Saturday, April 25, 2015

Monastery Stones

Abbey of New Clairvaux Reconstructed Chapter House

As long as you're going to the Central Valley to see the wintering birds, you may as well keep on driving to the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina. There you can check out the reconstruction of the chapter house that William Randolf Hearst took away from the Santa María de Óliva Monastery in Spain. You may even taste the wine the monks produce.

The monks are of the Cistercian branch, which dates back to the 11th century. It was the Cistercians who originally built Santa María de Óliva, which still exists (mostly in ruins). It's about two hours away from Anchuela del Campo, a most lovely part of Spain.

It's an interesting story of how the chapter house (a chapter house essentially is a large meeting room) was purchased, dismantled and dragged over to San Francisco to molder away for years in Golden Gate Park. While in the park, the pile of stones was diminished not only by time, but also pilfered for other uses, such as: bumper stops for parking in the Park, retaining walls in the Strybing Arboretum (yes, I know it has a new name; I just don't agree), stepping stones at the Japanese Tea Garden and to decorate the Park and other less public garden spaces (ah, ahem) around the Bay. The stone pile also served as a site of worship for a while by Guru Baba Kali Das and his followers.

Ultimately, the monks were able to get their hands on the remaining stones and put them to good use. At this time, the medieval portions of the structure have been completed, but the purpose of the building has changed. No longer to serve as a meeting place, the chapter house will now form part of the new church for the Abbey. Donations gratefully accepted.

The reconstruction of the pointed arches for the chapter house was featured on Nova's Building the Great Cathedrals in 2011. When we visited, all was quiet and calm.

Except at the tasting room. It seems that it was pick-up day for wine club members, and local wine lovers were bustling through to gather up their boxes. We didn't walk away with a full box, but we did bring home something for later.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

New Neighbors? Probably Not for Now...

Bewick's Wren

The old chickadee, then titmouse, now vacant apartment had potential new tenants. Yes, the Bewick's wren was very busy on Friday, shoving sticks, twigs and grasses into the box, in hopes of enticing over his best girl. Or probably any girl, for that matter.

Only problem, which is a really big problem, is that we have to take down the box in order to get a new roof on the garage (yup, the birdhouse is really an apartment over the garage. Just like in Sabrina.). And the roofing job is supposed to be soon, very soon. Like in two weeks.

Once there is a nest, the little bird family cannot be moved. Not only because it would be wrong, but it is also in complete violation of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Thankfully, the Bewick's wren is not endangered, but still, it is not good to mess with the nest.

So sadly, bright and early Saturday morning, we snuck out and detached the birdhouse from the garage. The box got a new home on the quiet (Princess-free) side of the house, still on its post 10 feet in the air.

Mr. Wren has not yet resumed work in the new location, but I've heard him over there, scoping it out. Think of it, though - same great space with a fabulous new view. We all hope he likes it. And that she does, too.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cat? What Cat? I Don't See Any Cat... #5

Loot from Annie's Annuals

Mom's come for a visit, which means two things:

We absolutely have to go out to Annie's Annuals at least one time to stock up on vegetative necessities. And,

Princess is too shy to hang out with strangers. (The entire human world is comprised of "strangers", with the exception of two people. And one of them she isn't so sure about, either. We take turns being that one.)

But she gets lonely and is always lurking nearby, ready to move in for some lovey-dovey, should that evil stranger appear out of range.

Princess' Shadow