Hello and goodbye from Germany

I’m in Germany to help move my mother into a care home. Just as she’s been house-bound for many months, I’ve been house-bound, too, taking care of her while we’re waiting for her move-in date. In a very real sense, I’ve been living in her ever shrinking world, literally seeing only what there is to see within a few hundred meters of her house – the distance she can cover on her walker.

I don’t intend for this to be a sad post – more an exploration of what there is right in front of us when that’s all we get to see.

The village church is visible from the front stoop of my mother’s house:

On a sunny day

On a cloudy, misty day

This is the sight I’ve photographed more than any other: the neighbor’s 18th century farm house across the street. It’s the one constant in my mother’s life because she can see it from her living room and kitchen windows.

Late-blooming cosmos (left) and Jerusalem artichokes going to seed (right)

White cosmos

After dusk

Early evening, with sunflowers

Sunny day, with my mother’s Jerusalem artichokes

Sunflowers on sturdy stems

Food for the birds in the winter

Gloomy day

Sunflowers on the table cloth in the kitchen

One of several orchids in my mother’s kitchen window. An old friend of hers took this one home. The others are up for grabs, too, as are all her houseplants.

Hostas and sedums in front of the farm house across the street

Roses doing their best to hang on for a little while longer

Geraniums still going strong in the window boxes of another farm house nearby

Tree pollarded to within an inch of its life in the churchyard up the street

My favorite sight

The foliage of this grapevine is so red...

...it’s almost blinding

Succulent sightings have been few, beyond what’s in my mother’s living room window. Here’s my mother’s Consolea rubescens silhouetted against the gray sky:

Another Consolea rubescens and a Cleistocactus straussii:

Mammillaria sighting at the local Aldi supermarket:

The only outdoor cactus sighting:

I’ll be back in sunny California, among my succulents, in less than a week. It’ll be hard to say goodbye to my mother, but life has to go on.

© Gerhard Bock, 2023. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. Beautiful photos. Do you have siblings there to continue to help your mother? It must be a very difficult task for her and you too.

    1. Yes, my brother lives minutes away. He's been doing virtually all of the heavy lifting, bless his heart.

    2. Glad to hear that. It must give you peace of mind too!

  2. Oh that last photo is grand! I hope your mom settles into her new home and is happy there.

  3. So sorry to hear about your mother Gerhard. Always tough to see your loved ones age and to need extra help. I hope your mother settles in and enjoys her new surroundings. It will be nice for her to have the help and company. I find it a bit disconcerting seeing that big old farmhouse almost completely surrounded by road. Seems very out of scale.

    1. When that farmhouse was built, there weren't any real roads. Now it's right up against two streets, one quite busy.

  4. How nice to stop and see the small good things while doing a hard thing. I hope the rest of your time there goes smoothly and you all find comfort in her new situation.

    1. Knowing that she gets help when she needs it, at any time of day, is a great comfort.

  5. Your mother had a wonderful variety of sights from her home, Gerhard. I hope her care home offers views of nature too and that she makes some friends to add a bit of sparkle to what is a difficult transition in the best of circumstances. Best wishes to you as well - that's one of those life experiences we never imagine in our youth and are rarely fully prepared for.

    1. The care home has a large park-like garden. It's only a few miles away so visiting her will be easy for friends and family.

  6. Beautiful, beautiful photos, if ever so limited. Blessings to you as you go through this difficult transition with your mother.

  7. I was reminded of the 1995 movie 'Smoke', where the same street corner was photographed for years. Not quite the same, but your photos have the same subject at different times, illuminating it in new light (or lack of light).
    It's a challenge to find interest, beauty and purpose when the world is shrinking around you.
    Next to your mom's orchids I noticed a tile (or magazine) of Yosemite National Park. Although a world apart, she is right there in California with you.
    I hope the move the her new home will be as smooth as possible.

  8. Lovely photos. And a lovely tribute for your mother. My mother went into a care home at 98. She had very little mobility but got immense enjoyment out of watching the activity at a simple bird feeder
    outside her window. Thanks for a sweet reminder to enjoy even small windows onto nature.

  9. All the above comments are so lovely, I have nothing much to add. I hope your Mom makes a good transition to her new home and that it works well for her. Even a small world has much in it that can bring joy.


Post a Comment