Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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Basics…

Yesterday I was motivated to work on mixing my own watercolors. The stars were aligned and I finally had all the supplies I needed. What had delayed me was not having watercolor half-pans to store the finished mixes in, but the last time I ordered a book from Amazon I remembered to order the little, white pans.

On our travels I had collected dry pigments as souvenirs. The first time was when we visited Roussillon in Provence back in 2013. (This may have been what spurred me on, also: we are taking an OLLI class through CAL—six weeks of talking and reading about Provence. It is bringing back lots and lots of memories.) In the Fall of 2015 when we were in Venice I visited a store that, among other things, carried pigments.

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Roussillon

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The red cliffs around Roussillon

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Venice

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My paint! The larger bottles are the pigment from Venice. (No, I did not have to carry those jars in my suitcase. They came in plastics bags and I put them in the jars from The Container Store after I got home.) The small vials are from Roussillon. The pigments are mixed with gum arabic and a bit of honey on a sheet of glass. Always wear a mask because the pigment in powder form is bad for your lungs. My only trouble now is I have already used up all the available half-pans so have to get more. Did not even get to experiment with my yellows and reds, yet…


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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!


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The last day…a goodbye to Provence…

On our trips we have usually spent the last day before leaving our apartments organizing ourselves, packing (stuffing) our suitcases, and mentally preparing for our early morning departure the next day. This time, however, we decided to “go for the gold” and catch one last missed site before we took off. Except for seeing it from the airplane as we flew into France, we had not seen the Pont du Gard, but our lovely landlady had mentioned earlier in our stay that it was best in early morning or twilight because of the light. We knew that we would never make it in the early light but twilight was a definite maybe if we combined it with other sites. In the morning of the last day we packed suitcases and organized for departure and then set off…whipering goodbye to our locality. First I buried my shoes in the trash near Le Beaucet, then we picked up some candy nougat souvenir gifts in Saint Didier and went on to Isle-sur-la-Sorgue for one last lunch. We had serendipitously discovered The Table on our very first day in Provence and had returned many times when we were near the town for more meals. We had our “goodbye” meal and then jumped in the car for the hour and  half drive to Uzés, a medieval town with garden. Cars are confined to an exterior road so walking and exploring was quite pleasant. There we ate a light dinner in the plaza and then made the ten minute trip to Pont du Gard. We had excellent timing for the light, only had to pay half price for parking because of the time of day, and we were almost the only tourists around. This is all captured here in my last movie for this trip. I fear I added a few too many pictures of the aqueduct but that is symbolic of how awe-stricken I was by its magnificence. Despite its incredible size and domination of its valley, you cannot see it from the road and only when you get quite close do you catch a view. Wham…visual awe. (The Romans left the rocks protruding out of the pillars because that is how the scaffolding was attached and they anticipated in the future after building it in 19 BC they might have to do maintenance. Ahh, the greatness that was Rome!)

By making it to the Pont du Gard, it meant that on our trip we had been able to see all four of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Provence. The Amphitheater and arch in Orange, the Popes Palace and bridge in Avignon, the Theater and St. Trophime Church in Arles and the aqueduct. Only thing we missed because the weather was out of our control was the lavender bloom…meaning we will just have to go back someday.

The last day in three minutes:

(don’t forget to make it full-screen so that you can see the birds fly)


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Pernes-les-Fontaines…

It is getting close to the time of our next trip. I need to eliminate photos from the iPhone and iPad so I can fit in the new thousands of images so I realized that I had never wrapped up the Provence trip. There was a lovely town close by to where we stayed called Pernes-les-Fontaines. Forty fountains (but I did not take pictures of all of them) and possibly the best shutter colors in all of Provence. Most magnificently, the loveliest iron work on top of the church steeple.

IMG_2006The cat keeps chasing that mouse, forever…

A stroll through the town…

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Some of the fountains…

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Your choice of stucco for your walls…

IMG_2110Also, a bride…

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Her name is Amelie…we know because we checked…

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and we walked…

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I particularly loved the cafe umbrella that was adorned with scraps…think I will do that at home…

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There was a castle…

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and the Tourist Info center had art in its garden…

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We were not successful in getting wifi in their wifi cafe, but we met the dog on the bar stool…how cute is that?

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Got back home to another great sky…

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Cheese…

My favorite images from my trip to Provence included the Cheesemen I saw in the markets of Aix-en-Provence and Pernes-les-Fontaines.

Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence

Pernes-les-Fontaines

Pernes-les-Fontaines

Passionate for goat cheese (especially when drizzled with lavender honey or decorated with thyme flowers)

cheesefrom aix goatcheese

When my friend Lisa (who was looking forward to her own trip to Paris) said, “Why don’t we take a cheese class?” I jumped-like-a-goat at the thought and even roped Terry into going, too. Since it coincided with our 39th anniversary it turned into a mini-celebration of sorts in honor of goats, longevity, and friendship! Some people have time-shares in vacation properties and then there are those who have goat-shares for the milk (investigating now).

We made feta, chevre, farmhouse cream cheese and fromage blanc.

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cheesepan

Cheesemakers

Lisa’s photo of her fellow cheesemakers

It was a lovely day in San Francisco…

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Trader Joe’s has goat milk but maybe TM will give me a real goat for our 40th!?

Next it will be olives…I can feel it…

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Probably need to get a hat to fit into the whole theme of markets and cheesemen and our new favorite CD is The Goat Rodeo Sessions…we blast it everywhere…love goats!

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Cassis…

We were lucky we planned our day trip to Cassis on a Monday. If it had been a weekend or more in the middle of summer it would not have been as bucolic. The town was in perfect form…not too crowded and beautiful weather. Two of these pictures I took with Hipstamatic, but the rest were with the native camera of my iPhone with no extra processing. Yes, the blue is the real blue. After a boat ride to see three Calanques (inlets) we repaired to lunch (from the sea) and a serenade. Cassis started as a fishing port known for its limestone quarries. The base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor came from here. Now it is a tourist area very popular with the French. I think if we ever go back there we will try to spend many days in Cassis. It was that lovely. We got some good glimpses of Cezanne’s mountain as we drove home past Aix-en-Provence. My movie shows our day. Make it full screen by tapping the arrows in the lower right hand corner.

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Pont Julien and Lourmarin…

Toward the end of our stay in Provence we visited Pont Julien a Roman bridge of great beauty, longevity, and no mortar. The niches you see are not for statues. When the water rises, they allow it to flow through. A testament to Roman building and engineering and why the bridge is still there for us to enjoy.
After visiting the bridge, we drove down a steep winding road to find Lourmarin. Coming toward us were about 300 Porches on a car club outing. They were having a great time flexing their muscles and power on the curves. We kept wondering about their risk taking with passing since they were coming right at us. We survived, luckily, so we could meet a cat that looked like Cliff…or at least a brother from another mother! Make the video full-screen by clicking the arrows in the lower right hand corner.