A Wall Mural of My Neighborhood

Most of you know that I am a City Girl. Having moved back to Oakland, in Northern California, three years ago, I am in seventh heaven. I love the weather, the diversity, the opportunities to attend events…….. I could go on and on.

But one thing that is guaranteed in cities, at least here in the states, is graffiti. It doesn’t bother me particularly. It’s part and parcel of urban living. But it’s not exactly beautiful. And large expanses of empty walls are basically an open invitation to “tagging,” which is the process of spray painting the graffiti.

Oakland, along with some other cities, have found what seems to be an ideal solution. Businesses hire local mural artists to display their art on the large walls. It’s a win-win situation: the artists are local, and often, but not always, people of color. The artists earn money, something always in short supply for working artists, and because they are local, the gangs, in general, don’t tag over the murals. And the works are signed by the artists and copyrighted.

I drove over to the Grand/Lakeshore Avenues area of my neighborhood yesterday afternoon (Friday) to beat the weekend rush for dog food and groceries. As I was walking out of the parking lot, I noticed that there was a brand new mural covering the faded old one. Brand new as in, “Oh my goodness, is the paint still wet???” And as I walked along it, I marveled at how well the artist had captured the Lake Merritt neighborhood. He had painted the finger of the lake that is south of me, and which is actually the larger of the two fingers and has the iconic promenade. But more than just painting the lake and the promenade structure, he had painted the birds, the various water fowl that are here in the lake. As I walked, (and I was walking from the end of it to the beginning, toward the street) I was softly exclaiming, “Oh, there’s a seagull and a cormorant. And there are the Canada geese.” And then I saw a pelican and noticed that the pelican had a sign tied on his neck with a red ribbon. The sign said, “HONK.”* It was then that I realized that the artist had painted all the species of water fowl that we have year round at the lake. So I was not surprised to then come upon the mallard ducks, and then finally the egrets. It was obvious to me that the artist was truly local, and knew the lake well. I felt that the mural had been painted with such love of the neighborhood that I caught my breath. After I got home, I looked at the photos and noticed that the mural was truly new. It was dated 8/2019.

I will present the photos in the order they are supposed to be viewed as you walk from the street into the parking lot and the stores.

Egrets and the Necklace of Lights

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The ducks and a pelican. Notice the reflections in the lake and the ripples in the water around one of the ducks.

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A closeup of the pelican. Notice his neck sign.*

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The Canada geese. See yesterday’s post Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Animals for photos of the geese.

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And at the end of the procession, a cormorant and a seagull. Notice the OWRC** inscribed on the prow of the boat.

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And finally, the artist’s signature and © on the log. Notice the raccoon sitting on top of the log. You have to work to notice his mask and look even harder to see the rings on his tail extending along the log. Yes, we definitely have urban raccoons. They can be quite bold.

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I hope you have enjoyed the tour!

*The sign made me think of the wonderful children’s book, The Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White, in which the Louis, the swan, has no voice and so wears a bag with a small chalkboard and chalk so that he can communicate. I have no idea if the artist was purposely referencing the book or not.

** The OWRC stands for the Oakland Women’s Rowing Club, which was founded in 1916. It is the oldest continuous women’s rowing club in the U.S. The women are also known as The Ladies of the Lake.

Preserved Beauties

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Image: Zebras Child 2018

I had purchased these roses because they are my favorites: a lovely peach color, lighter in the center and ringed by a deeper hue. Sometimes the outside petals have the darker color on the tips, as you can see in the bottom rose. Once I got them home, and in the confines of my apartment, I realized that they were heavily scented. Their perfume was wonderful, but I am allergic to the fragrance. My nose started stuffing up almost immediately. What to do? I thought about giving them to a friend, but I truly loved their variegated color and didn’t want to part with them. So I put them out on the balcony. It was the end of December and while it is very rare for there to be a freeze here in the Bay Area, it was quite cold. I didn’t know how the roses would react, but the one thing that was certain was that I couldn’t keep them inside the apartment. So I took a chance and put them outside, careful to place them where I could see them from the couch. I expected that at most they would last a few days or a week. To my utter astonishment and delight, they lasted more than a month. The day I took this photo would have been my husband’s and my 44th anniversary. The fact that the roses had lasted that long was as if he had sent a bouquet.

Posted to Ragtag Daily Prompt: Rose

In Honor of Mothers

Here in the States it is Mother’s Day. But I want to expand the definition of what it is to be a mother. You fulfill a mothering role if

  • You are the beloved Aunt or Grandmother helping to raise a child
  • You are that favorite teacher to whom a child turns when their home life is in chaos
  • You are a foster mother, adoptive, or step mother

I want to especially wish a Happy Mother’s Day to those whose

  • Children are far flung and none of them are able to spend time with you today or call
  • Children have predeceased you, and people are afraid to wish you a happy Mother’s Day because they don’t want to bring up painful memories

I want also to acknowledge mothers whose children are critically ill.

And I want to add to this list perhaps the most forgotten category

  • Mothers whose child was born still, died shortly after birth, or was born too early to survive. To you, especially, I want to acknowledge that you, also, are mothers.

I want to honor each of you, wish you the best, and offer a collage of virtual bouquets.

 

All Images were taken at our wonderful local flower shop on Grand Avenue in Oakland, California. It is an oasis of calm, and has the comforting feel of a French flower shop.

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All above images: Zebras Child 2019

Tuesday Tea

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Image: Zebras Child 2019

I know I said I would just post photos for at least a week, but I want to tell you the history of this kettle.

The predecessor to this kettle was given to me by husband about 15 years ago. I had fallen in love with it through a store window up in Mendocino, California while I was visiting my mom. Let me remind you that my husband was the cook of the family, so it was his kitchen. He didn’t want to replace our large Revere Ware kettle with anything else because the Revere kettle could hold enough water to make enough drip coffee for guests all in one go. And there was nothing wrong with it. I couldn’t argue with that, but eventually the little plastic bit that enabled you to lift the small lid and pour, broke, as plastic bits are prone to do. Revere no longer made those extra large kettles, so he agreed to get me one of these wonderful pure copper English kettles for my birthday.

We used that one happily for about 12 years. But alas, we had originally bought the design that could only be used on a gas stove. Our retirement community only has electric stoves, so we needed a replacement. But in the intervening years, the price for these kettles had shot up a whopping 300%. That is not a typo. The original copper works factory that had been making these kettles for over 100 years found it too expensive to continue to operate and had closed down. These kettles had gone overnight from being ubiquitous in England and passed down from mother to daughter, to trendy and rare. Only the quantity that remained in the warehouse existed. I told him how much they now cost. He paled a little, but then said, “Sweet Love, I know how much you have loved using this kind of kettle. No matter the price, I will still get you a new one for your birthday. He did, and I think of him every morning as I fill the pot with water and turn on the electric stove.

Caught In a Web

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Aloe Vera Plant and a Web                                             Image: Zebras Child 2019

The past week has been exhausting. In a mostly good way, but exhausting none the less. Observing Holy Week, celebrating Passover with my Jewish older daughter, her husband and my grandkids, and sadly, going through both holidays for the first time after my husband’s death. I still can’t get used to the singular pronoun of “my” grandkids for instance, rather than “our” grandkids. Each time I find myself erasing the word our and replacing it with the word my it is an additional reminder of loss.

I need to rest, and I have decided for the next week at least, to focus just on my photography rather than both my writing and my photography. I find both activities healing, but in trying to post five times a week, I find that I have time and energy for little else. I have loved getting immersed again in both and trying to re hone my skills in both. But the apartment needs to be cleaned, I rather desperately need to shop to replace my glacially slow 6 year old laptop, and above all, I need sleep. Massive amounts of it, actually. Perhaps as I put up a photo some words might occur to me, but I make no promises. So I hope you enjoy the process as I experiment more with my camera and start to retrain my eye.