Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Life Disrupted

Since midnight we are under an shelter-in-place order, joining six or seven other counties in the Bay Area. I just received the Nixle alert that Napa County will follow suit the day after tomorrow. We are supposed to stay at home for the next three weeks, and I have called it "house arrest". Of course it isn't anything like that. We can still go to the grocery store and the pharmacy; we can walk in the neighborhood or take a hike as long as we keep a distance of six feet to anybody else. The goal is to slow and hopefully eventually stop the rapid spread of the coronavirus. While this step should have been put in place weeks ago if the threat had been taken more seriously by our government, I'm glad that our local politicians have acted decisively.

While other people panic bought and hoarded toilet paper I went to the nursery yesterday and bought some plants so I can play in my garden. Yesterday I planted a pomegranate tree, something that had been on my mind for quite some time. The orange blossoms make my heart sing and the fruit is delicious. I still remember fondly the freshly pressed pomegranate juice in Turkey.

The garden has been waking up - the daffodils are long gone. My tulips came back, the peonies are pushing through the soil and the lilac is close to flowering.

I'm currently on spring break, but the high school will remain closed as well and teachers and students are getting ready for online teaching. As of today I don't know whether I need to go back to work next week since we're only two employees working in the library; I wouldn't mind going into work since I still have many textbooks to process and could do all the things that I haven't found the time for during the past several weeks.

Our German School has closed as well, but I'm keeping in touch with my students, sending them worksheets etc. Next week we will start online teaching - I'm currently figuring out the platform for it and will then test it with the staff at our campus. Ah, never a dull moment.

Apart from that there is lots I can do. Knitting, for example. I just finished this bird hat (and already sold it in my Etsy shop; I'm currently working on another one) and this pair of striped mismatched socks. Fortunately I have a good stockpile of yarn, and if I ever run out I can just email my local yarn store to get more.

I have also started to paint again. What a coincidence - I've signed up for a free five-day course called "The Layered Page" by Kellee Wynne - the tutorials are short videos of about 20 minutes, packed with ideas and techniques. I haven't painted or done any kind of mixed media art for two years or so and thoroughly enjoy this endeavor. Finally I've worked with the Gelli Plate that I got two or three years ago and hadn't used until this class. It's so much fun to create paper and collages.

And there's time for baking! Today I baked a loaf of whole wheat bread and a German hazelnut braid. Both are delicious - I'm afraid this "shelter-in-place" will result in a few more pounds on my hips.

We're also still getting mail - just today I received two gardening books that I had ordered. You can never have too many gardening books. The title under Kibeau's tail reads "Deer Resistant Design".

Do you think I will hit boredom anytime soon?

Sunday, March 1, 2020

The Lonesome Crab Cage

When I recently walked along the mostly deserted beach I came upon a crab cage or crab pot that was standing upright beneath a huge piece of driftwood. I first saw it from further away and couldn't quite make out what it actually was, but it became clear when I approached it. It must have been deposited here during a very high tide. Of course I took a closer look and put my camera to use.

Here on the West Coast crab cages are mainly used for catching Dungeness crab, both commerically and recreationally. Dungeness crab season starts on November 2nd, but over the past two years it had been delayed because of too few or too small crabs. The last full season we had was in 2017-2018. This season only started in December, a whole month late, and most of the commercial fishermen have already stopped since there were fewer crabs. There are still some very hardy fishermen who hold on and will try to catch crab until April. It's a hard way to make a living.

Crab of course is the main food at a crab feed of which we used to have quite a lot all over the county in the first few months of the year. Crab feeds are fundraisers, and we once were invited by our neighbors in our old neighborhood to join them. It was a lot of fun, albeit a bit messy.

Then I remembered that I had my lensball with me - I had fun playing around with it.

I wonder whether the crab cage will still be there when I go to the beach the next time.

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.