Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…

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A weekend…

I was motivated to make a movie of our recent weekend in Morro Bay. I had taken a lot of short clips of crazy elephant seals, sea otters, birds, and surfers. Plus I was interested in seeing if I could make the entire film on my iPhone6. It has a larger screen than my previous phone and even though the iMovie app is not as complex as the version on my laptop I thought it would be interesting to see what could be done just with the one mobile device. Here it is: (Don’t forget to click on the small square in the lower right hand corner so that it displays full-screen. You really can see many more details in the images.)


Looking back, looking forward…

Even though my middle name was chaos these last few weeks, I was able to make an iMovie compilation of my year in pictures. When I got it together, I was struck by how many birds there were because of all our field trips. It turned out I even forgot to take pictures of my classmates at my high school reunion…just got the peacock strolling the grounds. I am glad I took the time to do this movie because, except for a sad thing near the end, it was a very good year. Although I am a little belated, Happy New Year to you and may your 2015 be stellar!!

Don’t forget you can watch the movie full-screen by clicking the small box on the lower right hand corner…


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.


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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Our day in Perugia, Italy, last October began in a foggy state but then lightened by noon. Our time there was enhanced by music and chocolate. The town was getting ready for its chocolate festival that would open a few days later. Here is a very short video of our day…to see it full screen click of the screen expansion in the lower right-hand corner.

Perugia has a very nice art museum in the Palazzo dei Priori (Town Hall that includes the Galleria Nazionale) and we saw an inspiring photography exhibit by Sandro Becchetti. Love those black and whites…This is the National Gallery of Umbrian Art in Middle Ages and Renaissance. The Griffin is the symbol of the town.


The Fontana Maggiore is the medieval fountain between the Cathedral and the Palazzo dei Priori. Built in 1277-78 it depicts prophets and saints, symbols of the months, signs of the zodiac, scenes from Genesis and events of Roman history.

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You can wander the streets and get to the top of the hill for some amazing panoramic views…

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There is an extended walk with escalators from the parking area up to the actual town…just a little spooky…


I fell in love with the black and white photographs in the museum, so I spent the evening after we got back to our apartment converting some of my images into black and white…

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Since I have been home I also layered some of the images together…

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Happy New Year…

I was looking through a year’s worth of photos to create a review of my year and try to use the split screen capabilities of iMovie. This time of year is such a natural demarcation for me because practically all celebration in my life occur between the last week in November and January 1st. TM’s birthday and Thanksgiving (usually the same day or very close), Christmas, my birthday, New Year’s Eve all in one week. New Year’s Eve is also the anniversary of when I met TM and the night he asked me to marry him. Only two kids birthdays and our wedding anniversary happen in other parts of the year. This movie helped to wrap up the year. It felt good to look again at all the parts of the year. The garden flourished and the seasons changed indicated by the farmer’s market produce coming in on schedule. We saw many exciting sites in the world and close to home. I didn’t realize how the California coast figured so prominently in our journeys and, of course, San Francisco. Visually entrancing places. I started to use Photoshop Elements again at the end of the year. 2013 was a very happy year for us…I wish a beautiful 2014 for you!


Detour, 2…

I did not take many video clips when I was in Venice. It was mostly when something that depended on motion to impart its interest presented itself. I did not start out trying to tell a story. For this class I was urged to make a short movie with only video clips, no stills. I was flummoxed at first because I had no linear story but I managed to put things together and am very excited that I also learned to split a clip and detach the sound track from one clip and duplicate it to use it with another. I did not have to spend any time on finding a soundtrack for this movie because Venice provided its own.

Here are vendors in San Marco throwing lighted balls into the night sky and gondoliers checking their text messages. We were standing in the entrance level of the Palazzo Querini Stampalia Museum where you feel like you are almost in the canal with it lapping at your feet. Our early morning venture to the seafood market where the fish are so fresh they are still moving. The traghetto, a gondola that only goes back and forth across the canal…tourists sit and natives stand. The last master craftsman in a long family line that does not know who to leave his gondola making business to because he only has daughters. Restaurants and, of course, street musicians…here is a sample of Venice…

Click the square next to the word vimeo (in the lower right hand corner) to make it full screen or you might miss the details…



I did try very hard to keep in chronological order when blogging about our recent trip to Italy. Here I must veer for a bit because I just got lost in my photos of the third week of our trip when we were in Venice. I had to do something with them. I will get back to the Umbrian hill towns, but I just can’t help myself…the visual was so rich there. This iMovie is a teaser of things to come.

We left our Ettore apartment near Spoleto at 8:00 a.m. because we had to be at the Venice Airport by 2:00 p.m. with our car turned in. We were to meet our Untours host Denny Jennings who would get us onto the transport (water taxi) and guide us to our apartment.


I was navigator and here is Garmin with our list of cities to look for so we were sure we were going on the correct road. We saw some beautiful scenery on the way…and made our rendezvous on time.

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We boarded our water taxi and as we approached the city, Venice rose up out of the lagoon. What I was seeing knocked my socks off, and around our house, now, when someone is distracted, forgetful, or late for something we throw out the phrase “What are you, lost in Venice?” Most likely we are…

We disembarked the taxi and made our way to our apartment across from the Frari Church (and very close to GROM Gelato). Looking out the window we saw the full church and looking down we saw a small canal with two gondoliers waiting. We had entered a world without a single car after having spent the previous two weeks dodging small cars on small streets  in hill towns (I love you Fiat!). Here in Venice it was all about the water. I don’t feel that the water and moisture seeped into my bones and joints, but I do feel that the city seeped into my soul. My iMovie is of the first few hours we were in Venice…(click to make it full screen)

After unpacking our suitcases, we wandered out in search of dinner. Got lost (the point of being in Venice, afterall) but eventually we found Dona Onesta…all the food was permeated by the sea…

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That seafood risotto was maybe the best thing I ever ate (I do say that about lots of things…but…it was really good!)

When we left the restaurant we promptly got lost, again. We were saved by a young, English speaking woman with a map. Thinking that the Frari Church steeple would be a good landmark did not take into account that it is not lighted and doesn’t stand out in the night sky, plus Venice’s streets tend to be corridors in caverns so what is a landmark going to do for you? We found home and we knew we were smitten with this city.

I was lost in Venice…I want to be lost in Venice, again…I am lost in Venice…



Todi had a funicular. So thankful for an easy way to get up the hill to the center of town from the car park. Very thoughtful to provide that for those of us with weak knees!

Todi’s lovely Piazza del Popolo sits on the site of their old Roman Forum and  the Duomo is surrounded by 12th century palaces.


The Duomo itself sits on the site of a Roman Temple.


One of the palaces contains the Museo-Pinacoteca e Museo della Città. The path up to the entrance door was a lovely staircase. Unfortunately, the Duomo was closed on the day we were there, but the museum was open and the women’s restroom had a wonderful view of the valley below.


Up at Piazza Jacapone, the San Fortunato Church (started in 1292) had a facade by the same architect (Maitani) as the Duomo in Orvieto.



No mosaic pieces but intricate carvings. Some at this point are missing their heads but it makes for a wonderfully textured facade.


There is also a Piazza Garibaldi with a statue from 1890.

Todi definitely has my stamp of approval…and a movie, too…

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Our first day-long trip was over to Orvieto (it took about an hour and one-half to drive from Spoleto). We had been there two years ago, so I have another blog post from that day that is here. Unfortunately, from my perspective, photos are not allowed inside the Duomo. The interior is an amazing piece of art, especially the frescoes by Fra Angelica and Luca Signorelli in the Capella Nova. The Duomo was started in 1290 and took 300 years to build influenced by plan changes and technical difficulties as well political and social circumstances. There were considerable costs due to quality of the materials and the fame of the artists involved over the centuries.

We met our friends, the Cozens, here for the day and after drinking in the magnificence of the facade of the Duomo with its mosaics, bas relief, and sculptures (not to mention the stripes), Chris and I detailed Terry and Darrell as scouts to ascend the Torre del Moro (clock tower with view and 120 steps, no elevator). They did us proud with view shots…


Chris and I did them proud with our meandering. We saw lots of boar’s heads.

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Tempietto di Clitunnus and Fonti del Clitunno…

Between Trevi and our farmhouse apartment were two historic sites worth visiting. The Tempietto was at first thought to be a Roman temple. Eventually it was found to be an 8th century Christian church. It was built with ancient Roman columns and other architectural parts from ancient buildings. The frescoes inside date to the 8th century which makes them some of the oldest in Umbria.

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The Fonti del Clitunno is a spring named after the river god and oracle Clitunnus who was thought to live in the waters. (The area is nice for picnics and has a fine restaurant and gelato bar.) It is said that the springs were used by Claudius and Caligula and have been considered sacred ever since. It is a small lake with lots of bird life. There is a movie! First the temple and then the springs and feathered friends!

Next will be Orvietto…