Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


Leave a comment

And the fun rolls on…

Second day into the new year and the fun just keeps happening…Saturday morning trip through San Francisco, over the Golden Gate Bridge and to Sausalito for tile samples at Heath (planning a new backsplash). Got finished so quickly at the factory store that there was a lovely hour for wandering the bay side harbor. Brisk, but beautiful, on the second day of the year…the sky was particularly lovely this day, what with all its pelicans and all…

IMG_4061

IMG_4071IMG_4073

Treasure Island and the San Francisco skyline from across the Bay…

IMG_4079

A spit just covered with pelicans and cormorants…

IMG_4080IMG_4082IMG_4086IMG_4097IMG_4090IMG_4095IMG_4096

Then to lunch on the theme of Italy, once again…which reminds me I need to revisit my photos from our trip to Italy in September/October to continue the story…

IMG_4103

 


4 Comments

It is a new dawn…

I have been a flake with posting blog entries recently but my resolution for 2016 is to “be better about it.” So first day of the year, first re-entry into the chronicles of the blog, and a big Happy New Year to you…

I have been thinking the last few days about how joyous it feels to wipe out the old year and start afresh. I am especially fortunate to get to celebrate my birthday on the 30th and the next day swing right into the celebration of the New Year. Mind you in a younger state I always felt my birthday was much too close to Christmas and next year I am pretty sure the whole concept of the birthday will land with a great deal of angst (because it will be the “big 7-0”). This year it was just very happy and fun.

My friend Gail is planning a trip to the Central Coast of California and asked be for suggestions of things to do (she has already done Hearst Castle and Cambria). It was fun to ponder this for the last few days because we are also going to visit the area in the middle of January for the Morro Bay Bird Festival. Plus when I focused in on what I like to do best when I am there, it fit my theme of wrapping up and starting afresh. I dug out a few pictures from my trip last year (they have been posted here before) but rejuvenation and the sense of impending joy made me seek them out.

Here you go Gail…roll out of bed at 5:45 (even though it is a vacation it is well worth the effort). Swing past the coffee shop on Main Street and then head out to the parking lot at the base of Morro Rock. Clamber down to the sand and stand at the wave line and as the sun comes up sip your coffee. It goes something like this as the light hits the rock. It really can’t be beat…fog and rain are the only things that can stand in your way. Oh, and the desire for a little more shut-eye might factor in…

IMG_8859

IMG_8867 IMG_8877 IMG_8882 IMG_8890_2

IMG_8905

It is a new day, it is a new dawn…Happy 2016 to you all! (Have a good trip, Gail!)

 


Leave a comment

Where have…

Where have you been? Sorry, blog, traveling again, but with weak access to the internet, so my plans to blog were scuttled when the iPad wouldn’t save and I only managed a few flics on Facebook the whole time.

We went to Italy (not a big surprise) and for eight days we were in an agriturismo in the Chianti region of Tuscany near Florence. After that we took the train to Venice and stayed for two weeks in an Untours apartment. This was the general outline…

The People…

IMG_0358

From the left: Marcie (also known as Marcella when in Italy), I have known since our thirty-year-old sons were in third grade. Around ten years ago she left Northern California and moved to Florence. She now lives in Toronto, but she still has masses of friends in Italy and she was the spark behind the first eight days of the trip. Next to her is Carol who has been on the same shift at the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital with Terry for years and years. (Carol’s husband is not retired, yet, so he did not join us.) Giovanni who owns the agriturismo where we stayed, (also, he drove the van). Bill and M’Liss are on the far side of the table. M’Liss I have known since the thirty-year-olds were three and we were in a baby-sitting co-op together.

IMG_0357

Giovanni by the van (maybe the greatest host ever!)

IMG_0058 IMG_0456 IMG_0457 IMG_0507 IMG_1091 IMG_1098

The agriturismo had skies like you wouldn’t believe and we were supplied with olive oil and wine from the fields surrounding our farmhouse.

IMG_1390 IMG_1393 IMG_1394

Nobody actually went in the pool. (No time, we were off seeing the sights!)

The places…

First morning (we got there on Monday and our first full day was Tuesday)…some went horseback riding at the Vecchio Texas Horseranch in the direction of Sting’s property and vineyards. (If you pay Sting enough money you can harvest his grapes for him!) The rest of us went to the market in Figline.

IMG_0314 IMG_0324 IMG_0333 IMG_0352 IMG_0353 Yes, that is a pig’s head…

That afternoon, (after a great lunch that included pici pasta (long and thick) and cinghiale ragu over tagliarini) we headed to the Chianti Cashmere Goat Farm. Three hundred goats are guarded against wolves by twelve Pyrenees-like dogs.)

IMG_0362IMG_0359IMG_0361

IMG_0391 IMG_0393

Great sky there, too…and then a quick stop in a lovely little town called Radda in Chianti.

IMG_0424

IMG_0422

Then on Wednesday, there was wine tasting in Panzano and a cooking class in Greve.

IMG_0475IMG_0506

Oh, yes, there was a lot of eating, too…

On Thursday, we drove to a nature preserve at Montepulciano and then spent late afternoon walking through the hill town of Montepulciano.

IMG_0518IMG_0550IMG_0567

There was a group that went off on a bike ride (or maybe it should be admitted that they got lost on a bike ride…)

IMG_0048

The clock tower in Montepulciano.

Friday was our first day in Florence with a hike up to Fiesole where Leonardo is thought to have tested his flying machines and then while most of the group toured the Uffizi with Marci’s friend Anna, Terry and I visited the Brancacci Chapel in search of frescoes. That evening we had aperitivos with more of Marci’s friends (Christina and Luca) in two different places. One a converted prison and the other the top of a hotel with a 360° view of Florence.

IMG_0771

Saturday we harvested grapes for Giovanni and his family and they gave us a fabulous al fresco lunch.

IMG_1105

Dinner that night was Christina and Luca serving us venison and polenta…

IMG_1103

Sunday was a hike with another friend, Malo, who is a basket maker and artist. She led us over to her house where she gave us a “snack” under her grape arbor…

IMG_0066IMG_1128 IMG_1146

That is a fabulous candle holder made out of two wine bottles…

IMG_1191

Dinner was in the local restaurant…

IMG_1180 IMG_1181IMG_1187

Monday was the big day! We climbed the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo…Carol got her portrait done by Kelly the street artist…and we visited Piazzale Michelangelo for some great panoramic views of Florence (cold wind, though)…

IMG_1275 IMG_1288

IMG_1336 IMG_1376

Our last day, in this part of Italy, we spent visiting another hill town, Volterra. That night there was a big BBQ cooked by Giovanni and attended by lots of Marci’s friends from different parts of the world. Much toasting to the great week.

IMG_1399 IMG_1400 IMG_1414 IMG_1512 IMG_1534

The next day (Wednesday) we were on the train to Venice for two more weeks of adventures, more great skies, and meet-ups with friends.

IMG_1558 IMG_1581 IMG_1587 IMG_1595

This is the outline and I plan more posts with greater detail. If you want to see the week in Chianti from Marci’s perspective you can go here for her blog.


1 Comment

Report from the field…

Anniversary dinner a success…

Not only a stroll through San Francisco but a very good approximation of tapas in Barcelona.

The restaurant…

IMG_0001

is located a half block from the Trans-America Pyramid…

IMG_0172 IMG_0174

and the food was like this…

Pinxtos

Pintxos

Jambon and the bread!

Jamón and the bread with tomato!

Kale salad and pepitos

Kale salad and pepitas

Patato Bravo

Patatas Bravas

Shrimp with preserved lemon

Shrimp with preserved lemon

Espresso flan with salted caramel

Espresso flan with salted caramel

Goat cheese

Goat cheese custard

The walk back to BART was not too shabby either what with strolling through the Embarcadero Center…nice night!

IMG_0179

 

IMG_0176 IMG_0177 IMG_0186 IMG_0185 IMG_0183 IMG_0182

Now, we work on the next forty-one!


Leave a comment

Day trips from Barcelona…number one…

Girona

Girona, which is about 60 miles from Barcelona, is a short train trip away. It has an annual flower show in May. Our trip coincided with the last couple of days of the festival, and we decided to exercise our train skills and spend the Saturday in this picturesque town when it would be festooned with petals. The entire town has floral displays…shop window displays, entryways, nooks and crannies, empty vestibules…you name it they stick a flower in it…even the river has its displays. We wandered and wandered, up church steps, across cobblestones and bridges, peeking into entrances. It was a lovely day, but windy. Catalan flags (the election was a week away) were furiously flapping. After getting off the train we followed green stenciled foot prints on the sidewalk up to the old part of town, passing community created floral displays (kids art!) and gazing at the town from a picturesque bridge (one of many). The town even has a bridge built by Gustave Eiffel…in the famous color of the Golden Gate.

We started our morning in the train station…note: there are ham stores everywhere in Spain…

IMG_0527IMG_0526 IMG_0525

This is Girona…

IMG_0600

A slide show of bridges, churches, flower displays and the highlights of the lovely town: (don’t forget to click the square in the lower right hand corner to play it full screen)

I know I said I would not post any more food pictures, but in Girona it was the only time we went to something as unusual (for us) as a gastrobar. So really I am compelled to share. (I have to admit that I have been known to watch the Food Network…you know, foam…)

The restaurant is called Bubbles…

IMG_0630IMG_0631

We started with Cava…

IMG_0632

Their “award-winning” tapa that included a poached egg, froie gras foam and thyme bread…

IMG_0633

This is coca bread, served and eaten at practically every meal in Catalona. Coca bread is spread with garlic, fresh tomato drizzled with olive oil, and lightly sprinkled with sea salt. So good!

IMG_0634 IMG_0637 IMG_0636 IMG_0635

Croquettas, steak, flat bread with tuna, and quacamole…yes, we kept walking…trying to assuage our guilt…luckily, we had more of the city to see and it was a long way back to the train station for the trip home to BCN.

IMG_0686


2 Comments

Miró and tapas….

IMG_2212 IMG_2213

Before getting to enjoy the balcony with double pillars in the front of the Palau de la Musica Catalana, we were treated with a small exhibit of the work of Joan Miró.

From the website describing the show…

The interview Miró granted to Georges Charbonnier in 1951 gives us a few key clues to understanding the essence of his work. To the question of whether the artist “has to put down roots”, Miró replied, “The roots of the land. The roots of the earth. Without in any way taking the earth to mean the motherland. I am talking about the earth that makes trees, a flower, a vegetable grow.” This point of view meant he attached great importance to popular art: “A plate made by peasants, a pot to eat soup from, are for me as wonderful as a piece of classical Japanese porcelain displayed in a case in a museum.” And from a taste for objects to sculpture is only a small step: the artist is driven to sculpt “for the direct contact with the earth, with stones, with a tree. When I stay in the countryside, I never think about painting. On the contrary, sculpture is what interests me.”

The pieces on display in this room, from the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona, are these words made solid; both the photographs by Joaquim Gomis, taken in the studio on the Passatge del Crèdit in Barcelona and at the Mas Miró in Mont-roig, and the sculptures by the artist himself. The former because they are visual testimony to Miró’s love for the elements of nature and for everyday objects, and also to his first pottery and sculptures, created from 1944-1946 onwards. And the latter, the sculptures, because a decade later Miró started out once again from objets trouvés to construct, by casting them in bronze, what are in fact assemblages of the objects he gathered and collected with such passion.

IMG_2150 IMG_2154IMG_2103IMG_2105IMG_2108IMG_2152IMG_2151

Then our group was led out onto the balcony and, when I looked over the side, I could spot the restaurant where we had eaten lunch. They have a very good deal and excellent food…so, here come my pictures of food!

IMG_2144

Tosca seems to serve just about all day long, but for lunch they have a fixed priced meal where you get to choose three choices from their tapas menu and since there were two of us that meant six tapas to share, plus drinks.

IMG_2071

Calimari

IMG_2072

Patatas Bravas

IMG_2073

Salad

IMG_2074

Empanadas

IMG_2075

Pork

IMG_2076

Seafood Risotto

Really, I am only going to make one post about food…but since the topic is Miró, it brings me to my memory of strolling down La Ramble to one of the Barcelona markets (there are markets all over the city, but this was our destination walk to possibly the most famous). Just outside of the market in the middle of the walk way  is a large mosaic in the street done by Miró.

IMG_2330

(Plus, there was this really cool building that contained remnants of when it was built. Originally, it was a store to buy umbrellas and it still contains umbrellas and a dragon on its facade…mosaic, of course). A pause in our stroll for the umbrellas:

IMG_2329 IMG_2312

The entrance to the Mercat de la Boqueria:

IMG_2326IMG_2325 IMG_2324

Yes, there was quite a hustle and bustle and we were even there early. We made our way toward the back (Rick Steves says the food stalls at the back are less expensive than the ones near the entrance.) We found two stools so we could slide up to the bar and started to order. Lots of chaos around us, good service, and lots of fun.

IMG_2317 IMG_2316

The menu above where they are preparing the food.

IMG_2313

Our waiter

Albondingas

Albondingas

IMG_2320

Croquettas

IMG_2319

Another day, another order of calamari, this time with a caprese salad

IMG_2323 IMG_2315IMG_2318

I loved the food in Spain, but being at home I am having a difficult time going back to no starches. While in Spain the starches were balanced by all the walking so there was no discernible damage. Unfortunately, at home it doesn’t quite work that way…Miró and tapas are not really connected, but if you are in Spain it is hard not to experience both repeatedly.


Leave a comment

Roofs, chimneys, pinnacles, and spires…(part two)

For those who might travel to Barcelona…I mentioned that you can purchase your tickets for the big sites online. For Park Güell, I learned something after I got home (from someone else’s blog). It seems that they had gone without tickets and faced a two-hour line in the hot sun in order to get in. One of the guards told them that if they came back the next day they could get in for free between the hours of 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. They did that, and there were no other people around. Great pictures without tourists, unlike mine! oh, well…Park Güell was still fabulous. I love trencadís!.

Park Güell

IMG_8004IMG_8005 IMG_8020IMG_8019IMG_8007IMG_8011IMG_8012IMG_8021IMG_8024IMG_8015 IMG_8018 IMG_8025

Casa Milà (La Pedrera)

Casa Milà is the building with no straight lines and roof vents and chimneys that look like they are out of a sci-fi thriller. Imagine this without the chain link, as it was originally…

IMG_8043 IMG_8044IMG_8042 IMG_8041 IMG_8040 IMG_8038 IMG_8031 IMG_8028 IMG_8026 IMG_8048 IMG_8052 IMG_8050 IMG_8049

Gaudí framed his own Sagrada Familia through a parabolic arch (one of his favorite architectural devices)…

IMG_8047IMG_8053 IMG_8058 IMG_8055IMG_8063 IMG_8062 IMG_8060

Yes, there are more roofs in the future…watch this space, again…