Tag Archives: Birds

December 2013

Added on: 12/17/2013 02:12 pm

After a year, an update. 

– We still live in Davis.
It turns out that our initial choice was the very best too. After checking out San Francisco and surrounding area, like Hercules and San Rafael, and visiting lots of other places, we have concluded, there’s no place like… Davis. It’s safe and peaceful, we have enough living space with three bedrooms, 1.5 bathroom, a large kitchen, very large living room and garden, there is beautiful nature, mountains in the near distance, lots of space for me to bike on a flat subsurface, an Army of Love in our garden with a steady growing amount of birds and a small army of Squirrels.

Our feathery buddies in our front- and backyard include:
Anna’s Hummingbird, Scrub Jay, House FinchMourning Dove, Robin, Cedar Waxwing, American Goldfinch, Dark-Eyed JuncoRed-breasted Nuthatch (they sound like Zebra Finches!), Mockingbird, White-crowned Sparrow, Downy Woodpecker, Hermit Thrush, Red-shafted Northern Flicker And more!

* I will continue to update this list when I have more names of loyal birdie visitors. 

In Davis, additional: Turkey Vulture

Regular busy birdie day in our backyard (iPad photo), Mourning Dove in bird feeding trough and next to it
Regular squirrel day in our backyard (iPad photos)
Junco in our backyard
Hummingbird in our backyard and on our Hummingbird swing


Anna’s Hummingbird in our front yard
Red-shafted Northern Flicker in our Silk Oak
Squirrel in our backyard
Detail of squirrel in our backyard (all photos by me)

Davis is a perfect starting point for trips to San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, San Diego etc.. We have all the stores we need here in a very close proximity and at our doorstep: Trader Joe’s, Co-Op, Wholefood, Grocery Bargain Market, Nugget Market, Costco… and a lot more. Furthermore, UC Davis is all around us: an intelligent, vivid sphere to live in, with fantastic annual events like UC Davis Picnic Day (check out my clips of that on my YT Channel).

– We visited San Diego in the Summer of 2013, and I have to admit that San Diego maybe is even more beautiful than Northern California. We discovered a lot of new birds out there, like the Great Horned Owl. This fantastic bird has filled me with a desire to live there too. So let’s keep that in mind!

– Jeroen has an even better job now, as Programmer V. Before that, he was a Programmer II and he just leaped forward with three steps at a time. In his free time, he has become a real computer game boss, always eager to explore new ways to shape his programming skills.

– I have stopped working at the German Language School in Sacramento.

– We bought a Glock 19 mm, and have practiced thoroughly at the Gun Range in Sacramento. We both like shooting! Did you know all the Glocks, whatever the size, are the same price? At this time: $499 (without tax).

Constantia with her Glock 19

– We have bought an Open Wheeler game seat, because we love to race indoors. My favorite race program is called: Test Drive Unlimited, I really love to race (virtually) on Hawaii and Ibiza in a Bugatti Veyron. That has become my favorite car too. Maybe own one one day?

–  Speaking of Hawaii, we definitely want to go there as soon as time will allow it. Another travel plan consists of the direct California Zephyr train trip from Davis to Chicago (and maybe return by air plane).

– My eye sight continues to get worse (thanks, dad , love you anyway), and I have far worse eyes than any of the other family members including dad Joris: left: -9.25, +2, right: -7.75, +2

– After a very late start (getting my driver’s license in 2009), I am a pretty good driver now and it’s one of my new favorite things to do. I have a lot of catching up to do, here in beautiful America. Everything I missed doing in The Netherlands, I do here in California. Another example is the bath tub: we didn’t have one in Scheveningen, and we do have one here. So for a long time, I often was taking two bath tubs treats on one day. Now, I go in the bath tub once a day, almost always with Epsom Salt, taking facial very aromatic masks etc.. I simply can’t get enough of the bath tub.

– After quite some years not reading that many books (though listening to audiobooks), I have picked up reading, and read a lot now. Always with my contact lenses removed, because of my troublesome multifocal sight, I can’t read with lenses, even when they are multifocal. Without my contact lensens, I have to hold the book really close to my eyes, or wear my old pair of glasses, which still works pretty good.
Since discovering Nelson DeMille, I find it disappointing to read other authors like James Patterson and Mary Higgings Clark, but I do okay Karen Rose (she can write nerve wracking). Nelson DeMille is a great teacher for me, and I absolutely love his wit and very keen, intelligent humor and observations. I ony avoid his latest book “The Quest”  that turns out to be a reprint of a much older book of his, but then with more sex in it; it has very bad reviews, and I don’t want or need my very high opinion of Nelson destroyed by one possible misstep. I can only thank him for fueling the sacred reading light with new oil.
My reading location is foremost: the bath tub.

Nelson DeMille’s books and audiobooks (iPad photo)

– The weather in Northern California is ab-so-lute-ly amazing. Every day is a sunny day, with endless blue skies. First, I had to get used to that every-day-is-a-holiday feeling because of the sun here. Now we are used to it, and when there are a couple of clouds, we consider it ‘bad weather’ and stay inside. Yes, you get spoiled very fast.

– I laugh up my sleeve diabolically (yes, I know I’m bad) when acknowledging some Dutch stuff, like the terrible weather, the terrible incestuous bad TV shows, the problem with ‘bontkraagjes’ (though that object itself isn’t funny at all), or the fact that they consider an Euro Jackpot of 10 million to be large. (we have a Mega Millions Jackpot today (December 17)  of $636 million) .
Everything seems so small now in The Netherlands. Of course, we have some good memories there, but we are very happy to be future USA citizens (we plan to become US citizens in 2016, and I will vote for Hillary Clinton then).
I do have to admit, I reclaimed some European food stuff, like Bertolli pasta sauce, things they don’t make that well here in the US. Once in a while, I order something at the Dutch Store in Michigan. Why not have the best of both worlds, huh? But the US has a lot to offer for us vegans, like a very good range of vegan pizzas and marshmallows.
A little late (but better late than never) I discovered Trader Joe’s, and they have the good bread here (without the unhealthy long list of ingredients of average US bread), containing no sugar or high fructose corn syrup (this is an ingredient I have learned to avoid). Much like the great German bread in fact. Trader Joe’s is truly a perfect store with good prices for very good and pure food.

At Trader Joe’s they have American ánd European food of high quality and good price – Belgian Endive

– We love the TV Show Shark Tank.

– I have truly discovered e-Bay and Amazon (and more of course),  and order a lot of necessities and not-necessities online; only food I buy in our direct surrounding area, but even some food products I buy online. Stuff from all over the United States of America is shipped to our J Street in Davis.

– Yes, I still have frequent out-of-body experiences (and related experiences), and lately, all the more. I am very thankful for that, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

– In January 2014, Jeroen and I will be been married for 9 years already and even years longer than that together.

Jeroen and me, me reading the iPad book and he controlling the computer game – iPad photo by reversing camera (and with help of mirror)

– I have biked a lot, it keeps me in an overall good shape, both physically and mentally. More than 12242 km (7606 miles) since February 17, 2011.

– Emigrating was a little easier for Jeroen than it was for me; of course, he’s younger and I think age is of importance (let’s be real). In retrospect, I can see that I was a little more fearful than he was, but it turned out that the fear was unnecessary. I felt a little bit of the outsider the first year in Davis. Jeroen quickly found his way around; I took a little longer to drive without the TomTom and feel assured to do so. That kind of stuff.
Everything is different here, and people are different. There is a lot more reason to smile here, and so people do, and I had to refind my lighter self, but I think I am getting there real fine.

Furthermore, there was some adjusting for me to do regarding the very warm nights in the Summer and some chilly nights in the Winter (we have a wooden house here, with a different heating system than in The Netherlands), but I have adjusted to that with a great – made in Texas – bed fan in the Summer, and a ‘new’ body that adjusted to Californian standards. Actually, the Summer of 2013 wasn’t nearly as hot as the Summer of 2012, and the bed fan wasn’t needed that desperately. Jeroen didn’t have a problem with Californian temperatures, not even with the hot nights.
There were some challenges concerning cockroaches in our backyard in the Summer, but that ‘problem’ too, I have addressed. You just have to keep your garden very clean and remove bird and squirrel food every evening very conscientiously.  It wasn’t difficult, we just had to learn.

Summarized, immigrating does require flexibility, but if you have that, it is very rewarding and an immense boost for your body, brain and spirit (assuming you have made the right choice like we did, choosing the country and State that’s right for you).

My happy feet while writing this
Great Horned Owl

Sticking around

Added on: 11/01/2012 11:11 am

A short update. After some research of San Francisco (the city we have fallen in love with) and surrounding areas like Daly City, East Bay, San Rafael and Hercules, we have decided to stick around in Davis.

San Francisco is very expensive where housing is concerned. What we are looking for: a Single-Family Home, is almost impossible in San Francisco. We live in a kind of Single-Family Home now in Davis, in fact, it is a large 3 br, 1,5 ba, large kitchen and large living room, extra laundry room, semi-detached house. We have a front, side and backyard with the most amazing circus of all kinds of birds* and squirrels, and we would have to give that up in San Francisco.

* Most prominent birds in our garden: Anna’s Hummingbird, Scrub Jay, House FinchMourning Dove, Robin, Cedar Waxwing, American Goldfinch, Dark-Eyed JuncoRed-breasted Nuthatch (they sound like Zebra Finches!), Mockingbird, White-crowned Sparrow, Downy Woodpecker, Hermit Thrush, Northern Flicker
In Davis, additional: Turkey Vulture

There is more: biking in Davis, Sacramento and surrounding areas is ‘a piece of cake’ with lots of possibilities, because it is flat around here, and that too is a different piece of cake in San Francisco and surrounding areas.

We checked out Hercules: it’s a lovely place, and biking is possible, but it is very limited and there are a lot of elevations. It turns out Davis is very safe too; we heard that places like Richmond, that is close to Hercules, do have crime. The house we checked out in Hercules had an elaborate security system. In Davis, no such thing is needed, because like I told a long time ago, Davis is like a little city in a friendly, safe bubble. Even people in Davis describe it like that, without suggesting something like that to them; they are using the word ‘bubble’ themselves too.

The only thing I really do miss is some thunder and lightning here. Of course, sea wind like you have in San Francisco is wonderful too (and we had that in The Netherlands, Scheveningen). But we only live 1.5 hours away from San Francisco, and we have decided to visit it very regularly, for the wonderful sea (wind), the spectacular views and the delicious vegan food restaurants (in Davis you can eat vegan too and it’s good!). The summers in Davis are pretty warm. In the daytime that is perfectly all right, but the nights are a little too warm. I still have to figure that one out because I don’t sleep very well with a little noisy blowing air conditioning at night.

Davis has still more benefits: all important shops like Grocery Outlet, Co-Op, Costco, Target etc. very nearby. It seems like we are in the heart of everything right here. Davis Picknick Day, to mention one of the magical things around here, is symbolic for the true heart of Davis, and now I have seen and researched other areas in NorCal, I again have to acknowledge the fact that Davis was the best choice and still is. Jeroen totally agrees with it, and it was I in fact, that got the idea of maybe moving again, before looking deeper into it, that is.

I now fully and deeply realize the choice for Davis was a very smart one.

Jeroen has been offered a job as a programmer and he has accepted. Still, if we would have thought that living in Hercules was the thing to do, we would have done it, and then Jeroen would have traveled by car, because he said he wouldn’t mind at all. I still teach in a German School in Sacramento and it is a very nice job and I enjoy it.

I actually get a kick driving myself in the evening, with the radio on, another travel experience and I love travel as much as I love birds, maybe a strange comparison, but still. Maybe the comparison isn’t that strange, because birds and travel are in fact about the same: having wings, moving and enjoying beauty.

There is one thing: if we would win the Lottery (like we have before , the Green Card Lottery) and would have a considerable amount of money to spend, we would be looking for a new place again, probably the Golden Gate area in San Francisco, because there you have Single-Family Homes with gardens, and there is a recreation park too, where you can bike and hike.

Photos ~ all shot by me

Our house
Hummingbird in our backyard
Davis’ Mockingbird
Davis’ Mockingbird
Mourning Doves in our backyard
Mourning Doves in our backyard

The adventures of Squirrel in our back- and front yard:

Squirrel sticking around, like we do
Squirrel riding my bike
Squirrel ‘Studio’ photoshoot, “Striking a pose”
Cat and mouse squirrel play
Cranes birding around Davis
Cedar Waxwings and Robins enjoying our sprinkler system in our front yard

One Year In The USA

Added on: 10/14/2012 12:10 pm

Dear Readers.

I am not sure if you have been missing my blogs, but is has been a year since I wrote one. Maybe some people are wondering how Jeroen and I are doing in the USA?
Some people on my own Dutch forum of www.doorhetraam.nl even wondered whether I was deceased, so I thought: maybe I should write a new blog, it’s long overdue.

We are still living in Davis, and it hasn’t rained here for about 5-6 months now. Every day is a sunny day with an endless blue sky, sometimes a few modest clouds. Our garden is filled with divine Hummingbirds, Scrub Jays and other subtropical birds. Don’t forget the squirrels! We have been doing fine. North California is an amazing, almost heavenly place on Earth. Nature is endless and beautiful, people are very friendly, and the environment is well taken care of.

Since June 2012, I have been teaching German again, part-time, at a German language school in Sacramento. Because I was out a couple of years (since 2007), I had to refresh my German again. Teaching has always been in my blood, so it was not hard to teach again. New was the combo-use of German and English – no Dutch anymore. The American people I have in my classes (age approximately 23-75) are very eager to learn, polite and friendly students. Keeping ‘order’ in the class is not an issue , so I can concentrate on the content of my German curriculum.

A lot has changed. It was only December 2009 that I received my Dutch driver’s license. Now I am driving myself to – among other places – Sacramento. Because it is an evening school, I have to drive back in the dark. My Guardian Angels are still paying attention, because I didn’t ‘crush’ myself or others, not even the car, and I could have, because I am a little night-blind. Because of that, I am wearing my ‘cool’ night glasses when I drive back after dark.

I am certainly not saying that I am a bad driver, because I see a lot (almost everything) and drive carefully and very aware, but I have been making mistakes. In a mysterious way, nothing ever happens, knock knock on wood, and let’s keep it that way. We are driving an Audi A4 we bought in Los Angeles. It’s a fine driving car.

Jeroen is still working as a programmer and is repairing pcs and Macs too. Regarding work, Davis has been a little quiet on him; there is a tough competition here in the lovely and little, student filled City of Davis. Fortunately, he still has customers from the Netherlands. We think San Francisco is a better work place for him.

We both have fallen in love with San Francisco, a city that is a 1.5 hour drive away from Davis. Davis is truly wonderful, but there is almost no wind, no thunder and lightning and no sea. In The Netherlands we lived in Scheveningen for 7 years, we could see the sea from our living room. We miss the wind and the see. We see Hummingbirds and all there is in Davis, in San Francisco as well; so we would still have our feathered friends there, if we move to there. The climate is a little bit more moderate than in Davis: Summers In San Francisco are less hot and Winters are less chilly at night (though it almost never freezes in Davis ánd in San Francisco).

We visit San Francisco as often as we can, and we are always very delighted to be there. It’s a magic place, both in the daytime and in the evening. In the evening and at night, you will see a million distant lights, in a wonderful 3D landscape with buildings and houses on a lot of steep hills. Sometimes you see thick drapes of mist hanging over the hills and mountains like waterfalls. At the coast side you can bike too.
That was one of the main reasons why that we started in Davis, not in San Francisco. In Davis you can bike, like in The Netherlands. In San Francisco you have the most amazing steep streets; you wont believe your eyes as a Dutchie. But you can bike, if you know where to go. And of course you can throw your bike in the car and drive somewhere where you can bike.
San Francisco is very expensive, that is to say, the rent is about $500-800/month more expensive than in Davis, and in Davis the rent is more expensive than in The Netherlands. So we cannot just go there, we have to make sure we can afford it. But the (vegan) food in San Francisco is very good and very cheap, if you want to: 2 lbs (±1 kilo) bananas for only 0.50 $ in the Chinese Quarter, downtown.

I had a job interview at the Goethe Institute in San Francisco and here too: they said I am welcome, as soon as we have come up with a new living plan. I really love the school in Sacramento too, so we have to see how we can work everything out. I am very thankful to the school in Sacramento that they hired me, and let me have my first American-German teaching experience.

About German: it turns out that my choice to study German, was not only a good one in The Netherlands, but in the United States as well. German is considered an important language here too, and here likewise, there are almost no certified German teachers / teachers German who have a valid work permit, and I have one. Thanks to Jeroen winning the DV Green Card Lottery, we both have our permanent resident cards and we can work and do (almost) everything American people do. In fact, in 4 years from now, we are planning to become Americans, to apply for Naturalization. You can, if you have lived for 5 years in the US and we want that very much.

Back to German: it’s the same old story as it is in The Netherlands: not much students to learn German, not many German teachers. People keep seeing Germans and/or the German language as related to World War II. A pity for them, but better for me, because all schools that are teaching German in California, are steadily looking for German teachers. I cannot teach at regular American high schools, at least: I am not sure about it, because maybe I would need a Californian teacher’s certificate and that takes a lot of money and time to get it. But I can teach at adult schools like the one where I am teaching right now.

Here you can see my Green Card:

This Green Card still makes me very proud and Jeroen and I are very grateful to have won the Green Card Lottery.
The only thing I can’t do, besides of becoming the first female President of the United States (because you have to be born in the United States for that, the Republicans didn’t even believe Obama, that he was born in Hawaii) , is vote. Nor can Jeroen. You have to be naturalized for that, but we do hope we can vote in four years from now. Maybe we are just in time to jump on that voting train in 2016.
Of course, Obama will win the 2012 Elections, not hunter-killers and liars Romney and Ryan. Can you believe that Romney likes to kill innocent pheasants, the most beautiful, colorful birds? Ryan is a regular hunter too. And I can call them liars, because they áre, and even the Democrats can call them that, and then so can I.

Even my hairdresser, her name is Soon, said Obama is going to win the 2012 Elections and she is not even in his favor. I have always though Obama will be reelected, of course because I want to, but because of another reason too. There is no place for somebody like Romney and Ryan anymore, times are changing and people are getting more aware. It is not  “I” anymore, but “We”. Ryan and Romney still don’t understand, and Romney was saying what he was really thinking: that he didn’t care about the 47 % of the Americans who are not in his favor. He’s twisting and turning, just to get elected now, and squeezing the truth till there is nothing left of it. But I firmly believe this time the Cosmos will say NO to the Republicans (again). Of course, Jeroen and I are here now, and hope to shine a little extra to make it so.

Next election we hope to vote ourselves: of course for the Democrats and for an animal and bird loving (female?) President, not ever! for somebody who enjoys killing pheasants and other divine creatures.

Next time, I hope I will write you form our new house in San Francisco. We are not there yet, but it is our goal. I always like to think: “Waar een wil is, is een weg” (Dutch): “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

That’s me in front of San Francisco

I forgot to mention that I am working as a volunteer; it’s in the Pence Art Gallery in Davis. That is wonderful because of the real fine art in this Gallery. There are a lot of talented artists in Davis and surrounding areas.
Look for instance at this piece, it’s nor regularly painted, but made with a very difficult to master lacquer technique (hot wax painting). I adore these two birds!:

Link to Artist

So, Jeroen and I are exploring San Francisco and surrounding areas; here you see Jeroen, looking at me and now at you too:

John in Daly City, San Francisco

If you want to see more photos, then visit my Twitpic, Camera+ and Google pages.

Next year on January 6. 2013, Jeroen and I will be married for eight years already and of course know each other even a lot longer than that. We are still an interesting and matching team. Though we are true opposites some times, there is this magical match. We are completing each other, and if I play a ball, Jeroen will kick it in, and vice versa. Love always leads the way and it is love that glues people together. Only love.

About my out-of-body experiences: I still have them and other interesting phenomena, but I do have a little bumpy road. Immigrating into another climate and totally different country is a little tough at night (high night temperatures, being tired, new bed room etc.), and I have been missing the thunder, lightning and wind here in Davis. Every time I visit San Francisco, my astral energy builds up again, one important reason too to keep on moving.

Btw. Our house in The Netherlands at this moment still hasn’t been sold! Please don’t ask me more about it; the economic wind in The Netherlands is just very bad right now and we had to leave the apartment behind, because we couldn’t wait forever and we didn’t want our Green Cards to slip through our fingers. I do miss my Zebra finches, and canary, every day, I had to leave them behind too, and I still blame myself for that. I miss my mum and dad too.

Oh my, there is so much to update on, after one year, I am so sorry.

I had my fourth book , Through Heaven, in the iTunes store for about a year, but I can tell you, and warn you about Apple (Developers Service Centre): don’t work with them, or when you really have to, be prepared to be very, very patient or to just accept the fact that they just can’t and won’t solve problems that pop up.
Because I had immigrated to the United States, Apple had this problem (turned out to be a HUGE problem for the oh so ‘skilled’ Apple peeps) turning my Dutch account into an American one, with my new American Social Security Number. Daniel, my apps’ developer for Through Heaven, told me in the past, he had problems with Apple too, and that they just didn’t solve them (!).

After one year, iTunes/Apple decided to withdraw my 4 Through Heaven apps – two for iPad, Dutch and English and two for iPhone Dutch and English –  because they just couldn’t get it right.
I have e-mailed them more than fifty times (yes, you read this right, more than fifty times), I was on the phone with them several times, but they kept asking the same question: “What is wrong, can you please make a screenshot of…?” And then: “We are going to solve this, this is your reference number…” etc. They kept appointing new persons to solve it, but none of them did! And then, time and time again: nothing. More than 10 months passed and Apple still couldn’t get my new Social Security Number into their system. Makes you wonder about Apple’s true competence, ay?

So, I got really mad, writing Apple that they most definitely have the worst customer service worldwide, and that I wanted my money back (about $100) for the second year I paid them. That I developed the apps to no avail, because they had now withdrawn them, and that I, after receiving my money back,I didn’t want anything to do with them ever again, and would warn other people. Now I have and now you know.
I am planning to make my children’s book Through Heaven available as free download PDF soon.

I don’t think you think I am exaggerating about the service of Apple, but if you do, I will convince you with this: they decided to give me my money back, and this last person wrote: Apple never refunds, but now we do.
So you know, and I know and they know too, they have been blundering big time; else they wouldn’t have refunded my money.
Let me cite a part of their last e-mail:

I understand that your request was for refund for your renewal purchase. I had sent the previous email to advise you that I was reviewing the issue. We are generally not able to issue refunds however in light of your situation I wanted to review the details of the case prior to making a determination.

After reviewing the details of this case, I am able to issue a refund for your renewal purchase as an exception to our no refunds or exchanges purchase policy. Please allow 5-7 business days for the credit to post to your cardholder account.

Two days ago, I received an (in my eyes very daring) e-mail from Apple, now asking about my ‘experience’ with them. I very happily filled out their form, giving them the lowest review possible and these final words about what I think about their service:

The worst ever!!! After more than 50 (fifty) e-mails, several phone calls and more than 10 months, the problem Apple system was causing with my registration still hadn’t been solved. It still isn’t solved. I asked my money back for the second year because my 4 apps were withdrawn because of Apple’s OWN mistake. Now I have developed the 4 apps to no avail. I will advise everybody I know NOT to work, ever, with Apple Developer Support! This is no joke, I am dead serious.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, to do warn you about Apple, and to let you know why I wasn’t able to keep my Through Heaven apps in the iTunes store. I regret that very much, but you will be able to download the children’s book soon.

It is almost Halloween here, and maybe I should wear an Apple costume to complete the ‘scary Halloween characters’.

Halloween Scare-Crow
Painting by artist Linda Apple

One more thing, something trivial, but maybe you like to know anyway. Our favorite American TV series now (we are watching it on www.hulu.com), is The Dead Zone.

Are you following me on Twitter? You can, here (updated). On Twitter, I am most active and you will find updates almost every day.

So, see you around, somewhere, somehow. Next time a blog from San Francisco?

Little peeps (protected species in San Francisco) on San Francisco shore line