Author Archives: matthiasleue

About matthiasleue

Matthias Leue is a fine art landscape photographer and travel story writer based in Benicia, California.

Erntedanktag 2017

My miniature potted agapanthus dropped its last cerulean blue blossoms just a few weeks ago. I cut the stalks, which are now hanging on my apartment door, bound together by a red rubber band procured from a bunch of broccoli after cooking it. A simple decoration, and a reminder of summer gone by.

The silk tree in the half wine barrel bloomed very late this summer, beautiful to behold, the delicate pink blossoms are a bit reminiscent of the flowers of a bottle brush tree.

When I water all my potted plants in the evening, bees migrate towards the drops of water, happy to drink I’m sure after a day’s work of gathering honey. We get along just fine. I hear meowing upstairs in a very distinctive tone as I water: I have learned to recognize this sound – if means that my cat Calvin is transporting his stuffed mice and/or hedgehogs around and distributing them in the apartment. I am amused. He just doesn’t seem to understand that I cannot see that from downstairs. He is praised later on though  for his thoughtfully distributed presents.

On a culinary note: having picked up some grapes from the farmer’s market, I discovered a recipe for fish with grapes, which tuned out quite well. Some of the wineries up in the wine country had their workers pick grapes at night during the hot spell we got here in California several weeks ago, a humanitarian gesture on the part of the growers. During the extreme heat some of those grapes turned to raisins on the vine, a fact not gone unnoticed by the birds I’m sure.

Have a blessed Sunday

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Pay attention!

A quiet and hot California Sunday.  I have to force myself to get up this morning and make the long drive, but I’m glad I do. After all – man does not live by bread alone. Before I enter church, I stop in at the pre-school building, whose front door is open. The pastor’s wife and one of her daughters are pasting jellyfish made out of paper plates and tissue paper up on the ceiling. Lobsters and crabs made from kids handprints and footprints decorate the walls. A maritime theme! We briefly chat about the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the jellyfish providing the cue. It’s been so long since I have been there I  think and sigh.

The doors of the church have been kept shut for the past few days, so the sanctuary is pleasantly cool inside. It is a sparsely attended service. No surprise, it’s vacation time. The sermon today is about the parable of the sower. I have always liked it, and it is always a good reminder for me.

Half a BBQ chicken, a loaf of bread, and some cheese acquired from the supermarket afterwards, I then drive home and walk up to the apartment, where a sharp rebuke is issued to me by a hummingbird hovering near the feeder, which hangs close to the door.

I believe the context of the distinctly one-sided conversation may be interpreted as follows: “So, Sunday is the day of rest, huh? What about my feeder? Ten percent full! See! I might add the nectar is a bit stale too, and I do notice all the goodies you bought for yourself. So, if you don’t mind, kindly clean, and then refill my feeder, thank you very much”.

Right away, Ms. or Mr. hummingbird, and please do accept my sincere apologies for the oversight!

Critter Talk

Its that time of year again: the annual vaccinations are due. A breakfast can of turkey just consumed, and now lounging on the bed and grooming his undercarriage, my cat Calvin suspects nothing. I will give him a few more minutes of this, as I finish my delicious cup of coffee and lightly toasted buttered bread with home-made jam, the sunshine streaming through the kitchen window.

“OK, time to go”, I tell Calvin, as I pick him up and carry him down the stairs on my arm, locking the door behind me. As I open the car door, I get a look of “this can’t be good” from my cat, but he sits silently on my lap, as we drive to the shopping center nearby, where the “mobile veterinarians” set up shop in the pet store on Saturdays.

I’m delighted to find parking in front of the pet store, and we walk in the door as I hold Calvin close to my chest and get in line with all the other pet-owners who are waiting to see the veterinarian with their four-footed friends. There is a couple in front of me with a bashful dog – a reindeer chihuahua I am told – and surprisingly completely quiet. Calvin pays him no heed, but his tail gets bushy as he sees two large dogs come up behind us. I ask the owners to please keep some distance, as I can tell Calvin is stressed. A couple of unruly dogs, so this precaution is well advised. One of the workers comes up to me with a mobile device and tells me I need a cat carrier for my cat. But I have already waited 15 minutes in line and last year I held him in my arm just like this, I protest to no avail. A bureaucrat. I ask the reindeer chihuahua owners to please hold my place in line, and walk to the cashier who I remember from yesterday, when we chatted about Calvin’s extensive “vocabulary”, when I bought a new bag of “crunchies”. She is kind enough to lend me a cardboard carrier that she takes down from a shelf. I thank her and we take our place in line once again. I sure didn’t want to come back next week and put my cat through this again. This time the bureaucrat is satisfied as she takes down Calvin’s information and the coupon for his shots. As is to be expected, the rates have gone up again. I’m also glad Calvin is spared having to look at the brutes around him (excluding the reindeer chihuahua). When our turn in line comes, the box is opened and Calvin gets three vaccinations, while sitting perfectly still as the veterinarian administers them. “You have such a good kitty”, I’m told. “Kitty” – an ignoble remark, I ponder. I’m proud of  my “tri-lingual” cat’s demeanor today. I return the cardboard box to the girl in the front and thank her, also purchasing a special pouch of “Cats in the Kitchen” and a new collar. Perhaps a cardboard box is a good idea for next year.

We arrive home, and Calvin gets the pouch of “Cats in the Kitchen” which is devoured instantly to erase the memory of this unsolicited extensive visit. I also set out a small bowl of heavy cream, and mix an egg in another bowl. You deserve this my little companion – you did just great today.

Have a blessed Sunday

 

Stealth Mode

The forecast yesterday was for partly cloudy skies with sunshine, and surprise, surprise, it did come true today. Not an easy feat to predict in the Bay Area, where conditions can change at a moment’s notice. I am however filled with mirth when I compare the TV weather presentations between Germany and the US. For the former, a large map of Germany is shown at the end of the regular newscast, with the high and low temperatures displayed on the map, as well as the various icons depicting clouds, sun, and rain (with ice in the winter) gracing said same. With rain – if I recall correctly – the icons are animated, perhaps encouraging the viewer to take inventory of their umbrellas in the house. The forecast itself lasts perhaps 15 seconds or so, giving one a somewhat accurate preview of the next day.

Now in sharp contrast, yesterday’s weather forecast here in the Bay Area depicted a – shall we say more than animated individual – who went to great lengths to entertain the viewer – the whole episode perhaps lasting five minutes or more: graphics, animation, satellite imagery – an avalanche of information that may or may not come true the next day. Nonetheless, thank God we are still not in charge of the weather, despite all the advancements in technology and it’s followers that pompously try to profess otherwise.

I was, I must admit, so sidetracked and distracted by all the bells and whistles of the weather “entertainment”, that I did not take notice of the silent approach that had taken place right next to my chair: as I casually glanced over to my left after the noisy debacle had subsided, I saw that my cat Calvin’s head was inside my tall glass of milk – a perfect fit – and he was casually helping himself to a small portion of moo juice. I chuckled as I let him drink, amused that he had managed to outsmart me.

Have a blessed rest of the week

February weather

A few days ago I was riding around town, taking advantage of a sunny day (a sparse occurrence after months of rain). I thought it was now or never, as rain is forecast for days ahead yet once again. The reward was bountiful: yellow acacia blossoms in full bloom, the bright “here I am” pink of the plum blossoms (which don’t last very long, so you have to pay attention), a few magnolias in their pink and white dresses, and the snow-white blossoms of trees whose species escapes my knowledge. How grateful I am to live in California.

Sure enough: foreboding, dark and ominous clouds the next day, and a wind just whipping through the trees and playing havoc with the water down at the pier: seagulls bobbing up and down on the waves the wind was stirring, seeming to cherish the motion; a flock of pigeons stirred up by a four-footed miscreant doing their aerial acrobatics in formation to move to a safe distance from the disturbance; sandpipers scurrying along on the island where normally the pelicans reside. Brisk chilly air that made you feel alive.

 Have a blessed and peaceful week.

Right focus

It has been a rough week emotionally, to say the least. Speaking briefly with the pastor’s wife after coming out from service, she told me that the only thing all the kids talked about this week in the after school program was the violence and hate they saw on TV, and didn’t understand. Bad being called good, wrong being called right, fighting, bad language.

I’m sometimes asked why I post comics on my social media page – “that’s for kids”, I’m told – well quite simply put: the world needs humor, laughter, uplifting stories – focusing on the good, and positive side of life. And besides, I love kids.

The proliferation of modern technology in our age makes us aware of any given situation in the world almost instantaneously, and we are bombarded with information all the time, much of it lies and exaggerations. I think this may be subconsciously sucking us into a negative downward spiral. On a side note: I saw an article which explained that a new scientific study now shows that people who spend too much time on their smart phones suffer from sleep disorders. This doesn’t surprise me at all.

Just spending a half hour down by the water this evening looking at the phenomenon of the bright yellow “super” moon, the soft ripples on the water, pink reflections of the sunset fading from the edges of the clouds, a fisherman casting out his line – almost a silhouette in the evening light, and a small dog of rather humble stature relieving himself on one the poles right next to me, brought life into perspective again.

I’m shutting down the news this week. Perhaps longer.

Have a blessed Sunday evening. In Jesus name, Amen.