November 26

Thank you God for the hazy warm sunshine this afternoon, the beautiful golden and crimson maple leaves, the little girl with the big eyes and green parrot t-shirt who was dancing a “Frozen” dance next to my table in the diner, oblivious to the world around her, except for a glance at my milkshake, and my fresh smelling sun-dried laundry.

Milk and Butter

I climb up the steps to the alley to walk to the supermarket. I really like walking through the alley. Its quiet, with almost never a car, only the occasional “blue monster” (the garbage truck) in the early morning usually — My cat Calvin’s arch-enemy. Trees line both sides, and often a sumptuous surprise, such as a lemon, may be found on the ground. Having walked a few blocks, I hear some rhythmic tapping coming from between some fence boards, My interest is piqued, and I look through a small opening between two fences to see a girl tapping on a bucket. She is so completely immersed in her activity, that she is oblivious to me. After watching and listening a bit, I start to clap my hands in the same rhythm. Stopping momentarily, she turns to look at me, surprised and with a smile. An orchestra in the making here. I wave to her, as I walk on.

In the next block, I admire a huge old tree with enormous leaves. I would guess the leaves to be as big as dinner plates, with half of them covering the ground already. It is like standing under a huge umbrella. Fall is in the air, you can sense the change in seasons.

I buy only a few items at the market, as this is not my regular grocery store. The price these days of milk has gotten astronomical, as have most dairy products, due to our ongoing drought here in California, so I switch from my usual half-gallon of milk to a gallon of milk. Drama in the dairy section. Oh — that’s a nice surprise — Tillamook butter is on sale — it is sweeter than the generic brands too — that’s one happy consumer here. A few tomatoes hop in the basket to complete the expedition, and that’s it for today. On the way back, I stop at the library. The librarian smiles at my bags of groceries, as I check out a DVD. Perhaps I should have checked out a cookbook. Efficiency indeed today.

Have a blessed Sunday and week

October 31

Three very nicely decorated pumpkins sit on top of a chair outside the apartment next to me — two very small ones, and a slightly larger one, sitting in between them. They are looking directly across at a pumpkin of medium stature that I carved — well to be precise — poked a few holes into. My pumpkin looks like a doofus — deliberate on my part. I wonder what they would say to each other, if they could talk — plenty, I’m sure. The rain from last night has eased up. I hope it stays that way, so the kids can have fun tonight, going trick-or-treating.

On another note: today is Reformation Day, almost overshadowed by the armada of orange pumpkins. An important date in history, nearly five centuries ago, attributed largely to Martin Luther. Interestingly enough, it has also been a national holiday in Chile (a continent away), since 2009. Martin Luther would be surprised I’m sure.

OK, time to fill the bowl with Hershey’s kisses — orange ones of course. My cat Calvin will be most curious as to all this hoopla and excitement.

Tug and Sniff

As I came back down a narrow pathway, grocery bags in hand, looking at a squirrel above me dashing across a telephone wire in what seemed to be quite a hurry, a girl approached me with her pint sized dog, who was tugging on the leash with abandon. I smiled at her and said: “I see your dog is taking you for a walk”, at which she got the giggles. I bent down and petted the dog, who now stopped pulling, as his nose caught a scent of my cat Calvin. Brief interest, then back to tugging on the leash — there are things to be explored and sniffed. “Bye”, “Bye”.

My hand was then sniffed of course when I entered my apartment with my groceries, with disdain and casual interest on Calvin’s part, as best I could tell. Occasionally when I have petted dogs, Calvin’s tail gets super bushy — something that always amuses me. Interestingly enough, it has nothing to do with the size of the dog — a mystery.

Have a blessed peaceful week.

Thyme

After church last Sunday, I purchased a small container plant in my old Oakland neighborhood. The weather was quite hot, over 90 F. The person outside the hardware store was busy watering the sparse remaining stock. The specimen in question is a little rosemary plant in a two-inch pot, which I repotted into a larger clay pot.  It now sits in front of the door, in cosy proximity to the tiny olive tree, that my son Christian gave me. “Creeping rosemary” — the label informs. Indeed it tells the truth — having watered it every day this past week, my little culinary friend has already breached the rim of the clay pot it resides in. In my old loft in Oakland, I planted a rosemary bush just about the same size as my present one in the ground, and it grew to over four feet in all directions — a haven for bees when it bloomed.

Staying on the subject: taking a short walk recently, I saw a small garden, where the gardener had staked several signs in the ground: the first one read — there is never enough thyme, and a second one stated: “weeds” — a gardener with a lovely sense of humor. I hope a bird drops a flower seed — or two, into the “weeds” planter box. Nearing the corner of the lot, I noticed a warning sign  that stated unequivocally: “Area patrolled by Schnauzer” — this however, I was not able to confirm visually — perhaps he, or she, was taking a nap.

Have a blessed peaceful week, in Jesus name, Amen.

Little pumpkins

PumpkinsAs I wrote last year, Erntedanktag is the German equivalent of the American Thanksgiving. While Thanksgiving here is a celebration for family and friends, and a time to invite people, Erntedanktag honors God for the harvest he has provided at the hands of farmers and home gardeners who till the earth.

I’m sometimes saddened when I see the incredible variety of fruits and vegetable that we have here in California in the supermarkets, where produce is often taken for granted — often thoughtlessly dumped into a basket. I have also seen vegetables or fruit dropped on the floor and not get picked up. I’m grateful my parents taught me to respect food. It is all the more fun to see when someone shops carefully, selecting seasonal delights to prepare into something sumptuous.

I have noticed some changes in the culture recently. At least in California and Oregon there seem to be more and more farm to table communities popping up, and chefs are opening restaurants relying on fresh, seasonal, and organic produce from local farmers and markets — sensible — and you sure can taste the difference.

That reminds me of a long time ago, when I grew some ornamental decorative pumpkins at my parent’s house in Germany, and then in the fall when they were ripe, tried to sell them at a local farmer’s market in Bad Hersfeld. I am not a good salesman, and at the time decorative pumpkins were unknown in Germany. At the market I would get questions ranging from “can you eat that?”, to “how come they are so small?” Restraint on my part, as to a reply was in order. I think I may have sold five or six of the pumpkins. It was a bit discouraging, and I learned to see the market from a farmer’s perspective, making me appreciate their profession even more. I guess I like the planting, and tending to part.

Have a blessed Sunday

Cloudy ponderings

I inadvertently had to think about the summer mishap, as I hung out my laundry this afternoon. The sky was overpopulated with clouds, some gray, some white, and some of a rather more than ominous dark gray. I felt like they were mocking me, as if to say: “go ahead we dare you, we have plenty of rain stored up”. Another quick glance at the Internet weather site: “Overcast, cloudy, 0% chance of humidity”. I hope the Internet is telling the truth.

Walking to the library under the cloudy skies was a nice change of pace from the bright skies the past few days. There is definitely a hint of fall in the air now. The ginkgo trees (written about so much by Goethe) are still a vivid green, but a few of the leaves show a just hint of the glorious golden-yellow yet to come.

Have a blessed week, in Jesus name. Amen.