A blast from the past (ok, 2019) when we visited Petaluma. It had just rained, and we spent some time walking around the downtown area near where we were staying. Petaluma is such a great town!
“Sea change is an English idiomatic expression which denotes a substantial change in perspective, especially one which affects a group or society at large, on a particular issue.”– Wikipedia
When we were in Newport Beach at the end of February, we were already aware of the likelihood of the pandemic- and I look back at my photos and can’t help but see that awareness in the photos I took. Revisiting those photos, the phrase, SEA CHANGE, entered my mind. The world transformed so much in the weeks following our visit- as if undergoing a “sea change.” I used this photo sequence of a wave cresting and crashing for our final assignment (a triptych) in my photo group.
It was over a year ago that we stayed on the lavender farm, but I still remember the feeling of getting up before anyone else and walking around just after sunrise. I came upon this quiet scene, and something about the textures on the door, the bench, the basket, and the cat bowls (!) appealed to me. It’s a simple photo, but it takes me back to that peaceful walk at dawn.
The first time I heard of my second great grandfather, Thomas Mowatt, was when I was going through my father’s personal files about 1992, ten years after his death. I had started researching our family, and was following the advice to start with what you know. As far as I knew, my father had no interest in genealogy or family history, but evidently his family DID and had sent him some letters, photos, and documents over the years. He never shared any of this with me when I was growing up, but somehow had the foresight to not throw away the few things that he had that were relevant to his family history.
Thomas Mowatt was my father’s great-grandfather and had died about ten years before my father was born. I was raised knowing I was Scottish on both sides of my family and had proudly worn a wool jumper sewn by my mother out of the Mowatt tartan when I was in fifth grade- but that’s all I knew about the Mowatts. So when I looked through my father’s files and found a typewritten document about this unknown ancestor, Thomas Mowatt, I was curious.
The document reads:
This certifies that Thomas Mowatt, a native of this neighborhood, of credible parentage, leaves this country for N. Brunswick, wishing to better his situation in that land. He is a member in full communion with this Presbyterian Congregation and has always acted as becometh the Christian.
He is of a mild inoffensive disposition, exceedingly peaceable, quiet and retiring, very highly esteemed as a servant, well acquainted with husbandry in all its modern improvements. He has had for several years the oversight of a corn mill, and is very capable of managing such a concern, so he is likely to prove an acquisition to any gentleman improving his estate.
He leaves us in comfortable circumstances, with his brother, James. But if a mysterious Providence should visit them with shipwreck or disaster, the British agent or Consul must afford them protection, and the humane may rest assured that they lend aid to the deserving.
Given in the name of the members, Trustees and Elders of this congregation, Thomas Hall, minister
Crookham, County of Northumberland May 21, 1837
It had been transcribed from the original by a grandson of Thomas Mowatt.
Flash forward a few years to 1996, and my husband, son, and I were driving through Northumberland, England to Ford, the birth place of Thomas and which he had left with his wife and brother James and friends and neighbors on the Cornelius, headed for New Brunswick, Canada. Ford is a small village, but has a castle, a church, some homes- and a mill!
It turned out that the mill, restored and fully operational, is the same one where my ancestor worked- and that there has been a mill on this site since the 1300’s! There was a tour going on, and when we were approached by the person in charge, I showed him the transcribed document. He was thrilled- and introduced us all around as the Canadians who were descended from the local Mowatt family! Our status increased immensely!
I was not a photographer back then, but of course took many photos, and this one of the mill is a favorite. I had scanned the photo with a little portable scanner a few years ago so decided to make a little art piece with it for my photo class this week. I think my father would have been pleased- more with the photography than the genealogy!
I’ve been revisiting and editing older photos since we started staying at home during the “new normal”. I’m getting the itch to go out and shoot some new photos, but realize that for now any new photos will likely be limited to flowers, still life and maybe a hummingbird if I’m lucky.
I was so happy to find this image from last years stay at the lavender farm in New Mexico. I have a great love for photographing barns and silos and don’t get the opportunity too often. So actually staying on a lavender farm and having the time to wander around with my camera was heaven!
Spotted along the walk to the beach in Newport Beach.
One of the highlights of our last trip to California was touring the Queen Mary, which is permanently docked in Long Beach. The lines and angles of this view caught my eye as we walked prepared to go aboard. What a beautiful reminder of a bygone era, before cruise ships became associated in our minds with viruses and quarantine.
I took the photo below last summer at the beautiful Anchorage Museum- I just loved the graphic elements on the wall and the line of bean bag chairs, with the pattern broken by my grandson Miles. I brought it to my photo class yesterday for our assignment on Patterns.
We drove to Southern California to visit with our son and his family, and spent the first night at Newport Beach as we often do. During our morning walk, I became fascinated with the strong vertical lines of Newport Pier reflected in the water- and I took dozens of shots. This is likely the first of many photos I will post featuring these reflections- you have been warned! 🙂
Tuesday was Lonnie’s birthday, a great excuse to spend the night in Sedona- and our hotel was right across from this gorgeous view! Although we head to Sedona four or five times a year, the red rocks take my breath away every time!
I loved the seemingly heart-shaped hole in the rocks that we were heading toward as we walked on the Mobius Arch trail in the Alabama Hills last fall.
Walking around in the Alabama Hills was fascinating not only for the memories of cowboy movies shot in these locations- but for the frequent views of Mt. Whitney just above the rock formations. This is a place I would like to visit again.
Sand and scrub
Below is a detail shot from Zabriskie Point in Death Valley. I fell in love with the rippled landscape.