Thursday, March 5, 2015

Stately Fence

You are probably not surprised that this week's fence comes from Olompali State Park. This park doesn't only have beautiful trees and an abundance of Calla Lilies but also some fences that look quite nice. Knipsa will be delighted to learn that there will be a "rusty" post about the park in the near future as well!

From this fence you can see the view over to San Pablo Bay, and I imagine that from the hiking trails that are higher up in the park the view is even more fantastic. I will find out one day!

For now I just leave you with the fence and the beautiful trees in this park. In a few months, the green will be gone and the dominating color will be brown again. This is why I love winter so much - it turns everything green, in a wonderful fresh green.

Of course I'm linking up to Theresa's Good Fences.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Meandering Lilies

Last Saturday when I visited Olompali State Park, the first thing I noticed before even entering the parking lot were the beautiful trees and the Calla Lilies that grow here in abundance.

They follow the creek that you can only hear but not see. It's lovely how they meander through the meadow and past the trees.

Processed with Kim's texture "kk_evolve2"

There were many lovely spots that showed the wilderness of this place and where the Calla Lilies emerged.

I'm usually not a big fan of Calla Lilies, but here in this park, at this creek I loved them. They were perfect and belonged here.

I'm linking up with Kim's Texture Tuesday.

Cattails are wonderful plants we find in nature as well,
often in wild places next to a lake or river.
They make beautiful photo cards, available in my Etsy store.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Gratitude

After having read my blog this week, what do you think I am most grateful for this Sunday?

Yes, of course, the US citizenship that we received last Wednesday. It's been a big step, a long process with such a happy ending.

I am also deeply thankful for all the kind reactions I got, especially from you, my friends. You showed so much kindness and joy for and with me, it truly touched my heart. I feel so blessed because of you. Thank you.

This week was also our wedding anniversary - 17 years. I am such a lucky woman to have a husband like him. He is a good man, and I love him. I can't imagine my life without him. We went through some tough times together, but also some incredible happy times, and I still cherish his humor. He is the best companion I could ever imagine.

I enjoy our evening walks. Almost every evening after dinner we take a short or sometimes longer walk through the neighborhood. It's the time when none of us is busy with anything else, it's just for the two of us when we can talk or also be quiet together. It has become a beautiful routine in our life.

Yesterday I discovered a new state park, Olompali Historic State Park. While Kaefer was at German School I went to this park and explored it a little bit. Next time I'll take my hiking boots and hike up one of those trails! It's beautiful up there with lots of gorgeous trees. I love trees and this was some kind of paradise for me. How lucky we are to live in such a beautiful area.

I spent a lot of time in my front garden, redoing the garden path I had made two years ago. It was just a little bit too straight, and I wanted it more in a meandering way. The hummingbird sage is spreading out as well and got into the path which I didn't like either. Every time I walked along there I had to push the pink flowering currant to the side which isn't ideal either. It was just poor planning on my side. So I finally pulled out the path stones and laid them in a different way through the flowers. It looks so much more beautiful now. I'm still not done because I ran out of the path stones. I need to go to Home Depot and get some more. I also transplanted my coffeeberry bush since it clearly wasn't happy in the place it was and got crowded out by some salvia. This has been resolved now. And there's still a lot of trimming and pruning going on.

And last but not least, we got some rain yesterday on our way back from Novato. It was raining so hard that we could hardly see the cars in front of us. The sky had turned very dark, there was some lightning, and then the hail started. It was over after ten minutes.

How was your week?

Spring means gardening.
Write down ideas for your garden in a journal 
available in my Etsy store.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Invisible Fence or Becoming a US Citizen

For this post for Theresa's Good Fences I have to ask you to really think outside the box. My fence this week is not a real physical fence but an invisible one. The one which prevented us to vote in the US, to apply for certain jobs, even to serve on a jury.

We couldn't do this. There was an invisible fence around our lives for the past 14 years.

Until yesterday, Wednesday, February 25th, 2015. The day we became US citizens.

We had gone through the process of applying for citizenship, got our biometrics taken as a second step, were invited to the interview in January - and finally received the letter with the invitation to the oath ceremony in Oakland's Paramount Theatre.

Oh the joy!!

We had to be there by 9:15. For us this means to get on the road early to avoid most of the morning rush hour through Sonoma and Marin Counties where US 101 becomes clogged almost every morning during the week. We left shortly after six and arrived in Oakland around 7:30 which gave us ample time for our last breakfast as pure Germans.

I had a very tasty breakfast crepe - and in the background you can see the Paramount Theatre.

Here it is in its full glory:

It was built in 1931 and is a beautiful Art Deco building. It started out as a movie theater and today is the home of  the Oakland East Bay Symphony.

When we were done with our breakfast we walked over even though it was still way too early. However, there were already lines and we decided to get in line and wait with the crowd.

Soon afterwards, the doors were opened and we entered the beautiful lobby. All the following pictures were taken in rather bad light and unfortunately are very blurry.

The ceiling in the auditorium and the lower floor where the soon-to-be citizens were seated while family members and friends had to stay at the gallery (these pictures were taken at the very beginning when most people were still outside).

We first saw a beautiful slide show with old pictures from Ellis Island; an address by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (on video) who herself emigrated from Czechoslovakia at the age of 11 (I didn't know that); some patriotic songs performed by the ensemble "Tosca" with one of the most moving parts of the ceremony, when we all sang Woody Guthrie's "This land is your land" - ooh, I still get goosebumps! We had representatives from Voter Registration, Passport Department and Social Security tell us about our new rights followed by a short keynote speech. Then the calling of the countries was announced - there were 1037 people from 97 countries! What I like was that we were encouraged to cheer for our country which of course I did when Germany was called. We were asked to stand up when our country was called, and when everybody stood we took the Oath of Allegiance. With that we were US citizens - at 10:15 am.

Before we all sang the Star Spangled Banner our President appeared on video with a short speech addressing us, the new citizens. I am very happy and grateful that I received my citizenship during his presidency.

We said the Pledge of Allegiance and then the ceremony was officially over and each of us got her or his Certificate of Naturalization. After that we were free to go.

One story I have to tell you because it was sweet and probably rather unusual (and very typical for me). At the entrance to the auditorium we had to give our Green Card to the immigration officer. When "my" immigration officer took my card, I touched two of my fingers with my lips and then touched the card that was already in his hands in a kind of goodbye kiss (after all, this card was with me for 10 years and I had protected it like mad). The officer laughed, showed me one of his cheeks and said "what about a kiss here?". Then he saw the Geek, realized that he is my husband and just laughed. Later, when he gave us the certificates, he laughed again and I asked him whether he still wanted his kiss. After a reassuring nod from the Geek I gave him a kiss on his cheek - and he sure was happy! A little bit later he came back to us, saying "I want to congratulate you again. I had so much fun with you guys." I guess he doesn't get too many kisses from the new citizens...

So now I am a "dear fellow American". It feels right. I am also still a German since we have dual citizenship. That, too, feels right.

And for those of you who still want to see a real fence, here is one that I shot on our way home, in the beautiful rolling hills of my county.

The perfect card for a new US citizen,
available in my Etsy store.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hell's Backbone

I've seldom seen a place with such a fitting name as Hell's Backbone.

This is a rather short stretch of spectacular Highway 12 in Utah that connects Capitol Reef National Park with Bryce Canyon National Park. It's only a few miles - but these are extraordinary.

When you approach this particular part it looks like this:

Quite okay, really. In this picture you just don't realize how steep the land falls down left of the highway. Oh, and by the way, it does the very same on the right - as you can see in this image.

Which means that the road runs along this narrow part with steep cliffs on both sides. Hence the name.

Hell's Backbone.

I don't think they could have called it more accurately. There's also a place nearby - a tiny town or village, a settlement - that is called Hell's Backbone. It's probably harmless compared to this stretch of highway.

The views from the backbone are spectacular. To the left...

... and to the right....

I love this particular stretch of Highway 12. Whenever we drive along here - and we have done so often - I get excited and look forward to these few miles. Usually I am the one who drives here.

Yes, I know I'm crazy.


This is Bryce Canyon as a photo art card,
available in my Etsy store.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Gratitude

Hello Sunday evening!

It has been a busy week with work, school stuff, doctors appointments and waiting in line at the post office. Now it's time for some gratitude.

A new regional park was opened last weekend and the Geek and I decided to go for a hike there on Monday (remember? that was a holiday). While it was still busy, we didn't experience the craziness of the two days before. It was easy to find a parking space, chat with the ranger and then take off. The park has a sunny part and a shady trail through the redwood trees, connecting to a bigger state park. We chose the sunny part, leaving the shady part for the hot days in summer.

It was beautiful. We hiked up the mountain where we were rewarded with wonderful views over the mountains, vineyards and the plain over to the Coastal Range where the coastal fog already rolled in. We heard birds and listened to the wind rustling in the leaves of the trees. It was so relaxing and refreshing. How lucky we are to have such a jewel so close by!

After our hike we went shopping at CostPlus World Market on our way back home - the Geek still had a coupon we wanted to use. Lucky for us they had a special on a German chocolate we love and bought quite a bit of that. It's always nice to have little reminders of our native country at home!

The first tulip of the season appeared in my garden! Tulips usually don't do too well here since winters are not cold enough. When I buy bulbs - these ones I got at Costco - I first give them a six week chill in my fridge before they go in the ground. Even then they are only good for one season and seldom come back the following year. I simply can't imagine a spring garden without tulips, so I repeat this every year. The nice thing about it is that I can always have different colors. These ones are yellowish-white with a pink edge around the petals.

Our coyotes are still here. At the beginning of the week they were very close and howled at 5:00 in the morning which actually got our neighbors talking. Many didn't know what this "eerie" sound (their words) was, and we advised everybody to take special care of their cats and small dogs.

I have worked at lot in the garden and am still not done. Last year's poppies have re-seeded like crazy and are crowding out the other plants. So I am out there almost every day pulling poppies and thinning them out. I'm also planning to change the path through the garden (this is at the front of the house) - I have lots of ideas anyway. I enjoy my garden every day and I love the work. It feels so good to spend many hours outside and work up a thorough sweat.

And our sunsets - they are still spectacular.

I feel so blessed.

What about you?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Blue Bird

You probably know that I love birds. Beside the real birds in my garden I also have little terracotta birds sitting in the birdbaths or on a stake among the flowers.

This little guy is not very new - I found it a few weeks ago in a crafts store. Immediately when I saw it I knew that I had to take it home. It has such a sweet face, I simply couldn't resist.

It usually sits on my dining table right next to the blue mason jar or a vase of flowers - it depends on my mood and what I have. Perhaps it will move outside in the summer, sit in one of the birdbaths waiting for the birds to stop by for a drink.

Just this week I realized again how much I like this little guy. And I took some photos of it just for the fun. The following photo I "grunged" up a little bit with Kim's preset "kk_grunged".

I'm sharing my little blue bird with Kim's Friday Finds. Would you love to see more Friday Finds, usually presented with some beautiful photography? Just hop over for a list!


The newest handmade bird card in my Etsy store