Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


Angels, Colossus, and a Poet

Terry and I arrived in Rome Wednesday for a two week stay after which we will go to Venice for two more. We have an apartment in Trastevere close to the Tiber River.

We walked across the bridge to Castle Sant’Angelo with the other Untours participants for our event on the first day. I felt all eyes were upon me…not real eyes but these eyes…

Even lovelocks!

And inside was a big colossus.

Almost to the top of the castle was an angel by Raffaello da Montelupo that had been at the very top until it got hit by lightening and was moved down. It had my favorite wings.

Then at the very top is the bronze Michael the Archangel by von Veuschaffelt done in 1753.

As we left we used our eyes to view the Vatican in a display.

As luck would have it, each time we take the bus we are watched by this neighborhood poet. (Belli)

And sometimes, just random guys….

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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.


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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Pelicans in December

One can’t help admiring

their rickety grace

and old-world feathers

like seasoned boardwalk planks.

They pass in silent pairs,

as if a long time ago

they had wearied of calling out.

The wind tips them, their

ungainly, light-brown weight,

into a prehistoric wobble,

wings”-end fingers stretching

from fingerless gloves

necks slightly tucked and stiff,

peering forward and down,

like old couples arm in arm

on icy sidewalks, careful,

careful, mildly surprised

by how difficult it has become

to stay dignified and keep moving

even after the yelping gulls have gone;

even after the scattered sand,

and the quietly lodged complaints.

J. Allyn Rossser


Apps used: Snapseed and Layers

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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.)




Today was Cliff’s last day. After a month of extreme decline it became the time. We got him when he was around eight and now he was seventeen and many of his parts just wore out. He was a fine old Maine Coon cat. Mouthy…he would stomp through a room complaining the entire time…like: why weren’t we doing what he wanted/demanded. Never a lap cat, he would appear on the couch next to me and head butt my side until I would stroke his head and when I stopped he would reach out his white paw and pull my forearm over until I scratched his chin. Mr. Cliff (he demanded respect) will be greatly missed, here, but we are eternally grateful for the humor he blessed us with all these years. He was fun, funny, and a good friend to all who lived and visited here.

Our dog, Katie was very hard to photograph because she was entirely black with only a slight bit of red where her eyelids sagged, but not Cliff. He was majestic with a big mane and quite fancy whiskers. He was lazy and sedentary by the time he came to live with us, so he was perfect to try out new iPhone apps on. He always held still for his close-up. Hence, he was the subject of lots and lots of photos. These are some of my favorites…


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Oh, yes, and he did this…


We are pretty sure that as soon as he ran across Katie again he whacked her across the nose. Oh, Cliffie, we will miss you…

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Our trip to Umbria last October included two weeks staying on an organic farm and taking day trips to a variety of towns. Some were very small, but the largest, Assisi, was the last day trip we took before leaving our apartment and driving for six and one-half hours north to Venice for a third week on our trip. Assisi was the largest population-wise but also had the largest geographic footprint. We parked in a structure on one edge of the town and then during the course of the day walked the length of it in order to see the largest Basilica on the opposite side. Unfortunately, for us, the going was downhill and the finding the car again was all uphill. It was an exhausting day, but very beautiful.

With this post I can tie up the strings of this trip (just in time). I actually have tons more photos of Venice. As TM was deleting them from the camera roll he remarked, “Does having 3,000 photos of Venice on a camera roll mean that that is the most picturesque place we have been?” Well, yes…but they will be for another time. I did some blogging about Venice at the time of the trip and that is enough for now.

Here is a short version of Assisi…

From the car park we passed by the rear side of the Romanesque Assisi Cathedral. Started in 1140 and finished in 1253 its entrances are guarded by lions and griffins, some held together by metal splints…

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Making our way downward to the Piazza del Comune and its fountain graced by lions from the 16th century…

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The Torre del Popolo (People’s Tower) from 1305 next to the Temple of Minerva…


The Temple of Minerva is an ancient Roman building from the 1st Century BC. It currently houses the Church Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. The facade is the ancient Roman building and the interior was renovated in baroque style in the 17th century.

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The stroll through a commercial area…

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To the Basilica di Santa Chiara begun in 1257. This building really fascinated me because its buttresses seemed so modern in their shape, but they are really old.

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The view over the side on this level…

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Then past the Chiesa Nuova from 1615. Built in the Rennaisance style on the site of the presumed birthplace of St. Francis…

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Continuing down the elevation with our stroll…

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I love this…ruins with a tree growing out of the top…what bird dropped that seed?


At last, the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi completed in 1253…



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Then, back up the hill to find our car…

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This was a day of many Fiats…

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That was the trip. Now that it is wrapped up I can go on to the next one. Have emptied all the camera rolls so I won’t run out of space. Have purchased new music for soundtracks from Vimeo so I don’t bore you to tears with my Videos. The laundry is done so the suitcases can be packed. It is almost lift-off…






Urban nature…

Oakland, California…

We went on the first field trip for TM’s birding class Saturday morning. Two places close to home but we had never been to either one.

In the heart of Oakland is the Lake Merritt wildlife preserve which we visited first and then we walked through the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in the industrial part of the city.

Lake Merritt

The Lake Merritt tidal lagoon was the first official wildlife refuge in the United States designated in 1870. This great building sits by its side. (The Bellevue-Staten Building from 1929. Designed by Herman Bauman.) A lovely grey day, teaming with birds willing to pause long enough in their routines for an iPhone to capture them.


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Eddie Bartley, one of the teachers of the class and the leader of the field trip…


Black-crowned Night-heron with American Coots…


Greater Scaup…


A female and two male Canvasbacks with two American Coots…


Black-crowned Night-herons…

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A Cormorant sits on the top branch of this tree…

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Snowy Egret (still can’t believe I got this picture)…


American White Pelicans…

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Greater Egret with a cormorant in the background…

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Middle Harbor Shoreline Park

After great success with birds a Lake Merritt we drove west through the industrial part of Oakland to the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. Great birding here, too, plus a view of the Bay Bridge from an angle I had never seen it from (the south side). It was a grey day but still a very nice park and on a clear day the view is probably magnificent of the bridge and the San Francisco skyline.


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Canada Geese…


Long-billed Curlew…


This mass of Western Sandpipers, Dunlins, and Least Sandpipers arose in a panic and agitatedly flew around because…


up on the crane tower to the far left, unseen by my human eyes and unseen by my iPhone, was a Peregrine Falcon. Luckily many of the other birders had powerful scopes that they shared. (Pretty sure that is going on someone’s Christmas list for next year!)


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A nice morning in two places that I am sure we will be returning to for viewing and on the way home we stopped for fish tacos. So many examples of those who like to eat fish…we just couldn’t help ourselves.

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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…