Monthly Archives: February 2013

Girl Scout cookies

Thin mint cookies

Thin mint cookies

Another beautiful February Sunday. The magnolia blossoms on the old tree in front of my church are more than half open now. Blue sky and sunshine abound. After service, I go home to take a nap, as my cat Calvin woke me up twice last night. I wish he would comprehend that it is unnecessary to meow before using the litter box (which he seldom does, as he uses outside almost exclusively — for those who might be interested in such fascinating details). Silently taking care of business would be most appreciated. The second disturbance, in the form of bringing down his toy mouse (which smells like catnip by the way — in case you were wondering), is somewhat understandable, as it seems to be a present for me. The timing however is subject to debate.

I’m off to the Farmer’s Market and then the grocery store. My nap was a bit long it seems, as the Farmer’s Market is already starting to close down. I do find one vegetable stand that is in the process of packing up, but still open, and I purchase some leeks from the farmer, for making potato-leek soup later in the week — it is supposed to rain and get cold again — and that’s when it tastes especially good.

It must be spring, at the street corner where the market is set up, some Girl Scouts are already hawking their cookies. I can never say no to a smiling little girl with cookies, and one box of thin mint cookies later, I depart. Next stop: Peet’s coffee, for a café au lait. The sidewalk however is blocked by a Bernese mountain dog, who is standing diagonally — an immovable barrier. I suppose he wants to be petted, and he has succeeded very nicely in accomplishing his purpose. I am granted passage once I have finished my petting duty. At Peet’s, the girls behind the counter spy my cookies and make subtle hints as to how good thin mint cookies taste. An old fashioned barter of cookies for coffee takes place.

I walk down the street past the Farmer’s Market that is almost completely disassembled now, and then find a bench to sit on that is bathed in sunshine — a fine place to enjoy my café au lait. As I sip my coffee, I see a father walking on the opposite side of the street with his daughter holding his hand. She is carrying a stuffed leopard that is bigger than her (à la Calvin & Hobbes). My cat Calvin would be proud of her. A bit later, there is some avian commotion, as three crows fight over who gets to sit at the very top of a light pole. Never mind the fact, that there is plenty of room for everybody. Pitiful behavior. They finally all leave, after the needless ruckus  comes to an end. I would also venture to guess that the tone of the conversation left a lot to be desired.

Pushing my shopping cart past the sliding doors at the supermarket, I am greeted by one of the employees, who is giving out samples of fresh strawberry cake — it is an easy sale. This year I decided to give up ice cream for Lent, and those who know me, know what a “sacrifice” that is for me. As I contemplate the prior purchase of the cookies and now the cake, I think to myself, although both don’t fall into the ice cream category, perhaps I am consuming a bit too much sweets and defeating the purpose of Lent here. The checker sees my cake on the conveyor belt and asks: “Gonna eat that by yourself?” Nope, it will be shared.

Have a blessed week, and support your Girl Scouts

Matthias Leue

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Robins and presidents

Penny

After a late morning visit to my favorite French bakery, and one rustic baguette and raspberry-apple tart later, I opt for a stroll since the weather is so nice. Funny enough, I see a street called Pleasant, which aptly describes the day. I decide to walk down Pleasant Street, and it turns out that it is a u-shaped street, making it a quiet walk, as there are no cars around. One of the houses I see is overgrown by ivy and there is loud commotion coming from it. At this time of the year the ivy has berries, and it seems that this is a delicacy for the robins. I observe them, as they perform their landing and take-off maneuvers, devouring all berries in sight. My own attempts at berry picking could be described as clumsy and blunt by comparison. The robins seem oblivious to me. Bon appetit!

Exiting the u-shaped street, I hear church bells ringing. But it is not the usual ding-dong tone one normally hears, but an entire hymn, that resonates over the rooftops filling the air with musical joy.

I come to a crosswalk, and the driver of a light truck that stops, motions for me to proceed. As I walk in front of the truck, the driver grins at me and says “I was waiting for a clean shot”. The sunny day has brought out his sense of humor it seems. I grin back, reaching the other side, thankful that I have not become roadkill.

At home, I find among the bills in the mailbox, an advertisement from a purveyor of musical instruments. Gracing the cover of  the advertisement, President Abraham Lincoln can be seen in quadruplicate, playing bass, drums, guitar, and piano, wearing his customary stovepipe hat, and matching outfit. A virtuoso on many instruments it seems. Not only has Mr. Lincoln long been relegated to the smallest denomination in the form of the copper penny (although ranking higher on bills), but now poor old Abe has to hawk musical instruments as well. The frosting on the cake though is dished out during a commercial break in the evening news, where we see presidents Lincoln, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin together at a gas station tending to and conversing about the gas mileage benefits of a Honda. God bless America, and may the souls of our dear departed presidents rest in peace.

Have a berry blessed week,

Matthias Leue

Hearts and blossoms

Magnolia

Magnolia

I woke up last Thursday morning to the sound of raindrops, our first rain of the year. It was a really dry January for California. Thank God we had so much rain in December, that the Sierras are storing up in the form of snow. My cat Calvin was lying on “his” bed observing the rain, with no intention of getting up to go outside, which is normally his custom at this hour. After I opened the back door and the fresh moist air came streaming in, he changed his mind, and after stretching as only cats can do, decided to go out to investigate the goings on — perhaps there was a squirrel to be put in its place, or other business to attend to. On days like this I keep a paper towel next to my computer, for wiping his feet when he returns, as I get tired of wiping off his footprints from the top of my desk, something he seems oblivious to, despite the fact that he is the perpetrator, and that they are clearly visible. On a side note: I finally saw the extraordinary movie “Life of Pi”. A gem among the maze of junk out there. I will have to rent it, so Calvin can see his big brother, hopefully without emulating some of the poorer behavior.

It is February, the acacia trees are starting to bloom all around my loft, exuding their sweet spring smell.

Thursday afternoon — I take a stroll, stopping in at the French bakery for a rustic baguette. The bread slicer I have been told about still has not come in to do its slicing duty, so manual bread knife mode will be the home remedy to this situation. The cold air is definitely an unwanted guest from Alaska once again this year, but the sun is out, patches of blue sky can be seen through the puffy marshmallow clouds, A house I walk by still has an eucalyptus wreath on it — in February! The different species of magnolia trees are in various stages of bloom now, their leaves however still playing peek-a-boo. A red camellia I pass has shed itself of numerous blossoms, the petals bringing color and life to the drab concrete sidewalk.

I see some paper Valentines in a window — a little girl has been very busy. Hearts for the world to see.

Have a blessed week and a happy Valentines Day,

Matthias Leue

Smile

BulldogRunning errands the other day I came upon what you see prominently on the left in this photo here. God definitely has a sense of humor which is clearly exemplified in this four-footed creature. You can’t help but chuckle at that face. After observing one another for several moments, contemplating life, and the sunshiny day, Mr./Ms.? bulldog (I thought it rude to check on specifics) was petted by yours truly, as we parted ways.

The last two Christmas trees at the local drugstore are finally gone now. In their place are dozens of roses, their roots wrapped in plastic, their pruned back, thorny stalks comprising the other half of what is visible. One would venture to guess it must be rose planting season. I have a wild rose still blooming in front of my loft — pretty amazing for January. Roses always make me think of Portland, Oregon — the City of Roses, as  Portland calls itself, and for good reason. Portland has an ideal climate to grow roses. The rose garden in Portland is a pure joy to see and to smell in the summertime, when the roses are in full bloom. An abundance of color and fragrance to delight the senses.

Have a blessed week,

Matthias Leue

The Groundhog

Well, Wikipedia tells me the following about this critter: The groundhog (Marmota monax), also known as a woodchuck, whistle-pig, or in some areas as a land-beaver, is a rodent of the family Sciuridae.

Thank you for this detailed explanation I suppose, but since the miscreant is too lazy to reside on the West Coast (although his relatives the marmots do), he should probably not hog (pun is unintentional) a whole day for himself on the calendar. Nonetheless, I wish all the people residing in cold areas, that they will be privy to an early spring, assuming the official groundhog (Phil is his name I’m told) does his job properly tomorrow in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, once he drags his lazy groundhog butt out of bed.

Happy Groundhog Day!