Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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My explorations…

A few months ago my stirling husband became so disgusted at the way our old iPad was working (as in slow and not responding) he decided to upgrade the device. His solution was to buy me a new one so he could remove all the photography apps from the old one. His goal was not to have them interfere with his reading and playing Sudoku. It worked for him and worked for me because I now have a new iPad Pro and Apple pencil. I have been blissfully happy trying to improve my skills. Here are my first excursions into the world of the Procreate App. What I liked about the process was taking photos from events years ago and reusing them. It was like I had a secret memory embedded in the images.

This was the oldest image that I took when I first retired. We were on a road trip and stopped to visit my lovely niece in Eugene, Oregon and she took us over to the Cascades Raptor Center. They have a beautiful Eurasian Eagle Owl and in my new version he got a new collaged background.

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This image was from our last trip to Venice. It is a lesser known dome taken as we passed by on the vaporetto.IMG_0090

This was an altered image from a museum visit combined with some embroidery by an outsider artist that I took the first time I visited the Biennale in Venice. The peacock I photographed during my 50th high school reunion two years ago that took place at the Arcadia Arboretum. It was a challenge to get all the elements to fit but I learned a lot at I worked on it.IMG_0121

Of course, an image from Morro Bay and some lowly old pigeons…IMG_0110

An animatronic toy from a toy museum in a castle near Stresa, Italy. IMG_0079

I was trying hard to learn how to use the Procreate App with its amazing abilities. I am a long way from mastering it but totally enjoying the process of trying. Other apps used in these images are Brushstroke App, Repix App, and Over App (for letters).


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October Bird Walk…

First Saturday in October we were on a bird walk for Terry’s master birding class. As luck would have it, the trip was to his old stomping grounds, Fort Chronkite and Hawk Hill in the Golden Gate National Seashore. Because of his involvement with the banding of hawks with GGRO we have been to this area many times and I have posted pictures from here often over the years. The difference this day was that it was 90° and crystal clear…no fabled San Francisco Fog to be seen. The first time I had seen this landscape with this bright light…

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The birders got to work…

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Some birds were particularly cooperative…

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After investigating Rodeo Lagoon and the headquarters buildings we ventured up to Hawk Hill…

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The blue patch on the right is Rodeo Lagoon from above…

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and we could see out to Lands End (I have posted pictures of those same rocks from a different angle here…)

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There was a lot of boat activity this day…

and raptor activity…

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I, however, started looking for shady spots to get out of the sun…no lack of antique battlements here…

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and no lack of killer views of the Golden Gate…

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This is possibly the best picnic spot in the Bay Area…or maybe the best picnic…I saw the food they brought in as they passed me on the path…

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The money shot…Golden Gate, Alcatraz, Yerba Buena Island with the Bay Bridge and Oakland behind it all…! On a clear day you really can see forever…

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Stairway to the stars…

After having such a fun Thursday, I am compelled to detour away from my tales of Switzerland just a little bit more. It is no secret that I have a passion for tile (in particular Heath), so when an opportunity came to visit San Francisco with a group of retired teachers from the school where I taught before going to Moraga’s JMIS, I was very excited. My heart skips anytime there are mosaics around. We started the morning by traveling to the Flora Grubb Gardens Nursery. Lots of inspiration there and it was well worth the trip as a prelude to what was to come. (They even have a coffee bar…can’t ask for anything more!) Loved this old car planted fully making itself into a garden ornament. Emphasizing the rule that anything can be a container…

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Then we drove to the Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood. This is in the Inner Sunset District and at 16th Street and Moraga Street are the steps. These 163 panels are of a sea to sky theme all the way up to the top. They are constructed with Heath Tile, handmade tile, mirrored tile and since it is a neighborhood supported project there are dedications, remembrances, and names of people and businesses from the neighborhood. The mosaic was completed in 2005 by Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher. The stairs are used for exercise and tourists come to photograph them. They are well used by the residents. We were there at around noon with full sun making photography tricky (I have mentioned before the difficulty taking photos with an iPhone with bright light and glare. There was also the factor that some areas were in sun and some were in shade.) Despite the handicaps, it was fun to photograph this artful reflection of a community.

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This woman ran up and down the stairs four times before our group had made it to the top once. Her feat was very impressive!

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I did love the use of the mirror tile…

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And then we were at the top…if you squint you can see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge…

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After walking down again, we went over to the Hidden Garden Steps located on 16th between Kirkham and Lawton. These steps were approached from the top and we walked down each flight to look back up for the impact. (It was definitely an impact!) These steps were dedicated in 2013. Once again you could purchase a tile to have your name on it or a business could purchase an entire motif such as a flower. (Here are photographs of how the artists plotted out the designs.) My pictures are from the top working down.

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Luckily for us, one of our group members was Susan Dannenfelser, a ceramic artist, who knows the artists who created the mosaics.  Aileen Barr met us and guided us around her work. This is Aileen resting on her artwork (or is that resting on her laurels…I think there probably are some laurels in this garden!)

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Came home from this field trip pumped up and ready to create…thanks Del Rey Rovers for the great day!!


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What Drake saw…

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A brief detour from blogging about Switzerland for a bird-walk last Saturday at Pt. Reyes…

We met the Master Birding group at 8:00 a.m. at the Five Brooks area of the National Seashore. Things started very overcast but abundant with birds…

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It was a nice gentle walk around one of the brooks…

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The group got in their cars and drove over to the park headquarters. Half of  the cars were left there  so that carpools could be formed. Parking spaces are at a premium on weekends in most of the areas of the park.

On the way to Drake’s Beach there were many stops so everyone could pile out of the cars in this case to see groups of raptors…(they do not show up in my photos but the count was high) and I was able to get the landscape…

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and Tule Elk here (those light dots in the second picture are really them)…

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It was still overcast when we got down to the coast…

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We were busy counting and someone was busy getting married…

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A monument to Sir Francis Drake…

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Here was one of the most amazing parts of this excursion. This is the first of two points where we saw barn owls flying…the most unusual thing, ever…in my whole life I have never seen a barn owl fly in daylight and we could not figure out what made this totally nocturnal bird do it…there is a spot in this picture that is the owl…

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After our picnic lunch, the sky started to roll back…

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and we were all happy…

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We drove around to the boat docks…finally we saw what Drake saw…

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Our walk out to the point where we could see whales breaching and spouting…

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By the time we made the walk back, there were sailboats in the harbor…

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This was a beautiful day…

 

 


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Montefalco…

I ran across pictures from two small towns that we visited last October in Umbria. Not far from Trevi and not very far apart, they could be visited on the same day. Lunch in the first one, Montefalco, and gelato in the second, Bevagna. Montefalco with red wine and peregrine falcons, may have been TM’s favorite small town we visited. He came home, anyway, with two posters for his cave (I do not know how he did it…not a single wrinkle). The posters celebrate the yearly wine festival.

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Peregrines were everywhere…the center of the town square, sewer covers, backs of chairs and benches, and shutters…

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Shots of the town on a beautiful, drizzly day, (we didn’t actually spot any real falcons)…

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The beautiful San Francesco church with its frescos from the 1450’s is the town’s museum…

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Hercules…

 

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In the restaurant where we ate lunch the cook created the “mixed grill” right in front of us…I can still conjure up the aroma…

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The next post will be Bevagna with its Roman mosaics.

 


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June Bird Walk…

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Lands End

From Leah Garchik’s column in the San Francisco Chronicle this week: “The season of summer vacations is upon us. Laurie Ustruck was at the western edge of the city looking at the ruins of Sutro Baths, alongside a mom who seemed to be visiting her daughter. Said the mother, “I thought you were bringing me to a Lands’ End outlet store.”

Definitely not one of your outlets, we found…

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The building on the left is the Cliff House Restaurant (more about that later)…

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We gathered with the group of birdwatchers from TM’s class. Early morning last Saturday. Actually, we were there by 8:00 a.m. which meant we left home at 7:00 and, much to my surprise, where we live was blistering hot, the beautiful coast stayed cool and foggy all morning as we walked. This National Park has stunning views and lots of history behind it. We parked above the Sutro Baths and walked the path that was where the steam train and later the electric street car delivered San Franciscans to the Baths. No outlet has that kind of history behind it!

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We were surrounded by yellows on the trek (and a little red, orange and pink) what with all the lupine in bloom…

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of course, monkeyflower…

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I finally identified what this is (and it came in many shades)…it is wild radish and is quite tasty!

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Caught our first glimpse of the Golden Gate (but was not golden in this light…couldn’t even see the tops)…

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A plethora of cormorants and gulls…Gulps of cormorants, rookery, sunning, swimming…

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and thickets where if we spent some time we would probably see many species…

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We circled up behind the Palace of Fine Arts where we had been the week before visiting the “Intimate Impressionism” show. I did not know there was a nice dome on the back…but the redtails were circling…

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We went down and around the golf course (watching our heads for errant golf balls)…

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and in these trees saw juvenile redtails learning stuff that birds learn when they fledge out of their nests…

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Once we came around the golf course we walked down the trail the way we had come…

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Harbor seals were up on the rock (definitely not “sunning” themselves).

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Oyster catchers (almost bright enough to see their flame scarlet bill with its orange yellow tip).

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Back to the parking lot and down the hill to the Cliff House for (wait for it…) Popovers and this view…

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As we walked back up the hill to our car we saw a redtail motionless on a draft having a good ride before he bore down on an unsuspecting rodent…

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The graffiti on the sidewalk said it all…

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Eagles, Red-tails, and Bobcats…

April’s birding field trip was close to home. Kind of happy not to have to get up at the crack of dawn to travel for an hour to get to the location. Saturday we just had to go 5 minutes to the Valle Vista Staging Area of the San Leandro Reservoir. Typical California rolling hills, covered with green because we have had some rain the last couple of weeks. The Reservoir is still very low, however.

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We took off from the parking lot…this is a tree swallow…

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This area needs a permit from EBMUD for entry but they are easy to get online if you want to take this trail. It goes off into some woods.

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Then it meets up with a bridge over a river…

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As I always say, the mark of a good bridge is its rust and lichen…

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For the group I was with, the mark of a good bridge was the Wood Ducks in the water…but I missed them…got the flowers, though…

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We continued walking toward the reservoir…

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We came to the water and its Great Blue Herons as well as Cormorants and ducks…

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and then the best sighting of the day happened…

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and he soared…an immature Bald Eagle…

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Lots of Bluebird boxes around…(a swallow on top of this one)…

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A sad note on the way back down the trail…near the horse facility on the edge of the trail there was a very ill bobcat. It just lay there, still twitching his ears and tail. Once he raised his head a little. As we watched, making phone call after phone call to the EBMUD and the Animal Control only to find message machines because it was a Saturday morning, he eventually got up and walked slowly toward the barn. (One of the people involved with the horses eventually drove up and when we told her about it she said that the day before the Animal Control had come out but when they got there the Bobcat had disappeared.)

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The only time I have actually seen a Bobcat in the wild. Its being so ill is the only reason. When TM got to the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital for his Sunday morning shift he found that Animal Control had brought it into the hospital Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, it did not survive the day. As we were making all our phone calls we did get to observe “Red-tails in Love”…this time of year, pairs circling, foot drooping…a lovely sight on top of the sad one…

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It was great weather for this hike and a nice morning…

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