Author Archives: matthiasleue

About matthiasleue

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

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.

Seafood taco

Sustainable seafood taco I should say, as I look at the subject line above. The good intentions were there to get up early today, and I did briefly wake up at seven, before falling asleep again and then waking up at ten. I guess I needed sleep. Today is Coastal Cleanup Day, and as I don’t have any work right now, I figure I might as well make myself useful where I reside on our blue-green planet. Today is a day when Californians all over the state volunteer to pick up trash on the beaches. Last year over 68,000 people volunteered to pick up trash. Of course one should chide the litterbugs who made this mess to begin with, but thank God, that so many people treasure our beautiful state and it’s beaches and are willing to tidy up.

With an orange bucket containing a pair of gloves hanging on my handlebars, I start heading down the street. A truck pulls to the right of me to turn, and the driver rolls down his window, advising me that carrying the bucket in this manner is dangerous. Perhaps in traffic, but hardly on a deserted street I think. The bucket police strikes again. Smiling, I tell him that life can be dangerous. With dual buckets he may have had a point.

Arriving at the cleanup check-in site, I hand over my signed waiver form. This seems kind of silly to me, since this is volunteer work, but we do live in the age of litigation. The last claw for picking up trash goes to the person ahead of me – oh well, I guess my hands will work too – I chuckle. The check-in person who is also a teacher has been there since 8:30 and tells me she is ready for some lunch. I concur. I however need to earn mine first. To expand some more on the subject line above: I am handed a small business card with the California Coastal Commission logo on it, entitling the bearer of the card to a sustainable seafood taco – courtesy of a restaurant chain. There is a BBQ at noon I am told, before my bucket and I make our way down to the shoreline.

There are lots of kids and a few parents here already with buckets and trash bags. This part of the shore seems very clean, so I walk over some slippery rocks to another section of the shore. Bingo! Several aluminum cans, a horseshoe, many pieces of glass, some plastic. My bucket is delighted. I pass a mom who is taking inventory on a clipboard of the stuff that two of her boys are collecting. A third boy is playing in the sand, oblivious to the world around him. I joke with her that she has the easy job. Coming around the next bend, the rocks are very slippery and the reeds make it difficult to continue. As I bend down to pick up a bottle after this rather perilous endeavor, a woman on her cellphone on the balcony above me barks at me, that this is private property. “Want the bottle back?” Civic engagement seems to be a bit lacking here. I edge my way back to the original shoreline where I find a crab shell minus the interior. I pick up the crab skeleton and give it to the two boys I had met earlier who are just thrilled.

My bucket now half full, I return to the check-in station where my trash in the bucket is weighed. “Six pounds!” the teacher exclaims surprised. “That’s tops for the day”. I ask her if this means that I get to eat six pounds of hamburgers at the BBQ. Sure, sure, she says half-serious. A boy on a bicycle then directs me to a dumpster nearby where I empty my bucket. The dumpster is from the same company that picks up my apartment building’s  trash – their trucks being known by my cat as the “blue monsters”, and held in very low esteem on his behalf.

Lemonade, steak sandwiches with BBQ sauce, and a mango-strawberry popsicle are the reward for the participants. Yum. Naptime.

Pretty fishy

I was standing at the fish monger’s counter at the supermarket yesterday, waiting while the customer in front of me was getting their complicated order. There were some delicious seasonal specimen on display, including halibut, ahi tuna, and cod, all of them fresh and wild caught, but all a bit above my budget. The trout however looked really good too. Once the customer in front of me received their order, the fish monger turned to me and thanked me for my patience. I proceeded to order the trout filet which was on sale, and he told me “you know that’s by the piece not by the pound”. I affirmed this. He then added an extra filet at no charge (I’m guessing because I waited patiently) much to my delight, while telling me a story of going fishing recently near Mammoth Lakes, and catching his limit of trout, but having to run with his catch, after hearing somebody shout: “bear coming your way”. Another fish enthusiast it seems trying to obtain his daily limit.