Category Archives: Photography

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).

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!

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.


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!

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).

Pink, Leningrad, Finskiy Zaliv

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

Green, Duisberg, Germany

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

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

This water reflects the gray clouds:

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.

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.

Thursday Doors: Ku’damm

Ku’damm stands for Kurfürstendamm, one of the most famous avenues in Berlin. The miniseries Ku’damm 56 is set in a mid-20th century Berlin dance school. Ku’damm is also the home of the KaDeWe, the landmark department store originally owned by the Jewish entrepreneur Adolf Jandorf. The hotel where we stayed was also located there, called the Hollywood Hotel. Each room honored a different movie star. Ours was Merle Oberon.

A red carpet leads up to the door of the Hollywood Hotel

The hotel was in walking distance to the famous Kaiser-Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche.

The old church ~1900. Source: wikipedia, By nl:User:GerardMOwn work.

The church was badly damaged in 1943 during an Allied air raid, and the ruined building has stood ever since in the middle of the bustling city as a symbol and reminder of the war’s horrors.

In 1956, the architect Egon Eiermann integrated the ruin in his design for a new church. The new design consists of concrete honeycomb elements with stained glass inlays.

Door and honeycomb design of the rebuilt church, built 1959-61

The church was closed as we came back to our hotel in the evening. And these days a Fair Trade Shop sits across from its entrance doors.


Several doors on the old structure are in use.

But they are not as striking as the empty eye where the stained glass window once sat.


Or the arched spaces that have earned the nickname, der hohle Zahn or “the hollow tooth.”


Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog


Follow my trip with this and previous posts:

August 9, 2018: Berliner Dom

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

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.

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


Thursday Doors: Berliner Dom

Thursday Doors was on vacation too, but it’s back now, with a fascinating post about artist Maud Lewis, and the 1-room cottage that she lived in and turned into a studio. As promised, my Thursday Doors are going to be about my recent trip to Germany and the British Isles.

In Germany we started out in Berlin. I lived in West Berlin as a teenager in 1983, and I have already posted a couple of then vs now posts: 10316 days (about the Berlin Wall), and Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg.

A lot of stairs for not much door!

The Berliner Dom, or Berlin Cathedral, had not been on my radar screen as a particularly joyful, beautiful, or even dramatic place. Lacking the romance of Notre Dame, the pagentry of Westminster Abbey, or the artistic genius of the Sistine Chapel, the Berliner Dom was just another fancy old building, dingy and always under construction. This photo, taken through a tour bus window, sums it up. Rows of leafless trees and a crane under a blackened dome complete the somber picture.

I wrote “East Berlin Cathedral” on the back of this Kodak Instamatic photo in March, 1983

And I have to say, our recent visit didn’t completely dispel the aura of dark severity that surrounds this place for me. The sky was still cloudy and construction remains a fact of life in contemporary Berlin. But the Dom itself has become more open and welcoming.

Eingang (entrance)

The doors downstairs are quite diverse, some with glass:


Some with marble:


And the interior above the doors, which I never saw on my 1983 tour of East Berlin, is strikingly ornate and beautiful.


As a musician, I wanted a picture of the 1905 Sauer Organ, which organist and blogger Dr. Jens Korndörfer terms “one a few choice organs in the world whose encounter is a life changing experience.”

The 1905 Sauer Organ
The 1905 Sauer Organ

There are some rather boring wooden doors too, probably to offices:

And side-chapel doors, adorned with gold and light:

I thought it all got a bit more adventurous when we went upstairs to the dome itself. Here is where you could get lost looking for a way out.


Or where you might find a hunchback lurking around the corner.


Or some bees. Yes, this is really a thing! “Berlin is buzzing!” to call attention to the importance of pollinators.

Beehive on roof of Berliner Dom
Beehive on roof of Berliner Dom

There is also something very neat about being up near the roof statues that look so ethereal from below. It’s like being backstage before the show and seeing all the makeup being put on.

For example, this angel clearly needs a smaller viola. If she keeps playing like that she’s going to get tendonitis in her left arm, or worse!


I approached a security guard on the roof to take our picture. When I asked him in German, he lost his severe, dour look, and happily did us the favor.


Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog


Follow my trip with this and previous posts:

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

Mundane Monday: Windy

When I saw this week’s Mundane Monday prompt, “windy,” I immediately thought of these pictures. They are from a vacation our family took in Hawaii in 2014, and a geocache we found there.


This geocache, called Nu’uanu Avalanche, is a subtype called an Earth Cache. Earth caches highlights certain features of the earth and you have to answer questions in order to log them. Many Earth Caches are about geology, particularly rocks and rock formations. This one was about wind. You had to print out a wind gauge, bring it along to the cache, and estimate how strong the wind was going to be. Then you needed to take a picture of yourself holding the wind gauge to show how strong it really was.

Windiest spot on Oahu

Here are my daughter and I holding the wind gauge my husband printed out, which is basically useless in this much wind. The little string that is supposed to be displaced proportionally to wind strength has blown all the way over to one side. But you get the idea if you look at our hair. This is the windiest spot on Oahu!


This spot is also at the top of a cliff with a spectacular view. A landslide formed this cliff, and a historic battle was fought here, in which King Kamehameha defeated the forces of Maui and united the Hawaiian islands under his rule.





Mundane Monday: Faces (of clocks)

This week’s Mundane Monday Challenge from Dr K Ottaway has the theme, Faces.  I don’t feel completely comfortable putting up human faces here. My kids have taken a huge number of selfies showing their faces, but they’re old enough to curate their own online social media histories without me getting involved. And I’m just not feeling ready to post pictures of the faces of friends, strangers or acquaintances. I could post my own face, but ugh.

So I had another idea as I was looking through trip pictures: clock faces. I happened on this one from Guernsey.


It was in an upscale souvenir shop near the Little Chapel, a sweet tourist attraction on the island. These clocks were extremely inventive. This one played Spring from the Four Seasons, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Morning from Grieg’s Peer Gynt, the theme from Beethoven’s Symphony #6 Pastorale, and maybe Pachelbel’s Canon. (If not, there was definitely another one playing–and playing and playing–Pachelbel’s Canon). Especially cool was that the face of the clock came apart into the flower shape shown here, whirled around to the music, and finally went back together when the music stopped. We didn’t buy it but it was fun to watch.


This is another unusual clock face, this time from Bad Schussenried, Germany. The workings of an old tower clock (Turmuhr) from 1750 were made into artwork on the side of a building. This one is not going to tell time for you.


And this last “face” is on an Anniversary Clock, the name for the type of golden torsion pendulum clock under glass shown here. This one was given to my step mother-in-law by my late father-in-law when they were married. She was his second wife after he was widowed in 1989. He passed away in 2015, just before we moved to California.

Legend has it, when he died, the clock stopped. It later started again on its own. It still sits on her windowsill, facing the room, now with fresh batteries.

Mundane Monday: Beach and Cliffs

Dr KO has such nice themes for Mundane Monday. This week’s theme is the beach. I’m back from my trip to Europe, which was not really a beach vacation. But the parts of the trip I will remember the longest involved beaches of a sort.

The last day of our cruise took us to Dover, England, of the famous White Cliffs. When British pilots returned from bombing runs during World War II, it was the sight of these cliffs that let them know they were home, and (relatively) safe, for now.

Gegen England
PRESENTED TO THE TOWN OF DOVER BY THE BRITISH LEGION, CALAIS BRANCH Section of armored plating dismantled from one of the German long range guns at Sangatte, Calais. The 84 rounds recorded formed part of the 2226 shells fired from these batteries at the harbor and town of Dover during the period 1940 to 1944.

Our day was warm and sunny, the sky a clear blue with a few white clouds. We hiked along the Cliff Walk and looked out over the beach and the water.

We were high-up enough to see the curvature of the earth and the boats crawling along the watery arc of the globe.

And a lighthouse behind a field of flowers.


The different shades of blue and white were amazing all day. As we sailed away from Dover on the cruise ship, seagulls followed us, drafting off the ship’s movement.


This gull was dive-bombing some leftover food on plates stacked up in the bistro at the back of the boat.


And the cliffs themselves, and the shadows they made, took on a different hue as they receded into the distance.


There’s a song about bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover, but as we learned, bluebirds are not native to the area and cannot be found here. It’s white birds all the way. White birds against a deep blue sky.


Thursday Doors (on Friday): Berlin Walk

BerlinerBaerHi! I’m back (if anyone is still reading this blog!)

I didn’t intend for my break from blogging to be this long. I was on a trip to Europe, then I visited my parents, then I had a really busy teaching week. I can see how one gets out of the habit, especially with a full-time demanding job. And then all of the sudden you look up and a month has gone by.

I also have a bad case of photo fatigue. I showed my parents the pictures from the trip on TV and it took two 2-hr sessions to get through everything.

A couple of years ago I started participating in a weekly photo challenge called Thursday Doors, now run by Norm 2.0. Thursday doors goes back to 2014 in Montreal. and it now includes weekly links to posts from all over the world. I find that doors provide a unique view of a place: doors show not only the architecture but the street culture and the history, the way neighborhoods cohere and don’t, and what people find important at the moment.

Although Norm tends to show closed doors, I have been surprised at how often the doors I am trying to photograph are open, leading to posts that are more about Thursday doorways. And I have wrestled (but not too hard) with the question of whether a gate is a door (answer: for blogging purposes, yes!)

So, for this Friday’s version of Thursday doors, I’m continuing what I started in Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate.

Weather in Germany is different from weather in California. I’m biased, but I like California weather better. In the past when we have gone to Germany in June and July I have felt cheated out of a real summer. It’s just not summer when your normal clothing to go about the day comprises long pants and a jacket. IMO.

But that is Berlin for you. Like many European cities, most of the buildings in Berlin are made of stone. The trappings of modern commerce, especially around and in the doorways, manage to look both dignified and out of place at the same time.

This effect is especially apparent to me under a gray sky. Gray to match the buildings.

On this day it rained a little bit, too. It wasn’t even enough water to make real Germans think twice.


We were still a bit jet-lagged and tired from the 9-hr time difference, but we were getting out there because we were in Berlin and we were supposed to. So the experience felt a little surreal, wandering through alleyways (because that’s what these stone buildings make the streets feel like) in search of food and a geocache.

What is this man doing? Laundry? No, someone hid a geocache in a sock in the middle of a street in Berlin! It’s not a door, but I thought it was still worth showing. I’ve never seen a cache like it before. I’ll also point out that he is 6’4″ tall and still had to reach up pretty high to retrieve it. I probably couldn’t have gotten it on my own.

My husband finding an actual geocache hidden in a sock
My husband finding an actual geocache hidden in a sock

We had surprisingly good luck just finding places to eat, and this was a nice restaurant, a cozy place to eat and wait for the rain to stop.


Mundane Monday: Sand

Sometimes the Mundane Monday photo challenge is a challenge–I do it on Tuesday, or it’s not really mundane, or I use it as an excuse to write about geocaching, or I search my photo library for something that kinda fits and get creative–whatever. Since Jithin at photrablogger stopped doing it each week it has become a little more free form, which fits my style anyway. But, this week it all comes together with this picture:


Yep, that’s my sandal-clad foot next to some sand.

IMG_3783This is actually a geocache near Leuven, Belgium. My family stopped there on our way to Brussels. This is a subclass of geocache called an “earth cache,” which teaches you something about geology. In order to log an earth cache on the geocaching website, instead of finding a logbook in a container and signing it, you have to answer some questions about rock formations you find at the site.

The sand is incongruous. It doesn’t seem to belong here in the forest. This particular site is completely dry, but if you look closer there is evidence of a former sea bed in the area, with fossilized worm holes in the rocks.


When we were in Paris 2 years ago we found a number of earth caches there too. Many of the big cathedrals and city halls of Europe are built with stones containing fossils, fossils left when the old sea beds dried up.