Mission San Miguel

Visting the Missions of California is one of my favorite day trips to take on the coast. We have several in our area, and we are lucky enough to live in a town with a Mission. The Mission San Miguel was founded in 1797. Father Junipero Serra was the first Spanish Franciscan Friar that founded the first 9 of the 21 Missions in California. His first Mission was in San Diego, and the furthest was in San Francisco. He walked to each of these Mission. It is known that he experienced a lot of pain due to his legs. As the number of Missions grew, it was a goal of the Monks to get the Mission within a days walk from each other. It was not uncommon back then for people to venture for 30 miles. Although, Father Junipero Serra was not the founder of Mission San Miguel, he is the one that started the adventure. 

Once inside Mission San Miguel, one can feel the presence of so much history. Fermin Francisco de Lausen was the founder of Mission San Miguel. It is named after Saint Michael. Saint Michael is an Archangel. He is often depicted with a blade in one hand, and scales in the other. It is believed that at the hour of death Saint Michael descends from heaven to allow the soul to defend itself for passage to heaven. It is also believed that he was the leader in the army in Heaven against Satin and the dragon. So, there are depictions of Saint Michael with his foot on the dragon. 

The day that Father Fermin he put up a cross on the property, and a bell. Those were usually the first items that marked the land as new Catholic territory. The first Mission was built in 1797, it was burned by 1806. Father Fermin spoke fluent Salinas language, and converted over a thousand Native people to Christianity. The Adobe bricks were made at a near by hot spring. The Mission was finished by 1821, and the frescos that still exist on the interior were painted by Estaban Munras. 

The property for Mission San Miguel was expansive. Eighteen miles to the north and south, so this puts the Mission territory well into Monterey County to the north, and well into Paso Robles to the south. Thirty five miles to the south, which puts the Mission territory at the Pacific Ocean. If I am not mistaken the area to the south would be near what is today San Simeon. Sixty six miles to the east, I am pretty sure is in Kern County today. The lands were used for vineyards, orchards, cattle, sheep, oats, corn, peas, barely, and many other crops. 

The Mission was closed after the earthquake in 2003, because of the damage to the roof. A very talented artists took the old tiles that had fallen off the roof, and painted on the tiles. The artistic tiles are now sold at the Mission. The Mission is also reopened it’s doors on the feast day of Saint Michael, September 29th 2009. It is also a State and National Historic Landmark. 

The history of the Mission is much more fascinating than the small blurb I have communicated. Image

Here are some really great links…







Happiness Project, Uncategorized

Netflix, What Is Your Indulgence?

Netflix lover? I must confess, I am a lover of Netflix. Every now and again I recharge my batteries by watching documentaries. Once I get on a binge I like to watch a whole season. One of my favorites is Borgia’s.

I have watched the Showtime version, and the European version. Although, there are some that can’t get past some of the flaws, I believe in allowing for dramatic license. In the case of the Borgia’s, on both fronts, it is pretty tame. Even though some would consider each of them soft porn. There is more sexually explicit scenes in the European version. I really like both, I am not sure I could choose one over the other. The Showtime version has a more polished looking cinematography. European version has more of a realistic view of what Rome was like back in the early renissance period. I also love that the Pagan worship is right there in the square.

The giant pine cone has been a part of Roman art since the time of Agrippa. It is believed that the pine cone was a fountain in the baths of Agrippa. It was preserved because the Roman people held high esteem for their ancestors. Some aspects of old Roman were recycled, like the marble on the colosseum. The pine cone was pretty impressive, and there were people that still had some connection to paganism. I greatly respect all religions, and pagans beliefs became a part of Christianity. It is only natural to absorb some of the rites and rituals into a new/different religion. Christianity was new to Italy, thus it adopted some pagan aspects. It only enriches the experience for me.

The Pigna (pine cone) was moved outside the courtyard of the old St Peters Basilica. This is the Saint Peters Basilica that is depicted on the European version. The pine cone was used as a fountain until it was moved to it’s location we see it today. These days the pine cone is flanked by two massive reproduction peacocks.

Like I said before it doesn’t bother me so much about aspects of the show being wrong. It is a show that gives a glimpse, and the glimpse that we get is pretty cleaned up for our perceptions of this era being so romanticized. When people say “These times are so terrible.” Those are the people that never studied history. Our time period is pretty tame. It did not matter who you were, you had to contemplate living through the day or if you were lucky living through the week. Women had to be manipulative, it was how they survived. I love the strong women characters of La Bella Farnese, and Contessa Vannoza Dei Cattanei

I have read many books about the Borgia family, and there seems to be no hard evidence of incest. All it took was a rumor to ruin a reputation. Much like any social media can do these days. Does it make the story more interesting to have Cesare and Lucredzia commit incest? My personal belief is that Lucredzia and her family were close. These are sometimes the only people that one could “love”. Marriages were contractual, and love had nothing to do with marriage. It was a business contract to bring the families together. Going home to visit a real family must have been such relief. It is hard enough for some people to leave their hometown these days. Could you imagine leaving your home as a teenager, being married to a complete stranger as a teenager, and living with your in-laws? UGH! I am not even adding the intrigue going on behind the scenes. More than likely the husband was abusive. It was legal, and pretty common.

So, if you are a little squeamish about death, sex, or brutality, maybe skip the european version of the Borgia’s. Both shows are really great, and give a different perspective about the family and the time.

Netflix, it is a great obsession! Watch responsibly (love the tag line for Netflix.)



San Francisco

One of my favorite cities is San Francisco. When I first moved to California it was the first place I lived. I loved living right beside Golden Gate Park, and being able to walk just about anywhere. I loved the huge shadows that fell across the streets, and wind that just about blow a person up those big hills. Every Sunday I walked up the hill to go to Mass at Saint Ignatius Church. Father Gagen (Father Charles), and I would love it when he was saying Mass. Many times I went the door closed behind me in a big thud, it seemed as though I came at the wrong time. No, it was early Mass, so only a few of the elderly were there with me. The pews were pretty filled in the later hours, as the young crowd woke and showered. Many came to Mass with wet hair. Honestly, although I always made my children dress “properly” for Mass. I believe with all my heart God doesn’t care. God, just wants us to be kind to one another. I don’t even believe that one has to be “religious”, just being kind and respectful to others is great.

Wow! I really got off track…I was really taken back to walking up that hill. Every Sunday, I would tell myself “Get out of bed and go to Mass. Remember there are people in this world that have been so devout that they walked on their knees to get to church. Be thankful for today, go to Mass, and just BE there.” I would get out of bed, shower, change into something I thought was appropriate, and get to Mass. I would love it, and was happy that I went that day, and every Sunday.

After Mass, I would go get Anima (my Maltese), and we would go to the park. Sometimes, I would take my skates with me. If I was taking my skates, I would head over to an area of the park where everyone was on roller-skates. We would also go for long walks or picnics. I would also go to the DeYoung, Asian, or Natural History Museum alone. I love being in a museum. They each had their own unique collections. I would spend the whole day just walking and looking. I would take notes about anything I needed to look up that caught my eye.

Here are some of my favorite photos I took while in San Francisco…

San Francisco contessa
San Francisco contessa


cable carcontessa
cable carcontessa

Summer Begins

Summer is much different than the rest of the year. When my children were young they went through every kind of camp available. Karate, Fencing, Cooking, Shop, Swimming, Ballet, Science, Arts and Crafts, Boating, Discovery…ugh. You name it my kids have done it. I wanted to give them a rich tapestry of excitement, and allow them to find what it is they loved to do on their own terms. I did not want to be the parent that made them play any sport they did not want to play. When they were really young I would go through all the schedules of camps I could find, and name off the classes they offered. I would allow each child to pick three of four camps, depending on how much time we were going to be in the area.

There would great camps, and classes the kids loved. There were ones that I would hope they would love, but did not. I made them go back every day even if they hated it the second day. I mean really, how can you hate camp the first day?

Now, my children are older. Since we have a farm they have to work around the farm before they can go have fun doing what they wish to do. I look back upon fond memories of the days of exploring something new. They were just as exciting for me, as they were for the kids. I had already experienced camp as a young person, and counselor. Now, I got to see it for the first time through the eyes of my own children. Oh, how I treasure the story telling time. Right after I would pick them up from camp they would have so many stories to tell me about their day. I loved that so much!!



Fountain of Youth, Happiness Project, Uncategorized

Hair Secrets

When I was younger, I was a Synchronized Swimmer. As a Synchronized Swimmer, you have to fix your hair so there is no movement as you are performing your routine. Knox Gelatin was our secret to getting our hair to stay in place. There were added benefits of using the product, our hair was silkie smooth and so luxuriously soft.

You will need two packages if your hair is longer than over your shoulders. One cup of hot water per package. Stir it until you feel it getting thick, and then pour it all over your hair. You will need a towel to wrap around you shoulders. I like to wet my hair, and put it up in a bun or a makeshift bun before I pour it over my hair. It seems to stick better to the hair when it is already wet. If you are doing this yourself, go slowly, so that none of the gelatine goes to waste.

I leave mine in for as long as possible. I would say the minimum would be about an hour. You will have to shampoo a couple of times to get all the gelatin out of your hair. Believe me, you are going to love it!


Fountain of Youth, Happiness Project

One Year

I have been a country lady for a year now. How does it stack up to living in the city? Oh my gosh, I wouldn’t change a thing. It has been hurried at times and crazy. I just love going outside when it is quiet, and being thankful for the life I have. In this year we have purchased lots of property. We are now owners of 500 acres. We live on our forty acre plot of land that we have named Terreni D Oro Estate Farm, since the big ranch is Terreni D’ Oro we had to branch off the name. The farm has grown we have 5 chicken coops, a pond with 12 ducks, and 2 geese. We also have three worm bins of red wigglers. Three bee hives, and about 75 trees in our orchard. We have some trees that have not been added to the orchard as of yet. We want those to get a little stronger before they go in the field.

Diversity in agriculture is what we are striving for at Terreni D Oro Estate Farm. Soon, we are going to grow a crop of chamomile, and we will also have plant one of the fields in Lavender. We want to add goats and sheep to the mix. First, we have to find the right breed for our farm. Farm harmony is very important to us. This is why we have the bees, and the worms. We want to make sure that our farming practices are more like the farmers of days past.

I am in awe of Cicero, Thomas Jefferson, and early monk farmers. Being a diversity instead of a mono farmer we are allowing more beneficial insects, wildlife, and humans to prosper. The bee’s must have food throughout the year for their happiness. As we continue to learn more about how the old ways of farming were more beneficial to the environment we also learn that there are many crops that fit different areas better than others.

Being a farmer is something I enjoy, but it is hard work. Farming takes a lot of money to get off the ground. We are taking baby steps, and work other jobs to make ends meet. From the early morning hours, until sundown we are busy. The weekends, we play even more catch-up. Going through the orchard to make sure the trees are doing well, and se what trees have fruit. It will be a while before we have honey, but we will more than likely add more hives.

This time last year we left our house in the city for a life on the farm.



Fountain of Youth, Happiness Project, Photography

Beauty of Bees

I check up on the bees every week. I have read that they will become used to your smell, and familiarize themselves with your odor. I have given them water, but now I am going to wait until next week to see how they are doing without my assistance for water. Since we do have a pond, and means for them to obtain water I am going to how they do in the next week. Yet another experiment. I have lots of mustard planted, and lots of flowers for them to forage for pollen. I may be able to add a super next week if all looks well inside the box.

Today, when I ventured out to the hives I did not wear my veil, and I walked all the way out there. If I am going to open the hive, I usually take my “bee tool box”, and my veil. It freaks me out just a little when so many are coming at my veil. The last time I had no stingers, so none of the girls lost their lives as they hit my veil.

The funniest part about opening the hive is once it is closed. There is usually one that just continuously hitting my veil over and over as I walk away from the hive. It is almost a gentle nudge for me to get away from the hive. This weekend I plan on planting more flowers for my little friends. I see that they have found a lot of flowers somewhere above our farm too.  They are pretty busy!


Fountain of Youth, Happiness Project


Since I was a little girl I have loved trying experiments, and seeing how things work. I was the kid that broke open the etch a sketch, and countless other toys. Unlike my husband, I could not put the toys back together. I did do a pretty decent job with cutting the lining out of my jewelry box to find out how the ballerina went in circles to the music.

I convinced my brother that stretch armstrong had to have surgery. When I started to experiment on my siblings toys they were not as forgiving. We did get to see the substance in stretch arm strong. However, he did not recover from the surgery.

One of my experiments was extremely stinky. I was the kid that hated to hunt Easter eggs. I did not understand the waste involved in the effort. Why do we color the eggs and hide them in the grass that has been utilized by animals as a giant litter box? No one wants to eat them. My rational was…why can’t we recycle them? The Native Americans used dead fish to nourish plants, why not use Easter eggs? Since my father and I put together a garden every year I buried all the Easter eggs in the back yard. When it came time to till the soil the whole back yard reeked! Oh, it was so bad! My dad asked “What is that smell?” Since I did not want to get into trouble I said “I don’t know.” We continued to work, and the smell was only getting worse. My dad uncover the cache of eggs. “What is this!” I had to confess…I told what I was wanting to do, but he made me clean up the mess. So, if you are ever thinking it would be a great idea…it is not.

I do have some experiments going on right now. Since we have red wigglier (compost worms). I wanted to find out the speed in which they work. I set up one bin with worms and regular house hold compost, one with used pine shavings from the chickens and ducks, one with no worms on top of a cardboard box, and one in a pile.

The worms in the regular house hold compost are doing the best. I am going to have to introduce the worms into the upper level of compost. The compost pile that was in the cardboard box has kept it’s moisture for four weeks. The one without the cardboard box on the ground has stated to break down into dust.

The worms do a beautiful job since they also are introducing their excrement into the mix, and it is black and rich. So, what is the moral to my story…it is always good to experiment. We never stop learning, especially if you are willing to try it. Just a warning, don’t experiment with the toys of others.

Happiness Project, Photography, San Luis Obispo Sites, Uncategorized

Hearst Castle

Going to Hearst Castle is always fun. There are several different tours to choose from, and they continue to add more. I haven’t been to Christmas at Hearst Castle, that is one that has to be planned in advance. We tried to go last year on the last day that they offer a tour for the Christmas season. Alas, every single tour was booked. Recently we bought tickets online, and then picked them up there. Unfortunately, Hearst Castle doesn’t have a “Will Call” line. It is a little frustrating waiting in line when our tickets have already been purchased. I promise the only disappointing aspect of Hearst Castle is waiting in line. It is all uphill from there. (Alright, that was bad.)

The wait really is worth it. The scenery is spectacular. The history is fascinating. One of my favorite facts is the architect Julia Morgan, was one of the first successful female architects in the United States. She endured the constant changes, and the challenges of working for W.R. Hearst.

The last time I visited Hearst Castle, the Neptune Pool was empty. Here are some photos from my last visit…

Hearst Castle 2014
Hearst Castle 2014

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