Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…




There we were…hopping into the ’68 Datsun station wagon that had stood the test of miles, freshly married, dirt poor, (but no debt after law school…you could do that then), enthusiastic about what life held for us. In it together for forty-one years. Tonight we are off to a tapas dinner in San Francisco trying to recreate that lovely trip to Barcelona a few months ago. Onward and upward! (This morning we were awakened by a 4.0 earthquake! Just shows you how earth-shattering August 17 really is!!)

Here is how I made this image…

I walked through my garden to take these pictures…

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Then I started to combine them all using the ImageBlender App…


Put the last one through Waterlogue App to get this…

Took an iPhone photo of an old wedding photo….


Gave it some touch ups (after all these years, the colors on all the wedding photos are really altering) and a frame in Snapseed App…


It was added on top of the flowers and angled by using ImageBlender…


A frame was added to the entire image in Snapseed and then text was laid on top with Over App. Fin

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Day trips from Barcelona…number one…


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…

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This is Girona…


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…


We started with Cava…


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


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!

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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.


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Transforming my frustration…

I have mentioned before how much I love the app Snapseed for processing my iPhone photos. For many, many years it has been my go-to, all-purpose, crop, clean-it-up and tweak app. So imagine my surprise when I opened it last week to find that there was an entirely new version. I am so set in my ways, I was immediately frustrated. That frustration grew and grew as I tried to do the things that I have always done, but couldn’t find the work flow as it had always been. hmmm, I said, why would you do that to me oh, favorite app…

Many YouTube videos later and a walk in the garden yesterday, I have made my peace…I at least know where things are now.

Fernald's Iris

Fernald’s Iris

lewisia - Version 2


Pink Monkeyflower

Pink Monkeyflower



New dwarf Butterflybush

New dwarf Butterflybush

Swallowtail looking for new dwarf Butterflybush!

Swallowtail looking for new dwarf Butterflybush!

California poppy

California poppy

California poppy

California poppy

So I say, people, take out your green grass lawns, install drip irrigation, put in native California plants…you will not regret it as you face the draught…spot through the garden a few non-natives, like a Cecile Brunner in a planter…you will have no end to willing photographic subjects…and you might get to liking Snapseed again as well as saving money on water fees!

Cecile Brunner

Cecile Brunner

And with great anticipation of getting to try a new feature of the Snapseed app (it now includes a function called Transform, which allows you to tweak perspective both vertical and horizontal…so all those tall buildings in a big city…no leaning towers except in Pisa! In a few short weeks we will be off to soak in the architecture of one of the most interesting cities…for now, from an old photo, here is what it can do…


original…notice right hand edge of building

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now it is straight!

I really like Snapseed again!


A walk with Priime…


Took a morning walk with a new iPhone app I had just purchased. It is called Priime and it is free, but, of course, if want the full complement of filters and lenses, you would have to purchase them once you are in the app.  I liked what it did, so I did.

Here is a discussion of how the app works, in case you are interested: http://iphonephotographyschool.com/priime-app/

Our walk had a particularly nice sunrise…

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and I discovered that my neighborhood school has an answer to the “love-lock bridges” of Paris which are being crumbled by the weight of all the locks.

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Looks to me to be ceramic hearts by first graders…oh, the love…

I also used Priime on some new things in my garden…my new Meyer Lemon…

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and more colors of Douglas Iris that are popping out…

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Kandersteg light…

It is true, I would not mind living in Kandersteg for a year just to chronicle what the light can do to those peaks. Won’t happen so I am left with my two week sampling…







Oh, and the flowers…everywhere…






Down at the corner from where we stayed was this wonderful chalet owned by an elderly couple who would greet us as we walked past. Besides the window boxes do not miss the sled on the side of the house and the biggest basket I had ever seen…


Plus a replica mini-house in the garden…

Here is another one…

One rainy evening we walked south of town to Gasthof Ruedihous Restaurant (a Swiss Heritage site of national significance) for traditional food.

It has a beautiful demonstration culinary garden in front and judging the composed salads we got the produce had just been picked from here.

This is where I got raclette. You can see the wheel of raclette cheese waiting to be melted and my plate with the best handmade pickles I have ever eaten.


One clear evening we sat outside under blue sun umbrellas and watched this young man walk the top of the fence. As agile as a mountain goat…


That evening there was enough sun for a reflection…

However, the night before our last day the rain created a bit of a problem and our only disappointment. It rained hard all night up high causing snow to melt.

We could see from the train some flooding…


We arrived at our meeting place with our guides to take us up to high elevation to see where the cows are taken for the summer and to watch the cheese making process. Unfortunately, the bus had been cancelled because the road was too treacherous. Under these conditions how do you make lemonade? We hopped back on the train and rode it to Bern. The buildings in Bern have arches along their first level (called rohr which is slang for pipe). Strolling through the covered arches is rohern or to go piping. So, we went piping in Bern and had a great time!

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An impression of Lands End…

When we arrived for the bird walk last week, it was frigid weather and I opted to sit in the car for the first twenty minutes while the birders stood on the bluff with the cold wind whirling around them.They were oriented to the area by their guide. The hardy gazed off into the distant foggy sea while I decided to clean up my camera roll in my iPhone. That put me in mind that I had not looked at the Hipstamatic app for a long time and when I scrolled through I found there were four combo packs I had not downloaded.  I purchased them and then tested each one out. One combo reminded me of the feeling of the area (the visitor center that we had been in on a previous visit contains lots of old photos of  when the Sutro Baths were in their heyday).  I decided to do some triple barreled shooting on the walk. My Canon for the view shots, my native camera on the iPhone for the close-ups of flowers, and Hipstamatic app for atmosphere/flights of fancy. The Canon was slung around my neck and the iPhone was in my pocket and I had to keep thinking which of the three I wanted to use…but I think it helped with getting me to be alert…it was awfully early on a Saturday, after all. This post is the impression shots of the area using the combination of  Yoona lens and Shilshole film in Hipstamatic…there is a story, here, of craggy bluffs, wind-trained trees, and crashing waves with the foundation remnants of history. That is my visual story, and I am sticking to it…think I will make a book…

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June Bird Walk…


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…


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


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…


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…


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…


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).


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…



Report from the field…

I am happy to report that despite the drought, the grape vines in Healdsburg are in good shape…


At Preston Winery and Farm Stand, all is well…

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and I learned that Butterfly Bush flowers make a lovely addition to a flower arrangement. Who knew?


The winery cats are good-looking and do not like to move. (This may be the biggest cat I have ever seen.)

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Over at the Pedroncelli Winery vines are climbing into the sky…

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The really good news is that the peach stand is open earlier than ever (and the peaches are fabulous).

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So get up there and remember as you drive that one side is the passing side  and the other is the sui-side…


When I got home I took the armload of clarkia flowers that I got for $5.00 at a roadside stand and added a few of my own Butterfly Bush flowers. Nice!


and my Butterfly Bush just keeps on attracting butterflies…and the flowers are going to be brought inside for good use.



Mt. Diablo, part two…

Our second hike on Mt. Diablo was the following weekend. We started out on the same trail but at the fork in the road we took a side trail that gave us some elevation and a different perspective on the landscape. The same plants were blooming but we found a few new ones, also. Significantly, the sky was quite different with a texture of cotton balls.


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The lovely Ithurial’s spear…


Coast paintbrush…


Blue elderberry…

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Pitcher sage…

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and some insects…



Square mariposa lily

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California sagebrush with a ton of monkey flower…

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The monkey flowers up close and personal…

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California poppy…


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and then at the end, like frosting on a cake, a Redtailed hawk sitting on the branch of a tree…



May Bird Walk…


The month of May and TM’s bird walk, with me tagging along, was once again close to home. It could not have been better weather, too. The site was Mt. Diablo, where it can get very hot and water is a must to carry, but our walk had perfect weather. . .in fact it was so pleasant we took the hike two Saturdays in a row. We arrived from the town of Clayton on Mitchell Canyon Road. The day-use fee of this park is $6.00 and there is a lovely picnic area, a park headquarters for trail maps, and a demonstration garden of native plants. We didn’t actually need the garden because we saw examples of native plants all along the trail, plus a couple of new (to us), very showy types.

On the first part of the hike we got a view of the quarry that is just outside of the boundaries of the park (what man can do to a mountain…)






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Many types of oaks…


and a demonstration of how Monkey flowers (Mimulus aurantiacus) can evidently grow anywhere and with very little water…





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While the birders looked for the small, flitting birds (here they are looking for a Lazuli Bunting)…


I looked on the trail for insects, wildflowers, and blooming plants…found a Swallowtail…


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I found Ithurial’s spear (Triteleia laxa)



California buckeye (Aesculus californica)

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California wild rose (Rosa californica)


Chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla)


The unique Globe Lily Mt. Diablo Fairy Lantern (Calochortus pulchellus)…(new to me)…


and the Wind poppy (Stylomecon heterophylla) that I had never seen before…

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This one I did not know…please identify if you know it…


The trail was easy…





We passed a bushtit nest by the side (talk about small, flitting birds that are hard to photograph…the story of my day!)…


Finally, at the end of the hike I was able to get a photo of the Lazuli Bunting…with a lot of cropping you can kind of see the blue…

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