped me to get back into writing my journal. This is one of the things that makes me unbelievably happy.

I said one of the things... the other is photography. Somehow - even though I was still photographing a lot - I had lost my "flow" with photography. Sure, I still took a lot of pictures, mainly with my phone (I got a new phone this year with an excellent camera which is wonderful but also involves the risk of becoming lazy), but it wasn't the same passion. However, I have experienced these "waves" more than once during the more than four decades of photographing, so I wasn't too worried; but I did want to find my old passion again.

And I did. Since I spent so much time on my own this summer I could right dive back into my photography and I enjoyed it so much. I tried different takes of the same motif and it felt so darn good. I don't know WHY photography makes me so incredibly happy, I only know that it DOES.

The last weekend in July the Geek and I spent in Gualala, just two hours up north from where we live, at the coast. I had rented a cabin that was in the redwoods, but right across the water - we could hear the ocean on our little deck. We enjoyed sunsets over the ocean, walked on the cliffs, ate (too much) peanut butter cheesecake and just delighted in the beautiful scenery.

During my last week of break I wanted to have one more day at the ocean and went down to the Point Reyes National Seashore where I walked out on the spit and back along Limantour Beach. It was one of those typical Northern California summer days - sunny and warm, even hot, but the moment you come to the beach fog envelopes you and the temperature drops by 20 degrees. Ah, Northern California, how much I love it!

And then break was almost over - one last Sunday spent in San Francisco with our favorite girl. We spent several hours in the Exploratorium (I hadn't been there since they had moved to Pier 15 from their old location at the Palace of Arts), rode the historical streetcar of the F Line, ate fish and chips near Fisherman's Wharf and walked along Crissy Field Beach.

It was a beautiful summer.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

An Image and Its Story - July 2019

My garden is mostly a low water garden with many native and drought tolerant plants. I'm also not a particular friend of dahlias. Dahlias need water and can be quite finicky. Not seldom their leaves attract powdery mildew, and often their tubular roots need to be uprooted for the winter (fortunately not in our climate).

So why is the image of a dahlia my chosen photo for the month of July?

Because there are dahlias that are so beautiful that I just can't resist them. These are dahlias with dark red or even black leaves with simple blooms consisting of eight petals and a dark center. They are hybrids with names that all start with "mystic". They are true eye candy and if they are not set in the full sun their water needs are only moderate. Their flowers are spectacular and beautiful bright color spots in the garden.

What is not to love?

I certainly love these dahlias, that don't demand all the attention. They have been coming back faithfully after the winter and delighted me with their happy colors. While they are not part of the pollinator garden, they play their beautiful role in the shadier parts of the garden that need some brilliant color.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Paris in July 2019 - Un Appartement sous le Toit

During our visit to Paris in the summer of 2014 we stayed in an apartment in Rue Molière just off Avenue de l'Opéra. It was a typical old building where you first had to go into an inner courtyard before entering the house.

Our apartment was right beneath the roof which meant climbing stairs - many stairs. You're asking for an elevator? Are you kidding?

But once we reached our apartment we entered a charming little realm.

The couple from whom we rented this apartment lives here in the "slow" season, but during the busy late spring, summer and early fall they are living on a boat on the Seine. They were both artists and the apartment was filled with their art.

The entrance was full with book shelves loaded with books and paintings. From here we directly came into the living/dining room.

At the far end of the dining section was a tiny kitchen.

A very steep staircase - more like a ladder - led up to the two sleeping areas.

This is the view from the top of the ladder. It was wise to be very careful and not just half awake.

The "door" to the bathroom (off the living room) ...

... and - tada - the bathroom!

Even though we were living in the middle of Paris it was very quiet. The view out of the windows in the roof wasn't spectacular, but very Paris.

This is my last post for Tamara's Paris in July on her blog Thyme for Tea. It was fun to participate and re-visit all those memories.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

One Hundred Days in My Garden

You all know that I love my garden. Hardly a day goes by that I don't find something exciting or beautiful and worth photographing. Especially in the exciting months from April to about October when the garden is changing constantly I love to be out documenting all the happenings.

So when the annual #The100DayProject came up with people committing to 100 days of exploring their creativity I decided I'm exploring the ways to take photos of the exciting things happening in my garden. I thought it would be easy to find something worth to show every day.

Well, I started out with - missing the starting day! Somehow I had it in my head that the challenge would start on April 6th, but when I saw pictures with the appropriate hashtag turning up on Instagram I realized I had it all wrong - the challenge had already started on April 2nd. Oh well, so I was just trundling a few days behind. Who cares anyway?

We had a very rainy April which resulted in a lot of grey photos with raindrops on plants. But the moment the weather became warmer and there was less rain the garden exploded. It's been a while since it had been that well soaked and it sure showed. Everything in the garden was just spectacular (the weeds as well...).

I included garden decor as well since there are a few objects in my garden that I simply love. This little angel that no one wanted because he has a broken toe has found his home sitting on some driftwood among the yarrow and fernleaf lavender.

Another angel is talking to a bird - angels and birds are good company!

This year I had a lot of poppies in my garden again. I used to have almost a meadow at the beginning of creating my garden, but then pulled the poppies before they could go to seed in order to reduce the number of them. However, in that following year I missed their happy colors, so I let those that were still there go to seed again. This year was exactly the right balance!

At the end of May the front garden looked like this:

There weren't only flowers - I also planted vegetables and herbs. This is the flower of chive.

I discovered butterflies and caterpillars; the bees are buzzing around like crazy; all kinds of beneficial bugs are hanging out in the flowers; and of course many birds come here as well.

For the first time my Rudbeckia "Indian Summer" turned out to be spectacular. All the years before they didn't do very well and I always felt like I'm an excellent Rudbeckia-killer.

I have to admit that on some days I ran out of steam - one evening when I still hadn't posted anything I actually took a picture of the glass of wine I was drinking while sitting out in the garden. Well, it was one of those 100 days in my garden, wasn't it?