Thursday, August 8, 2019

Passing of Summer

Last Monday, after almost eight weeks of summer break, I went back to work. In all honesty I was not looking forward to it. The summer had been just too beautiful to say goodbye to these almost carefree weeks easily. But the new school year starts next Wednesday and there is a ton to do in the library before that.

At the beginning of the summer break I had made a list of things I would like to do during those weeks. I was afraid that I would just waste my time and by the end of the break would look back on missed opportunities with a lot of regret.

Instead, I look back on eight delightful and fulfilling weeks - without having touched each and every item on my list.

Hardly a week into my break the Geek and I went to San Jose to meet with Kaefer who was about to buy her very first car, a used VW Golf with a manual transmission. She is so happy about it since it gives her a bit more independence even though she is still riding her bike most of the time.

After this first week of mainly doing nothing I started to "work" on my list. I spent a day in Sonoma where I visited the mission and the old barracks;

I spent a morning in the beautiful lavender gardens of a winery:

Many mornings I took long walks around my beloved lake;

I re-discovered the laguna with its interesting plants, crooked trees and beautiful birds (can you see the California Quail?);

And I walked along the beach, something I do way too seldom even though the ocean always calms me and gives me inner peace.

Kaefer came home for the Fourth of July week since this was the only week she didn't have to work (she had started her summer job right after finals in June). We didn't do much - once we went champagne tasting (she turned 21 in April), but apart from that we just hang out, watching British mystery shows, playing games and drinking traditional German Erdbeerbowle.

I spent a lot of time reading and knitting (this is the start of a little dress for our newest family member in Turkey) and I even painted a bit!

Before the summer I got back into the habit of journaling. I had lost my ability to write my journal after the fires and I couldn't find a way back to it. It seemed like something was completely blocked in me. I hated it. Over winter break I had taken a free writing class which was like a little teaser; it motivated me to take a more in-depth writing class in the spring and it eventually helped me to get back into writing my journal. This is one of the things that makes me unbelievably happy.

I said one of the things... the other is photography. Somehow - even though I was still photographing a lot - I had lost my "flow" with photography. Sure, I still took a lot of pictures, mainly with my phone (I got a new phone this year with an excellent camera which is wonderful but also involves the risk of becoming lazy), but it wasn't the same passion. However, I have experienced these "waves" more than once during the more than four decades of photographing, so I wasn't too worried; but I did want to find my old passion again.

And I did. Since I spent so much time on my own this summer I could right dive back into my photography and I enjoyed it so much. I tried different takes of the same motif and it felt so darn good. I don't know WHY photography makes me so incredibly happy, I only know that it DOES.

The last weekend in July the Geek and I spent in Gualala, just two hours up north from where we live, at the coast. I had rented a cabin that was in the redwoods, but right across the water - we could hear the ocean on our little deck. We enjoyed sunsets over the ocean, walked on the cliffs, ate (too much) peanut butter cheesecake and just delighted in the beautiful scenery.

During my last week of break I wanted to have one more day at the ocean and went down to the Point Reyes National Seashore where I walked out on the spit and back along Limantour Beach. It was one of those typical Northern California summer days - sunny and warm, even hot, but the moment you come to the beach fog envelopes you and the temperature drops by 20 degrees. Ah, Northern California, how much I love it!

And then break was almost over - one last Sunday spent in San Francisco with our favorite girl. We spent several hours in the Exploratorium (I hadn't been there since they had moved to Pier 15 from their old location at the Palace of Arts), rode the historical streetcar of the F Line, ate fish and chips near Fisherman's Wharf and walked along Crissy Field Beach.

It was a beautiful summer.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

An Image and Its Story - July 2019

My garden is mostly a low water garden with many native and drought tolerant plants. I'm also not a particular friend of dahlias. Dahlias need water and can be quite finicky. Not seldom their leaves attract powdery mildew, and often their tubular roots need to be uprooted for the winter (fortunately not in our climate).

So why is the image of a dahlia my chosen photo for the month of July?

Because there are dahlias that are so beautiful that I just can't resist them. These are dahlias with dark red or even black leaves with simple blooms consisting of eight petals and a dark center. They are hybrids with names that all start with "mystic". They are true eye candy and if they are not set in the full sun their water needs are only moderate. Their flowers are spectacular and beautiful bright color spots in the garden.

What is not to love?

I certainly love these dahlias, that don't demand all the attention. They have been coming back faithfully after the winter and delighted me with their happy colors. While they are not part of the pollinator garden, they play their beautiful role in the shadier parts of the garden that need some brilliant color.