architecture, art, cityscape, culture, landscape, leisure, night, people, photo-of-the-day, star, street, urbex, work, world

Throwback Thursday: 2020 – what a year!

December 31st, the last day of the year! Time for a look back. I guess all of you are happy, this wired year finally came to an end. All of us are tired of the regulations, limitations, and lockdowns we were faced this past year and had to follow even if we didn’t want to.

Right before Christmas, I got my 2020 yearbook. During the lockdown in March-May, I feared, my 2020 yearbook would be quite thin, there was no possibility to go out and take photographs. But, I was wrong. I even had to work very hard, to reduce the number of images to fit in a book. So, I want to name the major topics now:

March      - forest animals
April      - blue forest
May        - birding + stars
June       - Iceland
July       - comet Neowise
August     - birding (bee-eater)
September  - heathland
October    - fall

In the end, I created 4 books this year Iceland, Iceland monochrome, Iceland wildlife, and my yearbook. So, 2020 was a very productive year and without the limitations, it wouldn’t have been possible to have all my 2020 images developed up to now.

But, there were also a couple of downsides this year. Our vacation at the sea in April was canceled because of the lockdown. Our family vacation in May was also canceled because of the lockdown. The extended weekend trip end of September for visiting my brother in Switzerland was also canceled. But this time for bad weather (first heavy snowfalls and closed streets).  Our plan was to make a trip to a wine-growing area in October. But, because of the increasing number of infections. We didn’t book a hotel in advance to be able to react short-term to the weather conditions. So, we stayed home instead. Around the first of Advent, my wife wanted to visit a couple of Christmas markets. You guess it: canceled – no Christmas markets were planned or set-up. Visits for Christmas with my parents or our moved-out children??? Very distributed and no gathering.

When looking at my job, it came out, I’m not affected by the lockdown and the limitations to go out for work. I can do my work perfectly from home. All I need, is my company notebook, a headset to telephone, and a connection to the internet. Lucky me! My wife is working at a pension home to keep the inhabitants mentally active. So, she’s working in a secure place.

All in all, it’s good to know, the first vaccines are already approved, and also the pop-up vaccination centers are ready. So, the most endangered people are getting their vaccines now (if they want) and all others will follow during the next months following a priority plan.

 

In my personal life, there were also a couple of changes. I started a completely new job. I changed from being a project manager for IT projects to vendor management. Instead of reporting to clients, I now get the reports from our vendors. A very interesting change of view.

My daughter also started working again in February. Back in 2016, she started getting educated in nursing but had to quit because of her baby. Despite being a single mum, she’s working shifts (early and late, but no nights) as a nurse in a pension home. She got employed in March after 4 weeks of working voluntarily in that pension home. For 2021 she’s planning to start again to get educated in nursing so that she will be able to earn a bit more money. She also moved to a new apartment in June (after living again with us for about 9 months, because of some problems with her apartment and since February because of her work). Now, she lives only 300m away from us, so that we can take care of her son when he’s not in kindergarten.

Our older son was able to convert his fixed-term contract into an unlimited one and our youngest wasn’t limited too much by the lockdowns to learn for his job. By the end of 2021, he has to pass the written exam and in January 2022 he has to pass the oral examination.

My wife is currently recuperating from the lung inflammation she got surprisingly early December.

So, 2020 was a bad year in many perspectives, but it wasn’t a complete disaster. There is always some light in the dark.

This is the sun at noon on Dec. 24th. That’s a very typical winter sky here in my region. You can see, how low the sun is in the sky. It’s taken from your bathroom window on the second floor. From the street, I would be unable to see the sun at all. The trees are not that large and are about 100m away from our house. But the sun is standing so low during winter.

The image above is also a good illustration of my year 2020: there was a lot of struggling and complicated situations. We were pained by strict regulations to fight against SARS2-CoV. But, there was still some light. Think about your past 12 months. I guess you are also able to find some enlightening memories. Keep them well and let them carry you through the remaining time of the pandemic.

See you next year! Happy New Year!

art, culture, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 128: “And Here Comes the Holiday Season…”

Yep! Holiday season. A strange holiday season at the end of a strange year. I know, this year is strange for all of us, all over the world. Many families in many countries looking back in anger because of a personal loss. Lots of fear for many people: will I get infected? Will a family member get infected? And when having symptoms, the fear changes to “I hope, it’s something else”. And after a confirmed infection, this changes again. Now the question is “will I survives and will I recuperate completely”. I guess I can understand these feelings as I got tested in June in Iceland and waiting for the result was not enjoyable. Earlier this week my wife got tested because of an infection. She (we) had to wait about 30 hours for getting the result. It turned out, the test was negative, but instead, she was diagnosed with a lung infection – also not good, but better as COVID19.

In a ‘normal’ year, December is the worst month of the year. Besides the necessary Christmas-related happenings, I have 13 birthdays during December in my closer family circle plus the close friends. 8 of them are still upcoming, including mine. So, it’s a lot of stress to get all the necessary visits and festivities coordinated. The other thing is, in general, I don’t like the early start of Christmas decorations and products in the supermarkets (really, is it necessary to start end of September selling this stuff????) and playing the same 5 or 6 Christmas songs for months in the shops (yes, Band-Aid, Wham and Mariah Carey are among them 😫). Similar situation, when turning the radio on. Call me Mr. Grinch, but I can’t stand this anymore. Ok, ok, I’m not that extreme as Mr. Grinch. I don’t hate Christmas at all and I don’t try to ruin it for others. But, I don’t like how we are showered with music, decorations, smells, and so on for such a long time each year and always the same kind of stuff. This has nothing in common with the idea of Christmas.

OK, this year is different. No driving to work and working from home instead saves me from hearing these songs over-and-over again in the car (I’d need to commute 2 hours per day). I also try to avoid entering a shop as I’m one of those with a high risk for a dramatic course. Christmas shopping is done either online or I delegated it. Even all the birthday parties are skipped and there no necessity to attend an Advent or Christmas celebration in the office, society, or church. Staying home a lot. I even participated in my first ever virtual Christmas party organized by a lady from my department. It was nice and entertaining. Among other things, she had a Christmas-related quiz organized: 20 questions around Christmas. I had 10 correct answers (it would have been 12 if I would have followed my first idea and not corrected) and in the end, I  ranked #13 out of 96. I guess that’s quite good despite the questions were sometimes very American and British. You could ask me, are there no happy feelings bound to Christmas? Sure, there are some 🙂

Here, we have a saying: Die Dosis macht das Gift (the dose makes the poison). Another one is “putting sugar in the honey”.

So, the grouching hour is over, Christmas season is around the corner. Here are a couple of Christmas related images from the past years. Btw. I want to tell you the greatest and most valuable Christmas present ever that I got: my daughter, my first child, was born the night before Christmas (Dec 23rd at about 22:00h). She really has Christmas spices in her blood! During December she’s always wearing a Santa Clause-like jelly bag cap either in red or in dark-blue with tons of little stars. But, both are having a white edge and pompon. Even her son has such a hat (he only has a red one). So, it’s quite funny to see them walking along the street like two of the dwarfs searching for Snowwhite.

In the past, I wrote a small series of posts on how Christmas and Advent look like here in Germany. Maybe your interested and check them out. They are all tagged with “Advent” and have “Cultural notes” in the subject.

 

a woodcarving crib

 

some Christmas cookies

 

Advent wreath

 

a home-made Advent calendar in our kitchen

 

a felt crib

 

a classical Christmas tree with the gifts for the kids under the tree

 

a detail of the Christmas tree (no wax candles anymore for security reasons)

 

a booth at the Christmas market

 

another booth at the Christmas market

 

So, thank you Ann-Christine for this wonderful theme, and forgive me for my grouching 😊

I wish you and your beloved a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in 2021!!

Take care!

architecture, art, cityscape, culture, landscape, leisure, night, people, photo-of-the-day, star, street, urbex, work, world

Throwback Thursday: industry on magic mushrooms?

8 years ago! What a day. Perfect weather. Even stars above the scene!

Our monthly photographer’s roundtable led us to this closed former steel plant in the north-western Ruhr area. Instead of tearing it down, the area was converted into a park and many parts are accessible for the people. This was neither my first, nor my last visit. Unfortunately, it’s nearly a 100km drive.

Take care!

art, culture, photo-of-the-day, photography

Lens-Artists Photo Challange 127: Precious Moments

This week’s challenge is easy for me. Amy is asking for “precious moments”. Everyone has so valuable memories. Memories as precious as gold, silver, or diamonds like i.e. your wedding, the birth of your first child, getting a certain job, getting a promotion, you name it.

But, I’m telling you a different story now. You know, in 2014 I was in Iceland for the first time. And that country captured me. Right after my return, I started collecting hints and started planning my next visit. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find someone willing to accomplish me. Either the plan was too exhausting or the costs too high. You know, Iceland is quite an expensive country. By the end of last year, out of the blue, a mail arrived in my mailbox: a friend was looking for company for his own trip. As he regularly organizes such trips to different countries he knows a lot of people. His initial plan and my plans were mostly congruent and he was willing to add my additional destination to the plan. When the Covid19 pandemic started in China, I didn’t assume it would reach Europe. But, it did! When it came over to Europe End of February, there was still hope to be already over. We were about to start on June 13th. But, the pandemic lasted longer and longer. At some point in May, Iceland was virus-free again. But not the plane and no ferry was operating. Even the airlines didn’t cancel the flights. We were kind of locked. Finally, we the cancellation and were able to book seats on the first flight from Frankfurt to Reykjavik. What a precious moment, when I left the airport after the COVID19 test. Everything went well from that point on.

The other touching moment was near the end of our trip. During my first trip, I was guided to a beautiful waterfall located on private ground, as usual. No path was leading to the waterfall, no parking ground available and I even didn’t get a name. Unfortunately, the sky was dull and I didn’t get a nice image. Fortunately, I was able to find the waterfall during the last years in the maps. Since 2014 I’m following Icelanding news (in English) and had to read, the landowners had closed every possible way to reach the waterfall because of the misbehavior of many tourists: leaving their waste, trample down the sensitive plants, and even shit (yes!) behind the bushes! So, I assumed, I’d never see it again. But, while preparing the tour for this year, I noticed, the landowner created a small parking ground and prepared a path river-up to the waterfall. A one hour hike over quite challenging ground leads up to the waterfall. Unfortunately, we were unable to find the parking ground. Instead, we parked our car near a path leading river-down to the waterfall and started our hike. After 20 minutes or so, we reached the river, about 20 meters broad. We saw the river flew too strong to cross it. The ford seemed to be passable for horses, but for humans. There was too much water running down. We walked a bit up and down the river to see if there’s another option. but, there was no other option for us. At least we didn’t see one. So, we started walking back. Halfway back, a group of Icelanders came to meet us. Surprisingly, they asked us, how far it’d be to the river. We got to know, they were also on a hike to that waterfall and invited us to join. They said, one of them would know, how to cross the river even as a human. So, we joined the group. But, when arriving at the river again, they saw, the river had too much water to allow us, to cross it. But, they had a plan B. A short distance down the river was a bridge. So we were able to cross the river save and finally reach the waterfall.

Standing in the same place again as 6 years ago, I was touched to tears.

In my opinion, this is the most beautiful waterfall of Iceland: mostly because of the color of the water: turquois!

So, finally I can say, the more complicate it is to reach a certain goal or the more efford you have to invest to reach it, the more preciuos the goal becames!

Take care!

architecture, art, cityscape, culture, landscape, leisure, night, people, photo-of-the-day, star, street, urbex, work, world

Throwback Thursday: November blues in December?

I took this image a couple of years ago, but it could be taken today.

This image is illustrating, how I currently feel: bored, annoyed but at the same time lacking drive. I have so much to do, but I’m not motivated to do anything. So, I’m waiting for the time passing by when I’m back from work.

Only three weeks until winter solstice. Today, sunrise was at 8:24h and sunset is at 16:22. On Dec. 21st the sun will rise at 8:33h and set at 16:22h. But, when having so deep hanging clouds and fog, the days don’t get bright. People living further north even have way shorter days at the moment.

The weekend before last, the temperature was below 0°C even during the days with crisp blue skies. But, on the next Monday, the temperatures rose again and brought this uncomfortable weather: slightly above the freezing point, drizzling rain (with the ability to create black ice on the frozen surfaces of the streets), and the bad sight. A thick, warm jacket or better coat is important. Not because of the low temperatures, but because everything feels colder because of the moisture in the air. An umbrella does not help much. The drops are so fine, they find their way under the umbrella and make your clothes wet.

Unusually we have this kind of weather during November (but with much more rain). This year, November was way too dry. Forests are dying because of the lack of water. Lakes, and especially the artificial lakes for ensuring we have enough drinking water, are dramatically empty. Three hot years in a row without enough rain to refill all the reservoirs have consequences. Nature is fighting back!

We need more large forests to make sure, the rain will come back. But, without water, no forest can grow. Even, if it could, it would last decades.

This is flu weather. Keep yourself warm and take care of not getting infected by any of the bad viruses roaming outside at the moment. You know, there are a few viruses around much worse than flu.