Category Archives: California

Mundane Monday: Kitchen Close-ups

Good morning and Happy Monday! I don’t teach on Mondays so I tend to have a better relationship with the day than many people do. I had a concert last night, I got enough sleep, and like most Mondays, I usually have a little time to catch up on blogging.

And then the email appears. If I have teaching later in the week, I have to send my teacher prep email. I schedule it with Boomerang to show up in the teachers’ mailboxes on Monday morning, and I bcc my personal account to make sure it arrives. I also send a follow-up email to the classes I taught last Friday. And I schedule that for Monday Morning too because who wants work email on the weekend? Ugh!

Along with those emails, I got my weekly Mundane Monday email from Dr Katherine. For today’s challenge, she posted a photo of a blue butter dish from her kitchen. I wouldn’t have recognized it as a butter dish without the label. What I do recognize is the beauty of glass. As a child I used to collect beach glass in different colors. And one of my favorite wedding photos has my husband’s and my faces framed by a glass.

WeddingGlass

I think my favorite part of the kitchen is also something mineral, as opposed to animal or vegetable. Like glass, there is also a quality about stone, (or even fake stone) that makes me think of timeless and universal beauty. The food that is prepared in the kitchen is ephemeral, but there are other parts of the kitchen that are more permanent. I think that “stone hearth” and “brick oven” and “granite counter tops” are part of our kitchen vocabulary for a reason.

Back in Belmont MA we had a nice kitchen that we had had remodeled from its former 1980s decor. In particular I liked the geometric backsplash pattern we chose, which just came from Home Depot, but it had a historical Italian feel to it. I sometimes used it as a backdrop to photograph other things. Like this jar of Swedish Fish I won for guessing there were exactly 250 of them:

SwedishFish

And on the candy theme, since it’s almost Halloween, several years ago my son got a Rock Candy-making kit for Christmas. The candy grew nicely there on the kitchen counter:

And in one of my more successful home improvement projects, I replaced and installed a kitchen faucet myself.

Faucet

My kitchen in California is much darker and I don’t like it as well for that reason. But that backsplash too makes for some good pictures, if nothing else.

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This is our current faucet (that I did not install). And, in CA we have persimmons from a tree in the backyard!

Our new kitchen faucet, with persimmons on the counter behind

This time of year there are always some on the counter, ripening, getting ready for me to make persimmon cookies.

Fuyu persimmons on the counter

The Mundane Monday photo challenge seeks to find beauty in the mundane. It was started by TraBlogger and is continued by Dr. Katherine Ottaway. Stop by and say hello, and submit a photo!

 

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Mundane Tuesday: Coral

These posts are getting less and less mundane, but I like the chance to find the theme in my photos and showcase that. Dr. Katherine showed a picture of some beautiful coral mushrooms from the Olympic national forest.

My coral is from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. My daughter had a friend visiting last summer and we took her there for sightseeing.

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We found both Nemo and Dory.

MontereyCoralDory

The last image is not coral per se, but is from an art exhibit about plastic that was at the aquarium at the time.

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“Message in a Bottle” by Alison McDonald

Artist Alison McDonald reuses and reforms everyday materials in her sculptures. She writes, “this transformation from refuse to artwork will I hope echo the transformation in our attitude towards recyclable products and encourage more responsible use of our resources.”  

Our coral reefs need this transformation in attitude, and are counting on us to bring it about.

Little Women Legacy: All Smiles from Silicon Valley with KL Allendoerfer, Featured Author

This week I am featured on Pink Umbrella Books’ blog! This appearance is part of a blog tour featuring contributing authors to “Alcott’s Imaginary Heroes,” an anthology for the 150th Anniversary of Little Women.

In this blog post series, we’ll feature contributing authors from our new anthology, Alcott’s Imaginary Heroes: The Little Women Legacy. Today we’ll catch up with KL Allendoerfer, California-based writer, science educator, and musician.

Allendoerfer

Contributor KL Allendoerfer reads Little Women with “Pie,” the ubiquitous green droid in front of Silicon Valley’s Googleplex.


What is your favorite scene from Little Women?

It would be easy to say my favorite scene is the one I wrote about in my essay, in which Beth thanks Mr. Lawrence for the use of his piano and they become friends. I do love that scene, but there are so many others as well. I think the one that most got under my skin, and that I remembered many years later, was Jo’s disaster of a dinner party when Marmee decides to let the girls run things themselves. It shows Louisa has a wonderful sense of…

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Mundane Monday: Line up (in SoCal)

Things don’t really line up in Nature. Usually. They did this week in Dr KO’s Mundane Monday Challenge #175: Line Up, an adorable line of geese.

My photos are all from a trip we made to the Santa Barbara area in 2016 for Thanksgiving. At the time we visited a few schools in Southern CA for our daughter (now a sophomore at Willamette University in Salem OR).

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Line of trees silhouetted against the mountain

I have to say, I really don’t know why she didn’t want to go to school down here. I mean look at it!

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Line of Palms at Mandalay Beach, Oxnard

But she preferred Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. She’s happy at Willamette and it’s a good school, so I’m not going to second guess her.

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Signal

While we were there we also found an unusual geocache. Up in the hills of Santa Barbara, in the Riviera Neighborhood, there is something called the Frog Shrine. Back in 1989 a plastic frog was left on a wall and people have been adding frogs to it ever since. The mascot of geocaching is named Signal the Frog, so naturally this was a good place to hide a geocache. It took a lot of frogs to find the prince . . . er . . . geocache, but I finally did. At least I didn’t have to kiss them!

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Line of Frogs at the Frog Shrine in Santa Barbara

Mundane Tuesday: Water Color

Dr. Katherine at Mundane Monday chose a gorgeous theme this week: water colors. She was out on a lake without internet for 9 days when she took hers. I took this from the deck of a cruise ship on the Baltic Sea. The location information says “Leningrad, Finskiy Zaliv” (Gulf of Finland, near St. Petersburg).

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Pink, Leningrad, Finskiy Zaliv

All the colors one can see in water have some component of reflection, some more than others.

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Green, Duisberg, Germany

Or, it’s a “reflection” of the changing depth of the water:

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Blue-Green-Brown Gradient, Unterfoehrung, Bavaria, Germany

This water reflects the gray clouds:

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White and Gray: Staffelsee, Bavaria, Germany

Or, sometimes your mind plays tricks on your eyes. I was sure this water was deep pure blue on the clear, cool winter morning in Pacifica when I took the picture before I went to teach in the school around the corner. But when I went back and found the picture for posting to the blog, I realized that it had been the sky I remembered most. The water was white and a bit wild.

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White and sky-blue, Pacifica, California

And these last two make an interesting pair. Lakes reflect the shadows of trees, and the sky makes all the difference.

Workers Wages for #WATWB

IMG_3344Silicon Valley was once called The Valley of Heart’s Delight, because of all the agriculture and fruit trees that used to grow here. The housing development where I live was a pumpkin patch until the 1980s, and I still have a persimmon tree in my backyard. Nowadays when people think of this area, they mostly think of computers and cutting-edge technology: Google, Facebook, Apple, Genentech, 23andMe, and many others. The history of both industries has a dark side: the conditions of the workers that make all this bounty possible.

According to Silicon Valley Rising, an advocacy coalition of labor, faith leaders, community-based organizations and workers, high-tech companies contract out most of their service jobs to workers who are poorly paid and don’t receive basic benefits. Latinx and Black people make up the majority of these janitors, food service workers, maintenance workers, security guards, and shuttle bus drivers who help build and sustain the tech economy. Many of these families have lived here for generations, long before the arrival of the tech riches that have priced them out.

This article, “Silicon Valley Security Guards Approve Contract to Raise Wages,” by Wendy Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle, highlights some recent results of Silicon Valley Rising’s efforts to change this narrative.

Security officer Elizabeth Valdivia’s job is to protect the employees and property of offices in the Bay Area, including from encroaching homeless people.

The irony is that Valdivia is homeless herself, living in her Mercury Tracer because she couldn’t afford a place to live.

Now, after more than five years of negotiations and activism, thousands of security officers at Silicon Valley tech companies will get pay increases, higher healthcare contributions and paid holidays after ratifying this, their first ever union contract, through Service Employees International Union/United Service Workers West. This was one of the largest private sector organizing efforts in California history.

I chose this article for #WATWB because it represents a vision worth fighting for, both in Silicon Valley and world-wide: an economic model that rebuilds the middle class and doesn’t leave hard-working people behind.

~~~About #WATWB~~~

The We Are the World Blogfest (#WATWB) seeks to spread positive news on social media. Co-hosts for this month are: Simon FalkAndrea MichaelsShilpa GargSylvia Stein, and Belinda Witzenhausen  Please stop by and say hello!

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month.

3. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. The more the merrier!

4. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

5. To signup, click here to add your link.

We are the World Logo

Play Music on the Porch Day

I’ve always liked “Days.” Like International Violin Day, which may or may not be June 17th, Igor Stravinsky’s birthday. Or International Walk to School Day, which is coming up on the first Wednesday in October.  Sometimes I find out about them after the fact, which is what’s happening right now if this is the first you’ve heard of Play Music on the Porch Day, Saturday, August 25th.

dsc02346Over the years I have eased in to playing outdoors, for example at the Farmers’ Market back in Belmont Massachusetts.

And this spring, I took the picture for the head shot for my Telemann solo with the SBP, out on my back deck. The green of the bushes in the yard blended in nicely with the green of the Yosemite hillside that I chose to illustrate the New World Symphony.

SBPSpringConcertPoster

Still, I’ve never heard live music in my neighborhood. It’s pretty quiet, except for the cars we can hear rushing by on the main street since we’re on the corner lot. When I took the picture for the poster I just posed with my instrument, I didn’t actually play it!

As I’ve mentioned I’m in a handful of Facebook music groups that keep me accountable for practicing. This is where I found out about the Porch Day. Other members of the group were posting videos of themselves on their porches. There was also a waltz challenge, “Play Me a Waltz,” and some players combined the two.

I decided to do that myself. I had been playing chamber music (Arvo Part and Borodin with friends–not on the porch) and when I got home, I found some waltz music I had lying around from fiddling in Seattle with friends from the Facebook group last year. I took it out on the porch and made my husband record me. These are the first takes.

This one is my favorite. I’ve been to the Yukon, and I can understand why one might feel lonesome for it.

We have not done a lot with our house and yard since moving to the Bay Area. But being out there I imagine soirees and house concerts and people laughing and talking.

“What if for one day everything stopped…and we all just listened to the music?”

 

California’s Emerging Writers

Z Publishing House began as a blog in late 2015 (so my blog is actually older than it is! Jeepers!) I really like their philosophy and approach, which is to produce anthology samplers of different writers, to help compatible readers and writers find each other.

Back when I first started blogging–which is apparently now the dark ages in publishing terms–I wrote a post in which I explored my feelings about admitting that some people are just not ever going to get me, that I am not writing this book/blog post/story/poem/other creative work/ for them. The flip side of that uncomfortable “no” is the “yes” of finding your target audience and connecting with them. I think that process is what Z Publishing is trying to facilitate.

So without further ado, here is my latest publication, in California’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Non-Fiction.

CAEmergingWritersNonFiction

It is available directly from Z Publishing House, or from Amazon.

“We like to refer to publications in this series as “sampler platters” of writers and genres, such that readers can quickly and efficiently discover talented authors that they may otherwise have never heard of as well as compelling genres, topics, and themes they may never have given a shot before.”

I have a short essay in this collection. It was inspired by this blog post: Already? Why I don’t like Daylight Saving Time Anymore. This topic is a surprisingly big issue in California this year, with a proposition on the November ballot to institute year-round Daylight Saving Time. I’m against the measure, for the reasons described in my essay and blog. This article by George Skelton in the LA Times also makes a good case for continuing to switch the clocks.

I would personally prefer year-round Standard Time, but I think clock switching is one of those compromises that makes everybody grumble a bit while in the end taking most people’s diverse needs into account. While I don’t agree with the folks who love Daylight Savings Time, I hear and understand their concerns. I don’t think that year-round Standard Time would be fair to them. In fact, my original blog post was subtitled “why I hate Daylight Savings Time.” After a conversation with someone on the other side I re-read the title, with the word “hate,” and decided to change it, for both the blog and the essay. “Hate” is a loaded word, especially these days, and it doesn’t have a place in this argument. I hope that they on the pro-DST side would be willing to give me and my needs the same consideration.

This is now my second published essay that was originally inspired by a blog post, the first being my contribution to Alcott’s Imaginary Heroes. Some of the reasons I started blogging were to write shorter pieces, to practice writing, and to practice finishing a piece of writing. That seems to be working out!

Mundane Monday: Skies

Dr. K Ottaway, host of the Mundane Monday challenge, asks us to post this week about skies. But not blue skies, “skies that worry me” (although if you would like to see a really blue sky, check out this post over the White Cliffs of Dover). She posted a fire sky, which inspired me to post one too.

Sunset over Los Angeles made more colorful by haze from California wildfires
Sunset over Los Angeles made more colorful by haze from California wildfires

This picture was taken last year, 2017, from Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. As with Dr. KO’s picture, the smoke from the fires makes the sunset eerily beautiful.

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Blood moon eclipse

The sky has often been a source of worry. In the past, people looked to the heavens for signs. Eclipses, especially, were thought to portend major events.

We’ve had a few of these in the past year. I hope that instead of the primal response that such events have historically evoked, we humans can use them as signals to come together instead.

 How to Help Victims of The California Wildfires, Refinery 29, by Alejandra Salazar, August 11, 2018

 

Mundane Monday: Rectangles

On Saturday I had been feeling a bit under the weather, but I was on the mend. I had an evening concert to play in and decided I was well enough to go. On my way to the concert I went to find my geocache of the day, which was at this gazebo in a park nearby the high school auditorium, which was also the concert venue.

The sun was going down making all sorts of rectangular shadows through the railing. The cache was an easy find, tucked behind the gazebo just by one of the supports.

I found out after I arrived at the concert venue that the power had been out in the entire town for about 3 hours prior to the concert, and just came back on. The sunshine made me feel better and the concert went well.

Gazebo

For the Mundane Monday Challenge #163 from Dr K Ottaway. What is your take on rectangles, what perspective lifts them out of the mundane and makes a magical photograph?

My answer: Sunlight and shadow!