Monday, December 31, 2018

December Reflections

In Germany we call this time between Christmas and New Year's Eve "between the years" (zwischen den Jahren). It's a time when we often have a break and consequently more free time - time to reflect on the year that is almost over and looking towards the new year that's almost here. I'm off work from both the high school and the German School right now which is a more than welcome break from the quite hectic days at both schools. Kaefer has been home since the third weekend in December and will be here for another week before she, too, needs to get back to the work and college life.

I do love the more quiet time after Christmas. Since we celebrate on Christmas Eve as is our German tradition, Christmas Day itself was very relaxing with playing games and cooking (and eating) a good meal for dinner. Kaefer and I did a complete re-run of all the Downton Abbey episodes - binge watching at its best for almost two weeks - and enjoyed the Christmas special of "Call the Midwife", our favorite TV series. We were invited to a lovely 65th birthday party which resulted in some great dancing and lots of laughter. The clutter in my studio has bugged me for a long time and I finally cleaned out at lot of stuff and brought it to the thrift store that specializes crafts supplies. I have been working in the garden - there has been a lot of trimming back and I'm still not done. We had frosty mornings and mild days - oh, how do I love the Northern Californian winter. We also had some heavy rain which is always much needed in this area, and it has kept away the fears of wildfires for now.

Good old-fashioned German Glühwein

For the entire month of December I have joined Susannah Conway's "December reflections 2018" challenge on Instagram which I enjoyed very much and is a beautiful tool to go back and reflect about the year. If you want to you can see the results on my Instagram.

This was a mixed year and not everything was good. But when I look back it's mainly the good thinks that stand out for me - our trip to Istanbul, a Turkish wedding, traveling in Turkey and Ireland. 10 marvelous days on the Big Island where we could enjoy the wild beauty of Puna before many parts of it were consumed by the lava spilling out of fissure 8 a few months later. Some lovely hikes and seeing how nature bounces back after the devastating wildfires of October 2017. We're seeing burned down neighborhoods springing back to life, fire survivors re-building their homes. Our daughter was traveling in Europe on her own, then going to Dubai and finally to Cape Town where she was doing an internship in two hospitals, experiencing a completely different life. It is delightful to see the young woman she is growing into.

The last of the roses in December, "Anna's Promise"

But I also felt a bit in a rat hole. November and the first part of December have been very busy in my shop and I was constantly knitting - my hats sold like hot cakes. It's lovely, of course, but I do feel that I would also love to knit something else. Over the past two weeks I have started to knit a baby sweater which I enjoy, and a cat pillow that is not quite as fun to knit as I had thought. However, I would also love to go back to painting. I actually did paint a bit over the summer and it felt so good to have paint on my hands again. So I decided to enroll in a year long online class, hoping that my creative juices will flow a bit more easily again. I also took part in a short five-day journaling class - actually "took part" is not quite the correct term since I mainly took notes, but it gave me a considerable amount to think about. Wonderful beginnings for 2019.

For the new year I wish that my family and friends stay healthy and happy. I hope that our country will be kinder than it is right now and that common sense finds its way back here.

To all of you a lovely 2019 - may the new year give you many reasons to laugh and experience the joy of life.

Sunset on Christmas Eve

Sunday, December 2, 2018

An Image and Its Story - November 2018

When it comes to taking photos, November pretty much didn't happen. For almost two weeks I couldn't get out of the house (except for short grocery shopping trips and driving to work) because of the bad air quality, and when I did I certainly wasn't in the mood spending much time taking photos (try holding a camera in front of your eyes without pushing the filtered mask you're wearing deeper into your face all the time...). On top of that I was very busy in both my jobs and my small business that everything that was not somehow connected to these was simply left undone.

But then it was Thanksgiving and that meant driving to Davis to pick up Kaefer (and dropping her off again a few days later). That's when the photos happened! The drive to Davis was during the first rain when the air finally started to improve. I couldn't resist stopping my car and getting out to photograph those fog covered vineyards in the Napa Valley; and on the Sunday, it was sunny and clear and again, I stopped in Napa Valley to capture the vineyard right before the sunset.

The grapes in the foreground were already in the shade of the mountains, but the colors were so beautiful and vibrant. Whenever I passed this particular vineyard I always loved the look of the rows of grapes with the wind machines in between. Quite handily there's a small bay by the road where I could stop safely without blocking other traffic. The wind machines are used to blow warmer air from above into the grapes when there is frost - yes, we do have frost here. Frost for grapes is bad - that's why there are so many wind machines in our vineyards. I find them quite picturesque.

We may not have the spectacular autumn colors of trees like in New England, but our vineyards make up for that big time. Depending on the grape you can find all shades from light yellow to a deep burgundy red. It is a brilliant show that I enjoy every year.