Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…

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From August to December, Terry takes a vacation day each week to volunteer with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory. They band and record raptors flying through the Marin Headlands for scientific information about migration patterns. Even though I could join him now that I am retired-mmm, raptor talons, not so much for me. In the off-season, though, I am always up for a quick trip to Marin, because of the collateral benefits. Saturday was over the Richmond Bridge, south toward the Golden Gate, but stopping before the actual committment to go to SF. A pause for the 5 minute one-lane tunnel

Inside the 5-minute tunnel

Here is an even more altered version, because I kind of liked that photo:

Extremely altered tunnel

There was a reason they used to say “Go west, young man.” As a California native, every time I get as west as I can get, there is a pluck on my heart. At one point I fell in love with Santa Fe and thought it would be a wonderful place to retire to, but when I thought about it further, I realized my brain would have a chemical reaction to not knowing the ocean was so close.

Where the road ends and the sea begins

The mission was to clean equipment up at the Townsley bunker. (Actually, that was Terry’s mission, mine was to take photos…) I jumped out of the car to open the locked gate and got this picture of some Blue-eyed grass near the gate post. It is actually not a grass, but a member of the iris family.

Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum)

Up to the bunker:


Aged bunker door

With views of the sea on a beautiful, clear blue day to refresh your psyche:

Down the hill to the headquarters building to wash dishes (I actually helped with that), and then onward to the next part of the circle. On the road back out, I took this picture of a Great Blue Heron with my Canon instead of with the iphone:

Great Blue Heron

Onward to the collateral benefits. I am more than willing to wash equipment in exchange for a quick run into the store at the Heath tile factory. Sausalito is inches away from that five-minute tunnel we started out the adventure with.

Heath factory store window

Please note the poster that trumpets committment to quality handcrafted goods. Heaven.

New spring glazes

For the first time I physically restrained myself from venturing into the overstock room for mosaic supplies. (Lots of boxes at home to use up if I am honest with myself!) However, got a really good deal on this sweet milk pitcher. Chez Panisse pattern, second’s price with an in-store additional 20% off. Nice with roses from the farmer’s market. Score!

Then for lunch, a bowl of clam chowder at Fish restaurant just across the street. This was the view from their deck:


On the last part of the circle now. Back over the bridge through Richmond to Annie’s Annuals for a touch of color.

Annie's Annuals

Down San Pablo Dam Road with a few raptors cruising overhead and then home, all before 1:00. We are very efficient! We had the afternoon to plant what we got from Annie’s.

This is how I use Heath overstock tile in my garden:

garden ornament


Odds and ends from this week…

About the time we started working on our garden four years ago, a terrific book was published called California Native Plants for the Garden, by Bornstein, Fross, and O’Brien. The best section for novices such as ourselves, was the one called “Recommended Plant Selection.” Here, the authors list categories of plants (trees, shrubs, perennials,grasses, etc.) according to categories (allergenic plants, bank cover, fall foliage, hummingbirds, meadows, etc. ) We had a corner next to our gate that was needing something to climb on it. The trouble was that we have deer on the perimeter of our garden so any part of the plant growing on the exterior of the gate would be vulnerable to being someone’s lunch. Because of the way the book is organized, we were easily able to determine that our only choices were clematis and Dutchman’s pipe. After a couple years of casually looking, last year we found the Dutchman’s pipe at California Flora Nursery near Santa Rosa. I kept checking it since we planted it, because, wouldn’t you know, it has a unique Swallowtail butterfly that only lays its eggs on the underside of its leaves so I had to check under the leaves each time I went out the door. The leaves have come back strong this spring, and I noticed this week that we have flowers. Pipes on the pipe vine!. This is Terry’s picture.

California Dutchman's Pipe, Aristolochia californica

No eggs, larvae, or butterflies, but April is still in front of us and if this is the year for flowers, maybe it is also the year for those. By chance, the Chronicle had this article about pipe vines this morning. Here is the link.

Plus here is the male kestrel Terry released this morning after his recovery from an injury. (It had a fractured keel bone.) It is difficult getting pictures in the aviary, but maybe you can compare the markings enough to see the difference from the female he had a few weeks ago. Godspeed little guy…

Male Kestrel

Male Kestrel

Female Kestrel


Wherefore art thou, Clyde?

Here I am:

This female kestrel has been in Terry’s aviary for a few weeks for a little R and R after being rescued from being wedged inside a chimney. She had not broken any bones, but needed some weight and rest. She was cleared for release and preparations were made. She had been found in Clyde, California, and needed to be returned to the same area. Now, I have lived in this area more than twenty-two years, but have never heard of Clyde. Turns out it is out near the Navel Weapons Base in Concord and had less that 700 people at the last census. But the interesting thing is (perk-up, Lois), it was built as a company town and designed in 1917 by Bernard Maybeck. If you are at all interested in architecture and live near San Francisco and Berkeley, you know Bernard Maybeck’s work. From the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco to churches and residences in Berkeley, plus buildings on the CAL campus, Maybeck influenced the Arts and Crafts architectural history of California. It seemed like an excellent idea for me to go on the “release of the bird” trip and see if there was anything remaining of the Maybeck town.

The short answer is not much, no hotel, but still a central core of houses that look liked they had been around awhile.

This is the house showing the chimney where the kestrel was found:

Unfortunately, it looks like the chimney might come down if there was a good earthquake jolt. Quite a bend there. Some of the other houses looked like they came from the time:

Nice roof line with more modern additions like metal windows. That first floor front area might have been filled in at some point after it was built. But this one looks almost original:

And a community center:

The bus stops were quite nice-but on to the matter at hand.

A nice cut in the road offered access to nearby trees so the kestrel carrier was removed from the car and the bird readied for the big moment. (Please bear in mind that I do not have a large enough camera with long enough lense to capture flying birds, so what ever pictures I take are when they are confined in the aviary or being held and even then they are moving so fast that my focus mostly can’t keep up with them). Some shots:

After one last shriek, she was gone. She was known as fiesty by the staff of the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital) and we came home with a little tug in our hearts because a release and a chance for survival always rededicates us to the effort. Now we know where Clyde is.