RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


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Memories of 2019

JANUARY

I picked two photos from each month of 2019 to represent my year in photography. Just like last year, some months I had too many choices and some months it was hard pickings.  So these aren’t necessarily my very best photos but I tried to show a variety of different places.

The photo above is reflections in a puddle at Culver City Park at the end of my street. We had a lot of rain last winter after a seven-year drought.


Red hot poker plants at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. Some friends bestowed upon me a gift membership for which I am very grateful… and I am able to take a friend with me which makes it a doubly wonderful gift!

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FEBRUARY

I was clearing junk out of the garage in February as I was planning to move. That didn’t happen but it allowed me to get rid of a lot of stuff. I took a photo of this painting with my point & shoot before I drove it over to Goodwill. I must have painted this in the 1970s! I hope somebody bought it and is enjoying it. I may print it out and hang it on a wall to give it a new life.

A random photo of the boys. Frankie The Monster, who of course bagged the most comfy spot. And Freddie The Giant Cat who is so laid back and always lets Frankie get what he wants.

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MARCH

The Broad is a contemporary art museum in downtown LA. This was a booth by Yayoi Kusama constructed of mirrors. My selfie is on the right. My friend BG was standing at the other side of the booth so you can see her face in some of the other circles.

I’m not usually good at doing things on the spur of the moment but my friend LA decided she wanted to see the wildflowers. So as long as she was driving I said okay. Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore is about 85 miles from Culver City. We went on a Wednesday and made pretty good time. It was a fabulous day. On the way home we came as close as I have ever come to being killed in an accident. In my mind I was already dead. Make the most of every day because you never know when it will be your last. It just wasn’t our time.

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APRIL

Next door to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) is La Brea Tar Pits with ongoing excavations. The site goes back to the Pleistocene Age. The extinct animals discovered at La Brea Tar Pits were trapped in the asphalt between 11,000 to 50,000 years ago. Outsiders always accuse Los Angeles of having no history… excuse me, we go back a lot further than most places in the US!

I don’t think this is quite what they had in mind when they named the Palms neighborhood of Los Angeles, adjacent to Culver City. But I always enjoy looking at this utility box on my walk to Sprouts Market on the LA side of Venice Blvd.

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MAY

I made several trips to Echo Park Lake this year. Paddling around on these swan Paddle Wheelers is now one of my favorite things to do in LA. It’s relaxing and good exercise at the same time with splendid views of the downtown skyline. I hope can cajole more friends into going with me in 2020. Wanna come along?

I’ve been wanting to visit the South Coast Botanical Gardens for many years. Finally made it in May. It was really delightful. We only saw a small area as my companion wasn’t able to walk far. But I’ll definitely be back to see the rest of it.

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JUNE

My friend SB and I were waiting at the harbor to take the boat back from Santa Catalina to San Pedro. This couple walked by. I loved the way they looked so I asked if it was okay to take their photo. She had made their matching outfits with fabric she had bought at Downtown Disney in Anaheim. She said she often made them matching outfits. How adorable is that?

I am a member of the Natural History Museum and it’s a short train ride from Culver City so I often pop in there, often on my own if nobody else is available or interested. This lovely guy was on display in the special exhibit on Antarctic Dinosaurs, the 25-foot-long, “cold-crested killer,” Cryolophosaurus. The exhibit featured an ongoing scientific expedition from the NHM and Chicago’s Field Museum as they dig for fossils today. La Brea Tar Pits is also part of the NHM.

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JULY

Rode the Amtrak train to Ventura with a group of friends. We hiked up the trails in the Ventura Botanical Gardens which is still recovering from the December 2017 Thomas Fire. Lovely views from the top. Ate lunch on the pier at Beach House Fish then walked along the pier watching people fishing.

BG and I made an overnight trip to Santa Barbara. Stayed at an historic estate, drove around the area, ate dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant, Due Lune Cucina, across from the beach as the sun was setting. Next day ate lunch on the pier before heading home. Wonderful experience.

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AUGUST

Mount Rushmore has been on my bucket list ever since I saw the movie North by Northwest with Cary Grant and the marvelous James Mason. So now I can say been there, done that! It was a trip to look up and see those monumental faces… it’s impossible to imagine how that can be achieved. As you are chiseling away you would only be able to see a miniscule part of what you are working on. Amazing.

We arrived at Old Faithful in Yellowstone in the evening. The glow of the setting sun was a magnificent backdrop to the geyser. This was my second visit to the park. This time we had the privilege of staying inside the park at the Old Faithful Inn. You just walk out the front door and there is Old Faithful right in front of you. Magnificent.

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SEPTEMBER

Second Home Pavilion was a temporary exhibit which I visited on one of the hottest days of the year at Hancock Park between LACMA and La Brea Tar Pits. I asked the young lady sitting at the entrance how she was doing and she indicated not too well. I enjoyed walking through the colorful maze of tunnels.

BG and I hung out at LACMA visiting several galleries. At Mary Corse: A Survey in Light we had a little fun as we became the artwork.

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OCTOBER

The celebration of El Dia de los Muertos is one of my favorite times to visit Grand Park. This year there were about 40 altars all personally and culturally relevant to Los Angeles honoring those who have passed over. It coincides with halloween and is a traditional Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage elsewhere. The multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and helping support their spiritual journey. In Mexican culture, death is viewed as a natural part of the human cycle. Mexicans view it not as a day of sadness but as a day of celebration because their loved ones awake and celebrate with them.

 

Several friends met at the Sunset/Vermont Red Line station and rode the shuttle up to the Griffith Observatory. Half the group attempted the hike to Inspiration Point but it was too hot for me so I sat and chatted with the other half at the cafe and enjoyed the views. The hikers only made it half way before being forced to turn back. So I was glad I didn’t attempt it. I’ve suffered from heat stroke before and have to be careful.

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NOVEMBER

GM, EA and I made reservations for an early lunch at Perch on the 15th floor of the Pershing Square Building. I had eaten there previously and talked so much about it they wanted to experience it too and weren’t disappointed. Perch LA is a French-inspired rooftop bistro with unobstructed views of Downtown Los Angeles for guests to experience the feeling of floating along the skyline. The elevated spaces offer outdoor fireplaces, rooftop fire pits, indoor and outdoor dining experiences, and lounge seating to experience the city skyline views. The food isn’t bad either! This is just one of the many views when you walk around the outside area.

Several members of the Culver City Art Group met at the Getty Center to visit the exhibit Manet and Modern Beauty. You gotta love the staircase with the Manet image leading up to the exhibit. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the artist but I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of his paintings… many I was not previously familiar with.

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DECEMBER

A friend is a member at Descanso Gardens. She very graciously picked me up at Union Station and drove the rest of the way… I took the E (formerly known as the Expo) Line to the Red Line… one of these days, probably not in my lifetime, the E Line is supposed to go all the way to Union Station. The gardens were beautifully decorated for the holidays. Of course I imagine it is really spectacular all lit up at night but it was pretty good during the day too.

Last but certainly not least, I led my 3rd Annual Downtown Holiday Decorations Walk ending with lunch at the Biltmore Hotel (at left). There were 13 participants… all women this year… but not too surprising. This lovely Christmas tree was located at the southeast corner of Pershing Square. Lined up correctly the star appears between the US Bank Building (Library Tower) and the Deloitte Building (the Gas Company Building). I had to pay those pigeons to take flight just at the right moment!

Thanks for bearing with me. Some months there were a few more photos I really wanted to include… but I had to keep to two from each month and not cheat… you wouldn’t have known if they didn’t appear in the correct months but I would have known!

I wish you all a very healthy, happy and adventurous 2020!


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The UK – Worthing, Sussex – part one

Worthing, Sussex

I met my friend M the first evening in Worthing and we walked out on to the pier to see this spectacular sight.

So the burning question is, can you go back again?

I decided to answer that one way or the other.

Fishing area on the Worthing Pier.

Worthing, Sussex, on the south coast of England was the last place my parents and I lived before emigrating to the US the first time. At this point we had already lived in Brighton (Sussex) and Argentina and Hove (Sussex). So it was with relief that at the age of eight I thought we had settled into a good life in Worthing. But not to be!

At the age of twelve I was uprooted once again to move to Florida, USA. We arrived in New York on the Queen Elizabeth. And one day I should write a story about that!

We lived in Tampa and then Clearwater and then Tampa again. After that we moved to Houston and then back to Tampa, or was it Clearwater? I began to lose track after a while!

Looking east from the Worthing Pier. At first I was having trouble with east and west!

Worthing shuts down around 6:00pm. A few restaurants and pubs remain open but shops, forget it!

Then we moved to Los Angeles, California. That was quite a trek and some wild and strange experiences. I should write stories about that too!

We moved around to several neighborhoods which meant different school districts. My dad never seemed to take into account that moving me around from school to school to school to school to school to school would have any affect on my life…

This seagull was just about the only resident we encountered on the streets in the evening.

Then we moved back to England. First to Norwich in East Anglia, then to London.

I was expecting zombies to appear any minute on the empty streets.

Then back to Los Angeles where my parents finally settled. And I graduated from high school. At that point I counted I had been to fifteen schools! Very few people believe me when I say that most of my teenage years are a total fog!

For several years now I have thought about Worthing. What would my life had been like if we had stayed there, or at least in England? I fantasized I would I have attended the University of Sussex and attained a degree in art history. Or anthropology. Would I have lived the life I was supposed to live instead of never knowing who I was?

Who can say? Certainly not me. Maybe I would have been hit by a train and never made it to adulthood. I can never know what my other life would have been. But I am grateful for who I am now.

Stay tuned for the rest of my adventures in Worthing and Brighton!


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Feline Friday – #75 – calling all hummers

freddie

About four months ago I bought a hummingbird feeder.

We get so many hummers flitting through the Melaluca trees outside the front balcony looking for insects for their protein, I thought it would be nice to supply them with a little dessert for their hard work.

Of course, this has turned into cat TV. Here is Freddie patiently waiting for a hummingbird to stop by. I didn’t have the heart to tell him all the time he sat out there no hummers were about to take a chance on the feeder!

freddie

But after a while Freddie was getting very frustrated. So if the hummingbirds weren’t coming to him, he would go to the hummers! “Come on little feathered friends, where are you? Come on over!”

Sorry, Freddie, this is going from bad to worse!

Finally Freddie gave up and came inside to watch from the other side of the window where the hummingbirds aren’t afraid of him.


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…it’s all happening at the zoo….

los angeles zoo

This meerkat would not cooperate and turn around for his portrait. But he does have a pretty back side!

My friend KL recently became a member of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. When she mentioned it, I realized I have not visited the LA Zoo since the mid 1980s. As I was overdue for a visit we set a date to meet.

los angeles zoo

The first time I ever remember seeing a real live flamingo was when I lived in Florida as a teenager. I still have a hard time believing they are “real.”

I have mixed feelings about zoos in general. Animals being held captive, etc. (But they at least they don’t live the wretched lives of food animals.) Some species would become extinct if not for zoos and some can no longer live in the wild. So, I decided to put all that aside and enjoy the day.

los angeles zoo

This turtle seemed to be using his wings to fly through the water.

I tried to work out a way of getting to Griffith Park, where the zoo is located, by public transportation. But as the parking is “free” in an ample sized parking lot, I didn’t try very hard. Besides, Cinnamon Girl has to get out of the garage and go for a spin once in a while.

los angeles zoo

The detail on this Silverback Mountain Gorilla sculpture made it look almost lifelike.

Early on a Saturday morning, the 15-mile trip on surface streets took me about 45 minutes. I avoid taking the freeways whenever possible as I prefer to drive through neighborhoods rather than drive past them, seeing nothing but other cars speeding by at 70 mph.

los angeles zoo

I felt really sorry for this red tailed hawk. I often see these magnificent birds enjoying thermals way way up above my deck. I don’t know this guy’s story so maybe he was injured and can no longer fly (and that is why he is at the zoo) or he was born into captivity and doesn’t know any better.

Going home in the late afternoon the trip took me over two hours but I was in no hurry so I just went with the flow. I was amused to see some impatient drivers attempting to cut in and out of lanes but staying in one lane and waiting for traffic to move, I soon caught up with them.

los angeles zoo

I understand the LA Zoo is hoping for some baby zebras sooner than later. But this one just wanted to hang out.

Of course I took a billion photos but a lot of the exhibits are behind protective metal fences or glass so it was quite difficult to get a clear shot. And some inhabitants insisted on showing us their backsides or were hiding partially behind trees… okay, we get the message. So, sad to say, most of my photos are pretty much useless. I’m sure if I practiced taking photos under these conditions over a period of time I would figure out how to do it… but not on this day

los angeles zoo

I arrived at the zoo twenty minutes before opening time. I was surprised to see long lines of visitors ahead of me. I don’t know why I was surprised as anywhere you go in LA there are herds of people, especially at the weekends. My friend assured me that if I came back during the week it would be more comfortable people-wise.

los angeles zoo

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to see so many people, and families, enjoying outdoor activities. And learning about animals. Certainly beats sitting in front of the TV or game console. But in terms of trying to take the perfect photo, it is hard when there are so many heads and shoulders in the way. At least the animals seemed oblivious to all the attention for the most part.

los angeles zoo

However, this guy seemed to revel in the attention, gladly posing for his portrait. He looks suspiciously like the sculpture we saw earlier!

los angeles zoo

Pronghorn Antelope?

I am as good at identifying different species of animals as I am at identifying trees and plants… which is not at all. I believe this may be a pronghorn antelope… I know the zoo has a program for rearing pronghorns, but not sure if this is one of them… sorry for my ignorance.

los angeles zoo

Not totally stupid, I certainly know these guys and girls are kangaroos… er, I mean giraffes. They were craning their necks looking very intently at something going on behind the trees so they would not look our way. Pretty soon we saw what all the excitement was about. The keepers came out with some munchies in the way of branches and leaves. Yummy.

los angeles zoo

I so wanted to get some good photos of the lions. Welllll, didn’t quite happen. Very disappointing as this is a scene I see all the time at home… cats snoring.

los angeles zoo

Kikuyu Colobus Monkey

No napping for this playful fellow. He and his compadres were all having a great time swinging and swaying among the hammocks and tree branches provided.

los angeles zoo

Capra falconeri heptneri

I would not want to meet this handsome gentleman in a dark alley! But he did seem very proud of his family as he was strutting around. According to the LA Zoo website, those horns serve a purpose as the gnarliest male winds up with the affections of the appreciative females. To each their own.

los angeles zoo

A least this tiger was cooperating even if the lions weren’t. So I got my feline photo of the day after all. I’m not sure if he was catching flies or coughing up a furball. This posture reminds me of Frankie in the kitchen before breakfast reminding me that he hasn’t been fed yet. Domesticated cats have remained very close to their wild ancestors.

los angeles zoo

A very sweet scene. The photo was take through glass so I couldn’t get too much detail and the original image showed nothing but a black blob. The second tail belongs to the baby that she was grooming.

los angeles zoo

When we arrived at the elephant enclosure there seemed to be a lot of activity. On closer inspection we saw it was two keepers cleaning and preparing the area. No elephants in sight. It was rather humorous as instead of watching zoo specimens, people were lined up at the fence watching the humans go about their jobs… just another species of animal in their natural habitat as zoo keepers!

los angeles zoo

We waited half an hour for the pachyderms to come out but it was good to rest for a while. Seeing them up close it isn’t hard to understand that they are the world’s largest living land mammal.

In the top photo, the elephant is sticking his trunk through a hole in the wall to feed on chopped veggies, sight unseen. The tire next to him is filled with grass and buried carrots that he has to hunt for.

In the second photo you see an orange ball to the lower right. The elephant has to roll the ball around until the carrot treasures fall out of the small holes one by one. This way the animals have to work to find food instead of having it handed to them on a plate! Sounds like a good idea for the kids, no?

los angeles zoo

Hope I am not mis-identifying this cutie as a Tapir.

Last, but certainly not least, what I believe to be a Tapir had quite a large area to wander around in (given his small size) but he was certainly getting his exercise running around looking here, there and everywhere as if in search of something.

It would be nice to talk to the animals and find out how they feel about living in captivity. I’m sure some of them don’t mind as they are safe from predators and don’t have to worry about finding dinner. But I am sure they lose something too.

My apologies to all the other beautiful creatures who did not make it into this post for no rhyme or reason. But all in all it was a lovely day. And now I have been to the zoo after all these decades, I think I want to return on my own… and on a weekday… with the idea of spending the time to capture some better images rather than merely snapshots. Practice makes perfect indeed.

Sorry to be so predictable (well, not sorry really) but to put a song in your heart for the day here is Simon and Garfunkle singing “At the Zoo.”

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Peacocks prancing in the park

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

One of the reasons I love living in Los Angeles is access to all the parks and gardens. The Gold Line recently added six more stations, all the way to Azusa. One of those stations is Arcadia where the 127-acre Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is located. The free shuttle bus that stops at the mall, Santa Anita Race Track and The Arboretum now also stops at the train station.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Yesterday several explorer friends and I visited The Arboretum. Most of us met at Union Station in downtown LA for the trip on the Gold Line.

The Arboretum is known for its peacocks. They are VERY raucous and can be heard “meowing” throughout the park. The above photos are of the same peacock back and front. Both views are pretty impressive.  They are not shy about posing for the camera.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

The Arboretum is made up of small pocket gardens, sprawling lawns and water features. We decided to take the 2 1/2 hour docent-led tour

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

This wood creature was part of a temporary art exhibit but he looked very much at home.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

This is jacaranda season and the purple trees are showing off all over town.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

The garden, like everywhere else in Southern California, is suffering from the severe drought. But this “flowing” pond is made of stone and needs no water.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Can you find the hummer? Maybe not as impressive as the peacocks but certainly a sweetie.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

A giant lizard slithering across the path? No, just a peacock all folded up for travel.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Eucalyptus deglupta Mindanao gum showing off its rainbow bark.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

The pea hen is looking for lunch. The female has no need for extravagant opulence to attract a mate… there are plenty of males strutting around the premises.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

The Seed Saving Garden is dedicated to growing heirloom vegetables and herbs.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic GardenWe had several ideas about what these extraordinary giant flowers looked like, I thought of elephant ears.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Even the Arboretum is not free of exotic bugs!

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Effects of the drought on these trees.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

The once beautiful ponds are also ravaged by the drought.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

But this turtle family doesn’t seem to mind!

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

If you were a fan of the TV show Fantasy Island, you will recognize this Queen Anne cottage. It was where Tattoo rang the bell when visitors came to the island.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

There’s a lot more to the park but we were pretty tired and hungry after the tour so it was time to head out to lunch. We took the shuttle to the California Pizza Kitchen close by. I always order the Moroccan Spicy Chicken Salad at this restaurant chain… but I decided to be a little daring and ordered the Roasted Veggie Salad instead. That is now my new favorite.

Click on an image below to start the slide show.

The Arboretum even has its own song!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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My private island – part one

catalina island

Catalina Express offers a birthday promotion of a free ride to Catalina Island as long as you travel there on the day of your birthday. You can stay for as long as 30 days.

Since visiting the island with friends last September (see post here) I have thought about taking advantage of this offer. So I made the decision, booked a hotel room and requested my free ticket.

Rather than pay the $34 parking fee for two days, I decided to make the trip to San Pedro by public transportation (Expo Line to Silver Line). There are some things I learned the hard way but I made it just in time to run on to the boat… fortunately on an off-season Monday morning the boat was less than full! Next time, hopefully, I will know not to get on the wrong bus!

As it was my birthday I figured I would treat myself to fish ‘n chips. Many years ago I remember ordering this dish at the same restaurant on the pier and was very happy.

catalina islandcatalina island

Well, nothing remains the same. I was not expecting fish rolls and shoe string potatoes… not quite my idea of fish ‘n chips!

But I couldn’t complain about the view (see photo at top of page). Although the island was experiencing typical “May Grey” (or May Gray, depending on what dictionary you use) I was feeling the magic of Catalina nonetheless, and sucking in the fresh sea air.

catalina island

This fellow came over to say hello. Or so I thought… Suddenly there was a flurry of wings and next thing I knew one of the fish rolls, the container of tartar sauce and several of the shoestring potatoes disappeared as I was looking at the backside of the gull flying off. I should have known better!

I really didn’t mind that I lost half my lunch but I did feel bad for the seagull. With that kind of diet on a regular basis he would not be looking forward to a long, healthy life.

catalina island

Compared to my photos from the last trip, these look pretty murky. But, nothing I could do about the weather. I’ve been to Catalina in every season and never before seen it without the sun.

catalina island

Because it was off-season (I believe the season begins next month in June) I was able to book a nice room for a great price at the Hotel St. Lauren. If you look at the top floor you will see a deck that is for the use of all guests with a view in all directions. I would have no problem staying there again.

catalina island

Out in the bay you can see the cruise ship Carnival Imagination. Too bad the passengers had to experience Catalina on such a dismal day.

I walked around with my little point & shoot camera snapping a few photos here and there. Even without the sun, I always feel like this is my special, private island and I was more than happy to be there.

Click on an image below to start the slideshow:

Part Two coming up when I have had a chance to look at the photos from my other camera.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 


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December on the Venice Canals – part two

venice canals

The second half of my walk through the Venice Canals. Most tourists coming to Venice never see the canals. And truthfully, they are more interested in seeing Venice Beach that they have heard so much about.

Venice Canals

The two areas could not be more different although they were once both part of Abbot Kinney’s idea to emulate Venice, Italy on the shores of Los Angeles in the early 1900s. I’ll write more about the history in another post.

Whereas the canals are very serene and peaceful, the Venice Beach boardwalk is like a circus. I’ll have photos of that area in another post.

Venice Canals

For walking I really prefer the quietude of the canals.

Venice Canals

And stopping to look at the details.

Venice Canals

Oh, those reflections!

Venice Canals

And ducks.

Venice Canals

I’ll be sorry when the holiday decorations come down.

Venice Canals

But even without the decorations the canals are never less than picturesque.

Venice Canals

This cat was very curious about my shoe. Perhaps he could smell some other felines I know.

Venice Canals

Although there are many cats strolling around the canals, ducks rule!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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December on the Venice Canals – part one

venice canals

In December I made several trips to the Venice Canals and Venice Beach for a walking tour I was working on.

venice canals

I was happy to see some people had their Christmas decorations up.

venice canals

And unlike my visit in June when it was dark and dismal and the canal was in the process of being dredged (see post here), the sun was out and everything was looking cheery.

venice canals

This ladybug was having a good day too!

venice canals

Even Yoda and Darth Veda were in the holiday spirit!

venice-121615-015-C-700px

venice canals

But I wasn’t too sure about these two snowy egrets!

venice canals

However, this fella seemed to be enjoying the sunshine.

venice canals

One of the things I appreciate about the canals as a photographer is all the reflections… and the juxtaposition of the boats.

venice canals

And the variety of architecture is always fun to photograph.

venice canals

Giant candy canes growing right out of the bushes.

venice canals

Too bad we can’t have holiday decorations all year round.

venice canals

But we do have snowy egrets posing for the camera in every season.

venice canals

It wouldn’t be Christmas without the poinsettias.

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venice canals

Don’t mess with the ducks… the residents of the canals are especially protective of them.

venice canals

This palm tree could use a trim. They need to be manicured on a regular basis or the fronds will drop in the wind.

I wrote the names of my cats on a scrap of paper and left it on this pet tree.

venice canals

venice canals

I’ll be posting more random photos from my December visit from time to time.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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20th Annual Culver City Art Group Holiday Art Show

culver city art group

It’s that time of year again and hard to believe we have been doing this for twenty years!

I will be exhibiting several of my photos in the main show… still deciding exactly which ones but I’m narrowing it down. I’ll also have a table with some of my previous work in ceramic tiles.

These are two of the photos I know for sure I’ll be exhibiting:

Malibu Pelicans

Pelicans, Malibu, California

oregon Cape Meares

Cape Meares, Oregon

The image above came as a surprise when I was checking the photos in Lightroom. This was taken the day after my accident and concussion and I truly was walking around in a fuzz for a few days. Good thing I like to take pictures or I probably would not have remembered being here!

Both of these will be printed on my 13 x 19 inch (33 x 48 cm) Canon inkjet printer.

I have an older Spyder4Pro calibrater for my monitor and I just ordered the upgrade Spyder5Elite which should be arriving today. I have very tricky lighting conditions in my office… so I’m hoping the more sophisticated calibrater will help deal with it. Hope I’m not wasting my money!

The show is one week away and I am nowhere near ready so, as usual, panic has set in. As luck will have it, Aaron Bros is having one of their one cent frame sales and I got a 50% coupon (that can be used once a day) for other items… it all helps.

I’m also working on setting up a photo website on SmugMug which is taking longer than I would like, but I think I have my head wrapped around their engine now and I can move full steam ahead… would be nice to have something up and running for the show, but if not, at least for the New Year!

On with the day!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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All the way to Santa Catalina Island for Bubble Gum ice cream

santa catalina island

The Catalina Casino has to be one of the most photographed and iconic buildings in the world. I never get tired of taking pictures of it, just as I never tire of visiting it.

On Saturday several of my explorer friends and I headed for Santa Catalina Island for a day trip.

Santa Catalina Island

Catalina is approximately 26 miles from San Pedro, the Los Angeles port we chose to travel from. I use that distance because it is the title of a 50s song by the Four Preps. I never heard the song before I Googled the words “Catalina song.”

At the end of the post I’ve included two versions of the song by the Four Preps, one from long ago and one more recently. It’s a peppy song and now I can’t get it out of my head… but certainly matches the Catalina feeling!

And yup, that’s our catamaran above, the Starship Express! Not quite the Enterprise, but close enough!

Santa Catalina Island

The photo above is our first sighting of the island after leaving port. A little hazy… and I was shooting through a window…

Santa Catalina Island

As we neared Avalon we were hit in the face by this crazy condo complex cut into the side of the formerly pristine mountainside. Hamilton Cove just keeps on growing… okay, moving on…

Santa Catalina Island

This was our next, more pleasant view from the boat. Just as I remembered it.

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Santa Catalina Island

Avalon has a very small beach but it is popular. As it was past noon by now our first thought was food so we made a bee line for the restaurant.

It’s been several years since I last visited and since then The Busy Bee, my favorite water-side restaurant, morphed into the more upscale Bluewater Grill.

Santa Catalina Island

After a rather long wait for just the right table (able to accomodate six people) we were happy to sit down and admire that perfect view.

I ordered the sand dabs with summer squash and scalloped potatoes, one of the better meals I have ever eaten. I accompanied it with one of the best Bloody Mary’s I have ever tasted. It included a large, juicy shrimp, two huge stuffed olives and a string bean. I could have ordered two of those and called it lunch!

Santa Catalina Island

The Bluewater Grille hanging out over the water on the right. Pier on the left. At the top of the hill to the right is the Wrigley Mansion (now The Inn on Mt Ada).  At one time William Wrigley, Jr. (Wrigley’s Chewing Gum) owned the entire island.

Santa Catalina Island

After lunch we walked up to the Casino and I stopped to take some snapshots of people enjoying themselves on this glorious day. Not just people, of course. This dog was obviously captain of his ship.

Santa Catalina Island

The row of buoys designates a swimming area where boats are not allowed.

santa catalina island

A little paragliding, anyone?

Santa Catalina Island

And I had to take the opportunity for my selfie. Look at how clear that water is… if I wasn’t covered from head to toe to protect myself from the sun, I would have jumped in! Fortunately, I had many years of frolicking in the ocean so I still remember what it feels like… I have always loved being in, on and around water.

Santa Catalina Island

Cars are not generally allowed on Catalina but there are plenty of golf carts for hire. I also noticed quite a few two-person smart cars. According to the Chamber of Commerce there is currently a 14-year wait to own a car on the island, so why bother?

Santa Catalina Island

Tiles are everywhere. I could have filled this post with them but I had to restrain myself. Wrigley founded Catalina Clay Products in the 1920s which produced pottery and tiles. Forget about the pottery, I adore Catalina-style tiles which are prized by collectors and imitated by contemporary tile artists (myself included).

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Santa Catalina Island

This tile piece illustrates the bison that have been roaming the hills of Catalina for a hundred years. I can tell you a few stories of my bison encounters when you have some time. Just recently (end of August) the CEO of a conservation group, engaged in mapping for a new hiking trail, was gored by a bison. Fortunately he survived, but they are wild animals and you don’t want to piss them off.

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Santa Catalina Island

The Catalina Island Yacht Club sports a fancy weathervane of a galleon.

Santa Catalina Island

Sailboats come from Los Angeles and around the world to drop anchor at Avalon Bay. In my sailing days I remember not being able to sleep because of the clanging of the rigging from the boats that surrounded us. I suppose old salts get used to it, but I was merely a weekend sailor so I didn’t.

Like many things in my life, I’m glad I tried it, but after years of dreaming about learning to sail, the reality wasn’t as glamorous as the expectations! Now I’m happy just to look at the boats from afar.

Santa Catalina Island

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Santa Catalina Island

The Casino is now a movie theater downstairs. The old ballroom is still open upstairs and many events are hosted here. There are also tours available of the building which I highly recommend… takes you back to days gone by.

The entryway murals were created in 1929. After John Gabriel Beckman completed the murals for Grauman’s Chinese Theater (in Hollywood), Wrigley invited the artist to adorn the Casino.

santa catalina island

Walkway to Descanso Beach Club, north of downtown Avalon. The place was hopping with loud music and twenty-somethings. A sign stated for $2 members of the public could access the property. But we decided it was time to return to Avalon for our ice cream dessert. I treated myself to a double cone with Bubble Gum on the top and Vanilla Bean on the bottom. The only time I go for Bubble Gum ice cream is at Big Olaf’s on Catalina. It’s a tradition I started for myself many years ago and I can’t give it up now!

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santa catalina island

After sitting for a while to people watch as we finished our ice cream, we sauntered on down to Lover’s Cove just past the boat dock. This is a popular place for birds to hang out so they can watch the snorkelers.

It was almost time to board the Catalina Express to head back to the mainland. It was a short trip due to circumstances beyond my control. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful afternoon and I wouldn’t have missed it.

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santa catalina island

We are already thinking about coming back next year when we can spend more time. I’m also thinking about making an overnight trip on my own. Just me and my camera.

There is SO much more to see on the island within walking distance of Avalon Beach… I have such great memories of hiking and biking all over.

santa catalina island

On the return trip we were able to snag seats on the outside deck. We had a fellow traveler for a while. But it turns out he was a stowaway without a paid ticket so as soon as we were out on the high seas he flew back to Avalon.

santa catalina island

Bye bye until next year, sweet Catalina!

Don’t leave just yet.  The Four Preps want to sing that song about the island that I promised you. But a warning, you will be humming it for the rest of the day!

The first video is from the 50s with the four original members:

The second video is a more recent version with two of the original members. (And one extra song.)

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!