Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Gratitude

Today, our spring break comes to an end. It's back to school and work tomorrow.

It's been a beautiful week and there is a lot to be grateful for.

We all slept in, almost every day. I usually get up at 5:45 during the week, 7:30 on weekends. However, this week, with just a very few exceptions, I slept later than 8:00. This just shows me how much we all needed some rest and really good sleep. Today I feel so much more rested than a week ago.

I enjoyed going to the Swedish bakery in our neighborhood in the morning with the Geek. It was lovely when we met friends there and walked back together, stopping at their garden, chatting and talking about the new gardening season. They had loads of oranges and gave us a few from which we made fresh squeezed juice we had for breakfast. What a treat!

I did a lot of gardening, planting some more peonies and clematis. My French lilac is already blooming and I enjoy its beautiful fragrance. My freesias got knocked down during a brief rain, so I cut them and brought them inside where they filled the house with their lovely scent. They still do, and I enjoy it. The first poppies have opened their beautiful blooms, however, the deer had their share as well. Happy deer...

The Geek built a clothesline for me - out of redwood again, our favorite wood. He added a huge planting box and a trellis on one side and there will be a little "seat" on the other side where I can put the laundry basket while hanging the clothes on the line to dry. I am so happy. Pictures will follow when it will be complete.

It was wonderful just to spend time with my family. Having time to talk during dinner, watching movies afterwards. My daughter loves the British series "Mr Selfridge" and we watched the two seasons together before the third season starts tonight. At the beginning I wasn't too enthusiastic, but then the characters grew on me and I quite like the series now. It is not as good as "Downton Abbey" though.

On Friday we went to the South Bay to go to the German bakery in Los Altos. We had German pretzels, raspberry cheesecake and great coffee. Across from the bakery is a German grocery store and we just loved it - it's wonderful when you find food that you're missing. We also went to IKEA which I always find inspirational, and returned home via Highway 1 up the coast which was lovely and so much more beautiful than boring and crowded 101.

Yesterday Kaefer and I went prom dress shopping. She had some ideas about her prom dress and honestly, they were all a bit on the expensive side. Both my husband and I are very conservative when it comes to spending money, so I offered Kaefer to go with her and see whether we can find something in our stores here instead of doing our shopping online. Guess what? We found quite a lot of affordable AND beautiful dresses and she finally decided to buy a stunning red dress that suits her so well. I'm very proud of her that she didn't mope but went with our suggestions and was a very reasonable girl.

And now it's your turn - what are you grateful for on this Sunday?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

African Daisy Fence

At the moment I am working a lot in my garden. We practically didn't have any kind of winter but have been having spring-like weather since November. It has confused the garden - everything is blooming way early; some plants I didn't cut back to the ground because there were still so many flowers that I didn't dare to trim them. Now they have grown new growth and I don't dare to cut them either. What a dilemma. I know, all of you in the freezing North are probably laughing your heads off, and rightly so.

The African Daisies are flowering like crazy and are growing through our redwood fence that we built a year ago. This is exactly the look I had in mind when we started out with our fence. It makes me so happy and I have heard from many passers by that they enjoy it, too.

Gardening just makes me happy.

I am linking up with Theresa's Good Fences over at the Run A Round Ranch.


There are pink flowers in my Etsy store
pink Cosmos as a photo card


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Swan Drama and the Silent Witness

While I was at the small lake last week I watched a swan who was building a nest for his future family. However, he was disturbed repeatedly by a pair of Canada Geese which he didn't like at all. Of course he chased them away.

Canada Geese, however, don't seem to be the smartest birds on planet Earth. They came back to the swan's nest over and over again. Guess who didn't like that? Here he is taking off to teach these annoying geese a lesson.

They are so graceful! And you should have heard the swoosh-swoosh of the wings while he was gliding over the water.

He landed right next to his nest where the geese were hanging out. But not for much longer!

He flapped his imposing wings. However, the geese don't seem to be very impressed by that.

So the swan decided to get on the nest. The geese knew that this would be unpleasant for them and took off.

The swan followed them immediately and chased them away.

Very satisfied with himself and his success the swan showed everybody around who was the master of the lake in this area.

He then returned to his nest and groomed himself thoroughly.

Wagging his tail proudly. But wait - who is sitting there on his nest? Who has witnessed the entire drama completely unmoved?

You can almost see a stiff upper lip!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Gratitude

It's already Sunday evening while I'm writing this - somehow I didn't find the time to write my post the entire day. It's the start of spring break and we were contemplating whether we should go down to San Luis Obispo and visit CalPoly, one of the universities Kaefer is contemplating to go to after she graduates from High School next year. However, since she said she will apply there no matter what and she really doesn't need to see the campus first and gets all the information she needs from their website, we decided to stay home for the week and perhaps do a couple day trips instead and work on some projects we have been planning for some time.

Yesterday we (other German friends and us) did a huge rummage sale as a fundraiser for our friend D. who has stomach cancer and has just finished her third round of chemo. I am grateful for all the volunteers of our German group who organized and helped at this event. We raised a good amount of money for D. and got rid of a lot of stuff at the same time. By the end of the day, the owner of the place were we held the sale took everything that wasn't sold and brought it to a charity organization who are thankful for any help they can get. Thus we actually helped two good causes. We were tired, sweaty and rather dirty (and probably smelly), but very contend. Unfortunately D. is not doing well at all and is currently in the ICU in one of our hospitals.

I met with my friend K. and we spent the morning at the Salvation Army thrift store center and yard in a small town nearby. We had a really good time - I found a few books and while K. was looking for clothes I walked around the area and took some pictures. Green hills and beautiful trees - it looks so lovely at this time of year.

Two mornings this week I spent at the lakes - the big one and the smaller one that is very close to the big one. While I did see almost no water birds at the big lake (except for the geese and ducks), I found them all two days later at the smaller one - Black-crowned Night Herons only a few feet away from me, Green Herons in flight and I witnessed some swan drama when the swan defended the nest he was just building against a pair of Canada geese who came out to tease him again and again. Stupid geese - you don't mess with an angry swan!!

I'm sure you know the song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. That's a song I am grateful for because whenever I hear it I feel happy, I smile and everything is just a little bit better. I start to move, I can't help it. Don't know the song? You can listen to it here.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Red-Winged Blackbirds on Foggy Fences

When I visited the Laguna last week I saw an abundance of Red-winged Blackbirds. I wondered whether they already had spring feelings. The males were active, calling their unique call and spreading their wings so that the red parts were very well visible.

It was a very foggy morning, but that didn't keep them from flying around and making a lot of "noise". I actually like their call; it's very unique. You can listen to it here.

This photo is completely blurry, however, I wanted to show you what it looks like when these birds fly - isn't the red of their wings just amazing?

They were not only sitting on fence posts but also on the dried up plants in the Laguna - perfect perches for them.

Can you see the fence back there in the fog?

I'm linking up with Theresa's Good Fences over at the Run A Round Ranch.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday Gratitude

It's hard to believe that another week has passed so quickly.

Our week here started with foggy mornings. Often the coastal fog hangs around for quite a while and eventually burns off to blue skies and bright sunshine. On Monday instead of going to my Jazzercise class I went to the Laguna for a walk and some very foggy photos. It was a beautiful start to a new week and set the tone for the days to come. I enjoyed the fog, the wonderful trees and the many birds that call the Laguna their home.

We finally had some rain again - not much, but a little is still better than non at all. It was enough to get some moisture into the ground - not only the garden was thankful!

This week I once again realized how much I love where I live. Although Santa Rosa has a population of 160,000, it often feels more like a small town. When I go to our neighborhood market I am always greeted; the sushi men throws a "how are you" to me, the butcher has a couple of jokes. One of the staffers and I usually stop for a brief chat and a laugh - she has been working in that market forever. At the post office - not the main one but a smaller branch - waiting in line is seldom boring as there is always someone who strikes up a conversation. The clerk is super nice and has a delightful positive attitude. If I need a pick-me-up I just have to go there!

I spent a creative morning with my friend K. She was sorting through photos, I was creating graduation cards (soon in my Etsy store). We chatted, sat outside on her deck, talked about gardening and I got my "dog fix". We usually just spend three or four hours together, but these hours always feel like a mini vacation.

Yesterday it was so warm that we had our first BBQ and ate dinner outside. Afterwards we sat around the fire and had pie for Pi day. I love these warmer days when I can finally drive with the windows rolled down. It wasn't too warm but not cool either, just right for having the windows open in our home all day long. The perfect weather.

And finally - yesterday I received my US passport in the mail! Wow - that was fast. It took less than two weeks; I'm quite impressed. The passport is beautiful - every page inside looks different with pretty pictures and great quotes. Of course I love it!

You might think everything is nice and pretty in my life. It is not. There are enough challenges and not so nice things happening in my life just like in everybody else's. However, I have decided to look at the bright side and focus on those things that bring light and happiness into my life.

I hope you can do that with your life as well. I wish all of you a wonderful week.


Do you have a graduate in your life?
Send her or him a handmade card from my Etsy store.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Dark Mood

This year I've signed up for Kim Klassen's Be Still 52 and of course, I'm already a few weeks behind. But no worries - I love how Kim always tells us to do this class on our own pace, that it is more important to quiet down the noise and get still than to hasten and get all the shots in we want. That's my style!

In one of the lessons she introduced a new preset for Lightroom called kk_darkmood. She had a short video how to tweak the photo while using this preset. I liked what I saw and tried it myself on a few of my images.

What can I say? I love it. I'm pretty sure this is going to be one of my favorite presets. When I work with textures, I have my go-to textures, and I guess this will be a go-to preset.

This is my Friday Find for this week - I know it will stay with me.

All the images are processed with kk_darkmood.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mountain Lions Are Cowards

When I showed you the fence in Olompali State Park last week I deliberately left out one part of the fence - it's the same fence in a different area. I want you to look at the very right of the fence - yes, there is a sign. Two signs actually. A brown one and an almost white one.

Let's get closer. Those of you familiar with this kind of signs will recognize them. The brown one just tells you not to enter this area in order to protect natural features. That area is closed because they're restoring the habitat. So please don't climb over the fence.

The lower is a bit more severe, a warning that shouldn't be taken lightly. Those of you in the West know what I am talking about.

Cougars. Mountain Lions. Pumas.

Around where I live these signs are pretty common. We see them in every state park, every part of wilderness. Mountain lions live here. Sometimes they even come into urban areas. A couple years ago a cougar was seen by the security cameras at my husband's company's work site. One was roaming a golf course (it might have been the same one). A few more years ago a mountain lion was seen in the neighborhood where I live now. As they say - where there are deer there is a cougar. At least here in the West.

Notice that the sign advises to avoid hiking alone. Well, I often hike alone. So far I've never seen a cougar - but I'm pretty sure that the cougar has seen me. More than once, probably. I remember a few years ago, when I was hiking in Annadel State Park on my own I suddenly got this really weird feeling - like someone was watching me. The hairs on my back literally raised! When I saw mountain lion scat on the trail before me I knew that I better had to turn around - which I did, and after a couple hundred yards the weird feeling stopped. I'm pretty sure that a cougar had been close by, and it probably was wise to turn around.

I didn't really want to make the acquaintance of these paws.

Nor of those teeth.

One day I was talking to one of the rangers in the park, asking him how very likely it was to run into a mountain lion. He told me that they are around but usually don't get into the way of humans. I shouldn't tie my shoe under a tree - the cougar might rest up in there (after that I found myself scanning every tree next to the trail). Then he said "Mountain lions are cowards. They usually attack from the back".

Now that put my mind at rest!

These last three photos I took a few years ago in the Arizona Sonoran Desert  Museum in Tucson.

I'm linking my cougar fence to Theresa's Good Fences over at the Run Around Ranch.

Interested in mountain lions?
I have a set of photo cards in my Etsy store.