Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Escaping the Heat

We're currently having a rather bad heatwave here. Without any air conditioning we close up the house in the morning as soon as temperatures rise and only open doors and windows when temperatures are slightly lower outside, put on the fans and let the breeze get into the house and cool it down.

Last Sunday, on Father's Day, it was a 106 F. Way too hot for us, and so we decided to go up North to the coast. Our destination was Glass Beach in Fort Bragg where we enjoyed a comfortable 74 F. Bliss!

So what is Glass Beach and what are these people doing there?

Looking for sea glass of course! This used to be an area where from 1906 to 1967 garbage was dumped, especially glass. There are actually three Glass Beach sites and they have become quite the tourist destination. Everybody is looking for their personal favorite pieces. Before we headed out to find our own sea glass we made sure that it was okay to take it, but couldn't find a single sign that it wasn't allowed to collect sea glass.

The sea glass is everywhere. White pieces are the most abundant, but there was also green, blue and brown glass. I especially liked the white pieces with a faint blue shade - sea foam, I guess, is the color called.

The scenery itself is quite breath taking and wild.

We walked along the beach and the cliffs until we decided to have some fresh fish and chips in the harbor. It was nice to sit in the sun without breaking out in a sweat and desperately looking for shade.

This is not a person by the way.... Someone got quite creative here!

Back home I looked at my finds, enjoying that I found three tiny true blue pieces and even a red one. One day they will be added to some kind of artwork.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Veggies And Fruit And Eggs And...

One thing - among many others - Kaefer enjoyed in Davis was the farmers market. Two weeks ago, only shortly before her Freshman year was over, she asked us whether we'd like to come and go to the farmers market with her.

Of course our answer was yes! I love farmers markets, and the one in Davis is a gem. At the beginning of June it already had so much to offer since it is right in the Sacramento Valley which is part of the Central Valley. One of the regions that feed the nation.

There was fruit in abundance - and those peaches, though small, were incredibly sweet and juicy, exactly the way I like it.

Lots and lots of veggies from radishes to onions and beets and even mushrooms, and everything looked so very delicious.

I loved the scale that some of the vendors used - classic!

Herbs either freshly cut or in a pot to plant in your kitchen garden.

I loved this creative marker - great idea. Perhaps I will look for some old forks on my next visit to a thrift store.

Since this is California, there were avocados and raw almonds.

Did I mention eggs?

We were happy to find and eat real German Brezeln, and we could even taste some coffee.

And if you don't like coffee but rather a glass of wine - well, you could taste that as well, and it even was free!

What is a farmers market without lavender?

And when you were done you could sit and listen to the music.

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Year Ago I Thought I Was Done

It has been a year since Kaefer graduated, and it's only three more days until her last final and she will have finished her Freshman year at UC Davis. I still remember her graduation from high school so vividly. The excitement, the heat, the bittersweetness.

And I remember that I thought I was done with everything high school. Finally we would be able to take vacations in the spring or fall when schools all over the country would be in session. We could enjoy lower prices and lesser crowds. Ah, pure bliss.

Of course what followed didn't match that picture.

In the spring of 2016, while Kaefer was still a high school student, I volunteered at her school's library once a week. I enjoyed the work, the environment and the super cool textbook room that I re-organized at that time.

When in August - while we were in Hawai'i! - the school district started to look for a part time library technician for this high school library I didn't hesitate and applied for this position - and I got it. I started working in October, two days a week, which is just perfect since this gives me enough time preparing for my Saturday German classes and work for my Etsy shop. Only the last two weeks and the first two weeks of a school year do I work full time because there is so much to do.

We're pretty busy here. There are only two of us who work in the library and it can get rather loud when the students come in to hang out during break and lunch. Classes come here to study, the computer lab is also in the library and in high demand throughout the day. Most of the students are nice and quite funny teenagers.

While I do like the main library, my "true love" is the textbook room which is the part of the library with the books most often used. Here are all the big textbooks for science, math, history and foreign languages as well as all the reading material - novels, short stories, plays and poems - for the Language Arts. The textbook room is my realm, the part of the library I'm responsible for.

These heavy shelves are movable - just a short click on the handle and they move with a low mumbling sound up to the aisle where I need to get into to get the books a class or student needs. It's like magic and so far it hasn't ceased to fascinate me.

This is what it looks like when you stare through the shelves:

Well, and of course with this kind of work we're back to taking vacations during school breaks. I guess we have to wait to retirement for a chance to go on trips at other times. A big sigh in one regard, but I am also so happy to have found a job that I actually like.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Scene & Story - May 2017

Those of you who have been reading my blog for quite some time know about "my lake" and how much I love it. Recently my walks around the lake have become much less frequently than they used to be due to my work. In May I managed to walk there only once, early in the morning. It was a very spontaneous decision to skip Jazzercise and go to the lake instead.

It was a beautiful morning, and when I saw the rising mist on the water my heart skipped a beat. I love this atmosphere! It is rather challenging for me to capture exactly this mood with my camera, but I simply cannot not try it. I have always loved this particular spot with the pier where often fishermen are patiently doing their work. This morning, however, it was empty. When I looked at the photo afterwards the feeling of solitude spoke to me and it became my favorite photo for May.

I am joining Sarah and León for Scene and Story again as I try to do every first Sunday of a month. You can find more stories here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Peonies For My Mom

My mom used to love peonies. In Germany they are called "Pfingstrosen", roses of Pentecost because they flower around the time of Pentecost which is in late May or June. They would appear in the gardens in colors ranging from pure white to deep red. They are stunningly beautiful flowers.

When my mom died 10 years ago I planted peonies in her memory. Now, peonies in California is a bit of a different story from growing peonies in Germany. Peonies die back in the winter, and usually they need some good frost. A decent amount of rain doesn't hurt either. Both are not necessarily always present in California.

But it can work. I had some lovely peony bushes at our old house. When we moved I didn't have any peonies for a couple of years, but bought them at Trader Joe's instead (like the ones in the photo above). However, last year I planted some peonies. Usually they take a while to bloom for the first time, up to three or four years. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed that two of the bushes carried promising buds. And indeed, they displayed a couple beautiful flowers.

Back home in Germany I used to buy peonies at the farmers market. It was one of my simple joys to go there on a Saturday morning and come back with one of two bunches of them. And not only that - I often mixed them with delphiniums or lupines, whatever I could find at the flower booth.

I loved to arrange them in vases with French lilac or put just one or two flowers in a glass vase and used them as a center piece on the table for dinner with friends,

I remember that I had a lot of fun with that!

But peonies - and other flowers - are also used as decoration in traditional parades. During one parade in Rothenburg ob der Tauber I saw the hat of this man and loved the way it was decorated.

My peonies are almost gone - we had some very hot days, and peonies don't like heat too much. But I know that very soon I will find them at Trader Joe's, and then once again my home will be filled with them. It's as if my mom was still around.


We are having crazy days at work. The school year is almost over - two more weeks - and that means a lot of work for us in the library. Imagine more than 1600 kids returning their textbooks, about three per kid on average, and those things are heavy. Usually I'm pretty worn out when I come home, so it might take a while until I will visit you.