Monday, November 24, 2008

Life in LA LA land, my pictoral version of the trip

I arrived in LA in the early afternoon of Nov. 15 after flying in from St. Louis via Phoenix. Tired but happy and thrilled to see my friend Laura, I agreed to a little sight seeing before heading to her condo in Tarzana.

Venice Beach is a place I've heard of for years but never seen before. Wow!
All I can say is it exceeded my expectations! Below is a typical view of the street scene.

We happened onto an acrobatic troop getting ready to do their thing. We watched the program and it was worth taking the time. These guys are good! (Not to mention all the rippling muscles and washboard abs!)

The movie "Big" has long been one of my favorites, so I couldn't resist posing with a genuine "Zoltar" fortune telling machine!

We had a late lunch at a restaurant in Venice Beach, and then headed for home. And yes, I was as tired as I looked next to Zoltar.

The next morning we headed off to Laura's favorite Farmer's Market. Let me tell you, if I had access to this sort of place year around, I think I'd end up becoming a vegetarian! The fruits and veggies all looked so great I wanted to buy some of everything!

But I settled for some fresh raspberries and a bouquet of flowers, while Laura shopped for the rest of our fruits and veggies for the next few days.

Although the smoke and soot from the fires in the hills was a little aggrevating outdoors, we headed out for the Reagan Presidential Library in the Simi Valley. When they say watch out for rattlesnakes, they mean business!

The Simi Valley was a place beloved by President Reagan, and I can see why. The rolling hills, even in the brown shades of fall, are beautiful, if treacherous during fire season. This view looks out over the valley, and you can see not only a plume of smoke from a distant fire in the hills beyond, but a white cross on a nearer hill. The mountaintop crosses are a fairly common sight in Southern California.

This statue of the President is in front of the main entrance to the library. He is depicted in ranch dress, complete with cowboy hat in his hand, a natural look for this president, who was truly at home on his ranch and on a horse.

Another highlight at the library is Air Force One, the plane President Reagan used while in office. After the plane was retired from government service several years ago, it was brought to the library and retrofitted to appear inside as it did when President Reagan was in office, complete with multiple jars of Jelly Bellys. It was interesting to walk around inside the plane. A photographer was on hand to take the classic shots of everyone waving from the top of the airplane steps. Laura and I posed, and looked forward to adding that photo to our blogs. The photo was on a DVD with some other pictures and Air Force One info, and cost $22. I bought it, but when we got back to the condo we were very disappointed to find that the entire disk was locked and we were not able to download our photo to put it on the blog. So, future visitors to the Reagan Library, beware if you plan to get your doorway photo of Air Force One on the DVD--it will be viewed on the DVD and the DVD only! (We could have paid for a photo on paper as well, but we didn't realize we couldn't download the photo from the disk.) Caveat Emptor!

The pictures below are from the Getty Villa, which contains one of the two J. Paul Getty Museums in the Los Angeles Area. On my last trip to LA, Laura took us to the Getty Center Museum in Los Angeles. On this day our target was The Getty Villa in Malibu, home to an extensive collection of Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities. Mr. Getty had the museum built as a recreation of a first-century Roman country house, the Villa dei Papiri. The original Villa dei Papiri was located in Herculaneum and was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Much of that villa remains unexcavated; therefore, the Getty Villa incorporates additional elements drawn from other ancient Roman houses.

The Getty Villa's sixty-four acre site opened to the public in 1974, and underwent a major renovation in 1997. We encountered several groups of students of all ages, many with sketch pads and clipboards for note taking. The Getty Villa is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.

As we wandered through the display rooms, I saw many items that evoked memories of things I learned in high school Latin class and a class in ancient mythology I had in college. I've had the good fortune to visit Rome, and hope to visit Greece in the future to see more of these beautiful antiquities.

Another tourist asked us to take a photo of his companion and him, and he reciprocated with both our cameras. This is my dear friend Laura and me with the beautiful Getty Villa grounds in the background.

I made a pit stop just before we left and when I came back out front, there was my friend Laura looking pretty wiped out. We were both ready to call it a day and head back to Topenga Canyon for shopping (we're NEVER too tired to shop!) and then to the valley for dinner.

That was the last picture on my camera. You can see many more pictures of our California Adventure on Laura's blog. (She's a much better cameraperson than I!) Just go to and find the blog section. While you're on her site, check out the beautiful jewelry, handbags, and other items, and if you are so inclined, read about her fantastic weight loss story. She is my idol!!! (No, really, Laura, you are!)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween and Fall Colors

This is what the trick or treaters saw when they rang my doorbell last night! Pretty scarey, huh?
My little next door neighbor boy, age 6, did a classic double take that was hilarious! I could tell he knew it was me but he wasn't believing his eyes.

Madison approved of the costume and of the trick or treaters . He wanted to go out and kiss all of them. Most were somewhat apprehensive, since he weighs 85 pounds, which is more than a lot of them weighed!

This picture was taken by my neighbor Kathryn at her house, where after the treat or treaters were done, she and I shared a veggie pizza and some wine and watched an old video called, "Quackster Fortune Has A Cousin In Brooklyn". I'd never seen it, but since it starred Gene Wilder, I figured it would be good and it was. Kathryn described it as "charming", and indeed, that is an excellent description.

Kathryn has a French bulldog, "The Empress Josephine" (Josie for short) who adores Madison and follows him around like a little sister. He tolerates her jumping all over him, and loves to go walking with her. and have her visit him or go visit her at her home across the street.
This is my big boy. He and I both need to eat less and exercise more.

This is her ladyship, The Empress Josephine, aka "Josie".
What a little cutie pie!

And this is Madison and Josie, aka Mr. Mutt and Miss Jeff, playing in my backyard earlier this fall. He's so gentle with her it's amazing. To hear them carry on, you'd think there was a major dogfight in progress, but it's all play, gumming and slobbering all over each other until both of them have wet faces and ears.

Today my friend L in southern California reminded me that not every place in the country enjoys the fall colors we have in the midwest. If it's a good year and we have plenty of rain in the spring and summer and then a cold snap in October, our trees turn gorgeous colors. I grew up with this, so I don't think of it as any big deal. I know people pay money to go to New England to see "the fall colors", but I have them right in my yard! This year we had a rainy spring and summer and a cool snap early in October, and this is the result:

This is the view out my front door. Most of these are maple trees, which turn various shades of yellow, red, gold and chartreuse. I read somewhere that trees don't really "change their colors" in the fall. The colors we see here are the true colors of the leaves. In spring and summer they are filled with cholorphyll for photosynthesis, giving them the characteristic green we generally associate with the leaves of most trees. In the fall when the chlorophyll goes wherever it goes (What am I, a plant biologist?), the leaves are left with their "true colors" showing. Hmmmmm. Reminds me of a song on one of Richard's videos.....

Anyway, here's another picture, this time facing north from my front doorway. These are maples too in the foreground with several types of evergreens in the background. There are lots of evergreen trees on my street, so even when the other trees have shed all their leaves, we continue to see a lot of green. Wonder why the evergreens don't lose their chlorophyll? If I get the energy, I'll look it up.
This is the view looking south from my front door. The small dark red tree is my little Japanese maple, which seems to be prospering. I have been feeding it plant food spikes in the spring and mulching it well in the fall, as you can see from the leaves raked up around the base of the tree.

The house next door to me with the pumpkins and the flag is where Hollis, my six year old neighbor lives. Hollis is the little boy who did the double take at my Halloween get up. His mother is home schooling him, his four year old brother, and later, I guess will include his 18 month old sister. The kids and their parents are good people and good neighbors.
You can see a couple of azalea bushes near the Japanese maple, and they also get a lot of mulch in the fall. Next to the foundation the leaves are protecting from frost ivy and violets and some kind of pretty purple spring/summer flower that I don't know the name of. There are also hosta further back toward the porch, and next spring I'm going to put in quite a few more hosta and some coleus. They both do well in shade, and my entire front yard and most of the back is in shade nearly all day in spring and summer. There's just a little spot of sunshine in the middle of the backyard where I put the tomato plants. BTW, I pulled the tomato plants out last week. There were only three or four green tomatos left on the vines, so I brought those in and put them in a paper bag in a cool dry place. They will ripen in a few weeks. If Buttercup was looking forward to the hanging tomato plants this fall, she will be disappointed--but she hasn't said one way or another.

Last but not least, the view to the north. You can see my garage, which is far too full of other things, primarily having to do with cats, to permit my car--my wonderful silver baby Prius--to live inside. (My Prius gets between 42-44 mpg in town and between 55-60 mpg on the highway--and I have just about sprained my arm this summer patting myself on the back for buying it two years ago.)
But as my friend L says, I digress.
My neighbor E to the north has a beautful dark red tree, but I have no idea what it is. It's not a Japanese maple, or any other tree I'm familiar with. If she were home, I'd ask her, but she's out galavanting around. She's on the go a lot. She and I belong to the same Red Hat group. Another friend invited me, and E and I were surprised to see one another at the meeting when I showed up for the first time. (One of these days I'll take my camera to a Red Hat function and prove to you that us older gals know how to have a good time!)
The street in front of my house is asphalt, and there are sidewalks on both sides all up and down the street. It's only four blocks long, and I'm smack in the middle, two blocks from one of our one way"main drags" in one direction and two blocks from an L "almost" dead end in the other. The L turns onto another asphalt residential street that eventually comes out onto another major street. Since we are nearly a cul de sac, our traffic is light, it's quiet, and we pretty much know our neighbors. It's a very eclectic street, as my friend Kathryn pointed out to me one day recently. On this little four-block street we have a Hispanic widow, two black families, a deaf man, a Chinese man, a home for the developmentally disabled, a church, and multiple families with small children as well as many retirees. I love this neighborhood and thank the day I decided to buy this house.