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.)


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Decay, winter nests, and hope…

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Decay

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Winter nests…

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Promises of new growth to come…

Playing with a new app to me, Lenka (black and white), plus Stackables…nice to wander in my winter garden between rainstorms…


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Down by the dock of the bay…

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Last weekend was the annual Bird Festival in Morro Bay, California, and we spent five days on the Central Coast enjoying, for the most part, lovely weather. Saturday it was smooth as glass as we glided on the Bay.

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Sunday, however, there were record swells over the breakwater (although the surfers did not mind) and a certain stormy-ness to the environment.

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Terry was off on a field trip somewhere and I wandered. The weather forecast was for rain for the rest of the time and I thought I might miss my “morning sunrise with coffee” in front of the rock because of it. I suspected I needed to walk any opportunity there was when it was clear, because otherwise I would get drenched. I set off…

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I had hoped I could collect items as I beach combed so I could compose small still-lifes in the sand. It turned out, however, that the tide had been extremely high but was now on its way out. It left a thin line of debris at it highest point that you can see behind the gull above. Lots of feathers were mixed in with shards of seaweed and all I had to do was bend over and take pictures of what pleased my eye.

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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…

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

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A spit just covered with pelicans and cormorants…

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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…

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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…

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

 


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Goats…!

The Chianti Cashmere Goat Farm was on our agenda of visiting places while in Tuscany. A wildlife-friendly farm with 300 goats and 12 large, white Pyrenees-type dogs protecting the herd from wolves.

Listen up, I am in charge here...

Listen up, I am in charge here…

Oh, I do not think so...

Oh, I do not think so…

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The goats are grazed on these hills of neighboring farms supporting the organic nature of the vineyards…

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There is a retail store with yarn, soaps, and woven items…

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The owner, Marcie’s friend, Nora, told us about the processing of the cashmere. (Of great interest to me, a former spinner and weaver. I even used to teach my art students how to spin wool using a knitting needle and a russet potato as a drop spindle.)

This was a very nice excursion.

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And the doves were nice, too.


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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…

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.)

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

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

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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.

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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…)

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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.

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

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

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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…

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

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Dinner was in the local restaurant…

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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)…

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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.

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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.

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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.