RMW: the blog

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


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White Sands, New Mexico and an unplanned ode to the Sierra Club

 

white sands

Out of the tour bus at White Sands National Monument

I’ve been a member and supporter of the Sierra Club for almost forty years. Politics aside, the Club has been very good to me. Over the years I’ve participated in hundreds of hikes, events, activities and trips. And most importantly, I’ve made many good friends (including a couple of boyfriends and a husband!).

White Sands

A forensic nightmare: the perpetrator walked across the sand so we can identify the pattern on the soles of his shoes…

The Sierra Club has played an important part in my life. I was a hike leader for many years, editor of various newsletters and a volunteer at many fund raising events.

White Sands

The tenacity of plant life

It has also taken me on numerous wonderful trips around the USA and allowed me to discover the great National Parks of this country that I would never have seen on my own.

White Sands

Waves of sand. You can imagine the ocean in the distance but Santa Monica is more than 800 miles (1287 km) away

I’ve been on cruises, hiking trips, camping and just plain sight-seeing. This is an easy way for me to support the Club while having a good time myself.

White Sands

I’ve lived in Los Angeles continually since 1965. We are surrounded by beautiful mountains, but other than hiking the trails of Griffith Park (which are not to be sneered at) I had never really ventured into the Santa Monicas or the San Gabriels or the Verdugos. Around 1980 I discovered the Sierra Club and that all changed. I became addicted to hiking at least twice a week. One weekend my car wouldn’t start and rather than spend the time to get it fixed I convinced my father to loan me his car so I could go on a hike!

White Sands

The sun was already fading and the contrast between light and dark was making it increasingly difficult to capture the landscape

I can’t trust myself to do any heavy duty hiking anymore. My ankles, knees and hips took a beating with all the running I did for several decades. But that is totally okay. I have fabulous memories of trudging around the mountains in awe of the beauty of Southern California. I look up at the mountains now as old friends and we smile knowingly at each other.

White Sands

The purple flowers in the center stand out in this stark landscape

Sometimes I start writing and I get off on a tangent. So I just let it flow. This post was supposed to be all about my Sierra Club trip to southern New Mexico last year. And White Sands National Monument in particular. All the photos you’ve been looking at are from that area. We had a limited amount of time but as I’ve said before, there is always a trade-off when on a motor coach tour. On the one hand you have no responsibility and all the stress is on the shoulders of the leader. On the other hand, you don’t get to decide where to go or how much time to spend at any given location. But I did manage to take one prize-winning photograph at White Sands and that made the whole trip worthwhile for me!!!

White Sands
From the website: Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here.

White Sands

As the sun went down the shadows were getting longer which made some interesting photographs

White Sands

On the photo above I liked the way the tendrils seemed to wave around as if the plant was under water and the shadows added extra interest.

White Sands

Hey, we saw some native wildlife! This beetle was making his own tracks over the imprints left by human visitors.

The original photo

White Sands

Playing a little in Lightroom and Photoshop

Although I love the act of taking a photo and making it the best composition I can, I have to admit the real fun begins for me in the post processing. When I saw this tree I also immediately imagined the possibilities. By itself it’s a perfectly acceptable photograph. But in my opinion the trip through Lightroom and Photoshop makes it magical!

White Sands

This leaf also had a little help from Photoshop with the posterization filter. This is my go-to filter to really make the image pop.

White Sands

Got to love those shadows. Although the light was getting a little difficult, it also added a little drama!

White Sands

White Sands

I had wandered off quite a ways by myself to take photos. I came back to see the group having fun sliding down the dunes. Good for them. My fun is in making art. To each their own, yeah?

Click on an image below for slide show.

Original photo

White Sands

A little fun with Photoshop

By now the shadows were REALLY long. I couldn’t resist taking this photo of my shadow. I didn’t even notice the person standing at the top until I played with the image in Photoshop. Totally serendipitous. This won first prize in the member’s theme at the Culver City Art Group Holiday Show. And I think it also helped me win for best body of work. You never know when you are out shooting what photos are going to turn out best and which ones are going to miss the objective. It really is a hit and miss shooting match!

White Sands

Like all the trips I take, I always think I’ll have the opportunity to return and take more time. But I never do. So I have learned to soak in as much as possible whenever possible.

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Feline Friday – #81 – leisure time for Friday

friday

Never enough meeses to play with.

These photos are an homage to my late, great Tuxedo Cat Friday. He passed away in 2013 at the age of 18. He knew how to live the good life!

friday

Some privacy while I wash, please!

He was a very friendly, playful, sweet cat most of the time. But due to missing a protein in his brain he exhibited characteristics of being bipolar and schizophrenic.

friday

Just five minutes more….

I’ve written about his condition previously. He was on amitriptyline every 24 hours. It saved his life as otherwise I would not have been able to keep him. Without the medication he was extremely aggressive towards me and in the middle of the night would run up and down the stairs and slam himself against the walls. It was pretty terrifying and I lived in fear of him for several months. The day he went on the medication he became a different cat.

If you encounter a cat with these traits, ask the vet about amitriptyline!


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Feline Friday – #80 – cats rule!

frankie la times

I subscribe to the digital version of the Los Angeles Times but for some mysterious reason we were getting deliveries of the printed version and nobody in the building claimed them. So I took them to use for various purposes. Obviously Frankie decided he liked the printed version better than the digital version.

Freddie drapes

Freddie likes to take naps under the drapes in the bedroom. As you can see he also likes to get his claws in them.

Frankie chair

Speaking of claws, Frankie uses the chairs to sharpen his. This is apparently preferential to using the scratching pads I have provided.

Freddie scanner

Freddie likes to stretch out on the scanner. It’s difficult to lift the lid of the scanner with a 16 lb (7.25 kg) cat lying on it but I manage.

One thing you have to learn is cats rule!


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Feline Friday – #79 – the bigger the smaller

 

freddie and frankie

There are so many cat rules, sometimes it’s hard to keep up… especially as some of them change with a whim.

But one rule that seems to remain constant is the bigger the cat, the smaller the space necessary to be comfortable. And vice versa.

My 16-pound (7.3 kg) cat Freddie scrunches himself up into a small box on my living room table. You’ll find him there early afternoon to evening.

freddie and frankie

My smaller cat, Frankie, weighing in at 11 lbs (5 kg) needs a whole sofa (actually the loveseat) to himself.

freddie and frankie

It seems to be an equitable arrangement. Freddie does his yoga moves to fit in the box.

freddie and frankie

While Frankie has sweet dreams buried in the pillows.

 


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Deck the Halls of DTLA again – with views from the Wilshire Grand Hotel

christmas downtown los angeles

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Two days before Christmas I repeated the Downtown Los Angeles Christmas Tree & Decorations Tour. Click on this link for last week’s walk. This time there were five of us. I know there were other people who wanted to come but due to illnesses, injuries and other commitments, could not make it.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Don’t know what kind of tree this is but the red berries made it very festive. At California Plaza.

So I’m thinking maybe I should do this again in 2018! I’m also thinking about a Christmas Decorations walk through Beverly Hills. I did a photo walk a couple of years ago, see the post here.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Another view of the red berry tree

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

California Plaza includes two skyscrapers, both of which are shown in the above photo.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

My four companions on the walk at California Plaza

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Lobby of the US Bank Building with the Central Library in the background.

In February or March I’m hoping to put together a tour of the Central Library and then use the 50% off coupons I have to visit Skyspace, the open air observation deck at the top of the US Bank Building.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

A view of the Central Library with the new Wilshire Grand Hotel (with the mast) peeking up behind it.

The US Bank building (also known as Library Tower) was able to build to 72 floors by trading air space with the Central Library. So the library can never build higher than its present height.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Millenium Biltmore Hotel lobby

Yup, you saw the above tree in my previous post. But it’s so gorgeous it’s worth seeing again! Do you recognize that ceiling? It was used in The Poseidon Adventure.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations  

Hands-on dad assisting his daughter with the Penguin helper at Pershing Square

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

There’s construction going on everywhere these days. More people, more traffic.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Hotel Clark as seen from Pershing Square

The Hotel Clark was built sometime around 1912-ish. It was a transient hotel for many years and in pretty bad shape. It’s really good to see its new life as a boutique hotel with a rooftop restaurant/bar. I have to see if I can get up there at some point.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Tree on 70th floor of Wilshire Grand

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

View from the 70th floor of the new Wilshire Grand Hotel

If you read my previous blog post, the first time I made it to the 70th floor lobby of the Wilshire Grand Hotel I had a terrible case of vertigo that crippled me, so I couldn’t take any photos. This time I was still a little queazy but I was able to wrap my brain around the fact that I was up so high and it was okay. The above view looks out to the Santa Monica Mountains and towards Malibu.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

The main part of LA is known as the Los Angeles Basin. You can see how the name originated as we are surrounded by mountain ranges. On the other side of the mountains is The Valley… still a part of the City of Angels.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

And then there are the freeways. Pretty light traffic for a Saturday. Everybody has parked their cars at the shopping malls for Christmas shopping!

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

The ocean on the horizon… from Palos Verdes to Santa Monica. The ocean is about 15 miles (24 km) from the Wilshire Grand.

I know the color is awful on these photos. I’m still having problems with color calibration and Lightroom… and reflections through the windows didn’t help. A triple whammy.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

You might notice the heli-pad on the building next door. Until recently there was a requirement to have a helicopter landing place on every building in downtown for emergencies. Since that ruling has been lifted we are seeing some more architecturally interesting rooftops.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

This last photo is a zoomed-in look at Echo Park Lake, approximately two miles (3.2 km) from the hotel. That white object sticking up in the center of the lake is the Olympic Fountain installed for the 1984 Olympics. You can see photos of the lake on my blog post here.

Be sure to see my post about the previous week’s walk-through of downtown decorations at Deck the Halls of DTLA.

 


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Deck the halls of DTLA

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Los Angeles City Hall at right mirrored with Christmas tree

Thanks to my friend SB for walking around Downtown Los Angeles (otherwise known as DTLA) with me today. It’s no secret I love downtown and I especially love it at Christmas… otherwise know as “The Holidays.” As anybody who knows me is aware, I embrace all religions and follow none. But I was brought up with Christmas, so that’s the way it is!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

The above photo advertises El Dia de Los Muertos which is celebrated at Grand Park with installations honoring the dead, a Mexican tradition. The N.Y.E.L.A. poster is for the New Years Eve party hosted at Grand Park. At right is the reflection of the fountain.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

A reflection in a window of the fountain with Christmas decoration on the left half. I always love Christmas with palm trees! After being too hot, today the temperature was around 70F (21C), my perfect temperature!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

We walked over to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. This was the window of the gift shop. We assumed the colorful tubes represent the pipes of the organ in the hall. And you can see the reflection of City Hall peeking up behind the pipes.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Decorations in the window of the gift shop with reflections of clouds and palm trees. How Southern California is this?

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

The exterior of the Broad Museum mirroring a reflection of the building next to it.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

We walked over to California Plaza to look at the decorations. The Angels Flight train was coming up the track.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

City Hall in the background.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Christmas trees reflected in the pool at California Plaza.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Christmas tree and wreath inside the building with reflections from outside.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Another tree inside lobby of a building with reflections from outside. Obviously I’m obsessed with reflections!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Decorations inside the lobby, yes, with more reflections!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Looking upwards from California Plaza

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Next we moved on to Grand Central Market. Loved this neon ad for Frontier Whiskey!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Grand Central Market Christmas Tree

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

One Bunker Hill didn’t disappoint with their decorations. But the coffee bar was closed for the weekend.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations
One Bunker Hill is one of my favorite buildings any time of the year.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

A very decent tree at the US Bank Building, the “real” tallest building in LA.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

We then transported ourselves over to the Biltmore Hotel. We had lunch there at Smeraldi’s. We each ordered the mushroom bisque.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Absolute heaven. And we split the prawn sandwich. Equally as good. Just enough food. Would do that again for sure!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

I adore the Biltmore. I could live there!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Now this is what I call a Christmas tree. The photo really doesn’t do it justice. Sorry.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations
They do a really great “tea” in the afternoons.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Christmas in LA cannot be complete without a visit to the skating rink at Pershing Square. The little kids have “penguins” to hold on to. It’s great to see them fall and get up again and still enjoy themselves. A lesson there for all of us!

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Looking up from Pershing Square.

los angeles downtown holiday decorations

Pacific Mutual always has some good decorations. I love all the 1920s buildings in downtown but this one is special to me as when I did my LA Conservancy training this was the building I had to present in order to become a docent. It’s hard for me to believe now but I was so nervous I almost decided to quit the program before I had to give my talk. Glad I didn’t!

After this we visited the brand new Wilshire Grand Hotel. We took the elevator up to the lobby on the 70th floor. I had a bad vertigo attack looking out of the windows as there are no railings to hold on to. Why not??? In any case it was horribly hazy from all the fires so I could not have taken any photos anyway. But it would certainly be an impressive view on a clear day. Some other time, for sure!

Feline Friday – #78 – here comes the sun

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Frankie Freddie sunThe Melaleuca trees in the front of the building were trimmed last week. It’s made a huge difference to the amount of sunlight streaming through the living room windows… not to mention the view of people and dogs and cars passing by. Now everybody wants the window seat!

Frankie Freddie sun
Between the shutters and the window is the best view.

Frankie Freddie sun
But the carpeted pedestal is definitely the most comfy. Too bad there isn’t room for two at a time! But it’s just a matter of working out a schedule.

Another good sunny spot is in the bedroom in the morning on the shoe rack.

Frankie Freddie sunThere are definitely too many shoes here. All those well-worn shoes with the holes in the toes and soles need to go in order to make room for the newer ones. But it’s hard to part with old comfortable friends.

Frankie Freddie sunThe ironing board is a good place to hang out too to catch a few rays.

As the sun moves around the house you have to move with it. It’s a skill you have to work at… but the rewards are worth it!


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Culver City Art Group… we did it again!

culver city art group

As some of you know, the Culver City Art Group held our 22nd Annual Holiday Art Show on November 11. Every year I convince myself this is my last year and every year I come back.

Once again our show was located at beautiful Playa Vista Centrepointe Club.

I’m going to toot my own horn here. It’s not easy. I’d rather talk about somebody else’s work than my own but I have to get over that!

The ribbon in the photo above was for Body of Work: Photography. I never expected this as I really admire the other photographers in our group. On the other hand, I’m not going to let myself down and say I didn’t deserve it!

These three photos above are, from left to right, 1. White Sands, New Mexico 2. Sleeping Lion, LA Zoo 3. Canoes for rent with the Casino in the background, Catalina Island.

The small photo in the center is of Pharoah, my cat who passed away in July. He was represented as I gave a memorial award in his honor.

Culver City Art Group
The other side of my exhibit with another photo of White Sands and a photo of the William Jefferson Clinton Pedestrian Bridge in Little Rock, Arkansas.

I also won first prize in the Members’ Theme, “Let There Be Light.” I was on my way to take a photo and got distracted. But you can see it here at Photos I’m Showing at the Culver City Art Group Show.

And Marion Wong, who helps me (but does most of the work!) with the buffet table, gave me her memorial award for my “Sleeping Lion” photo which was a lovely surprise and much appreciated.

https://onegoodlife.wordpress.com/2017/11/09/photos-im-showing-at-the-culver-city-art-group-show/

I presented my memorial award from Pharoah to Barbara Golbin (the pink ribbon next to her painting). Pharoah always loved flowers. Indoors or out, if there were flowers around, he would curl up next to them or stand and wait to have his portrait taken.  He is certainly missed.

Following are some random photos of the show:

Three of our exhibitors. Claudia Dose, Pamela Waddell, Barbara Golbin (our President).

culver city art group
Complete list of winners:

Main Show

1st     Nick Kolesniko                Voyage

2nd   Eileen Brabender            Glowing Roses

3rd     Maria Kurtz                    Golden Sunset

4th    Jim Drummond                Horses

5th    Judith Shellenberger         Yosemite Falls

HM    Beth Pfaffinger              Hill with home

HM    Marion Wong                  Zion #2

HM    Diane Bulgatz                Fantasia

Members Theme: Let there be Light

1st     Roslyn Wilkins               Shadow, White Sands

2nd    Regine Legler                 Dreams of Yesterday

3rd     Young Prasad                Good Luck

Best Body of Work

Barbara Owens – Water Color – Jack Richeson certificate

Ray Chavez – Oil – Jack Richeson certificate

Pam Waddel – Acrylic – Jack Richeson certificate

Roslyn Wilkins – Photography – Paul’s Photo certificate

Memorial awards

Young Prasad  to Maria Kurtz

Roslyn Wilkins to Barbara Golbin (for Pharoah)

Marion Wong to Roslyn Wilkins

Achievement award

Allison Foster  to Claudia Dose and Beth Pfaffinger

Congratulations to EVERYBODY. Just showing your work is an achievement!


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Marché de Noël

marche de noel

Last weekend I participated in le Marché de Noël, a holiday boutique in aid of Ecole Claire Fontaine, a French art and language school in Venice for two to seven year olds. A French friend from the Culver City Art Group invited me. I figured it was a way to put my photos out into the world, so why not?

I displayed some of my earlier work in the form of 20″ x 16″ (51 cm x 41 cm) canvas prints I had made up when there was a promotional sale some years ago. At the time I was so excited about getting back into photography I went a little crazy. But I still love those photos, even though now I see all the mistakes, and they adorn my walls. It was nice to see them out of the house and in a different setting. I didn’t sell any but I did get some very positive feedback.

I sold quite a few of my photo greeting cards which more than covered all the expenses of making them and other expenses for the day. I met some interesting people who tried to speak French to me. Unfortunately all those DVDs fell on deaf ears. Well, I can speak and understand French “un peu” in a controlled situation when I know the context, like walking into a store and asking how much is that scarf? But when somebody walks up to me and starts speaking, I get flustered and intimidated. So I had to keep saying, sorry I don’t understand you!

marche de noel

I liked this photo of me standing next to the red arrow. It means to me that I have to keep moving forward with my photography and not get discouraged.

It was this time of year five years ago that I bought my Canon T3i, a very basic DSLR. At the time I questioned whether this was a good decision. I thought I was too old to start up a new hobby. Every photographer in the universe was way ahead of me. I almost gave up before I started. But then I told myself that in five years I would be five years further along the path. And here I am, indeed, five years on and not doing too badly!

I was really happy that several friends showed up at this event to chat. E and her sister walked all the way from Santa Monica. S took several buses from Westwood. L fought beach traffic and spent 2o minutes looking for a parking space. So I appreciate the effort they made.

The photo below is of a gentlemen who set up his art next to me. He is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, so of course I told him that is where my mother was from. Along with Spanish he also speaks fluent French and English. How do people do that?

marche de noel

He told me he clips photos of people out of magazines that interest him in some way and paints them. I really loved the portrait in the center of the man with turban and beard. The beard was like flowing water. He told me the story of each one. He said he knew he wouldn’t sell anything. He just wanted people to see his paintings. Really, when you are an artist that is what it’s about.

The “ecole” was a lovely setting to be in for the day. I’m glad I decided to be there. Life is good!

 


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Feline Friday – #77 – after shower drink

frankie freddie faucet

We had to beg our human to post a Feline Friday today. Once again she is in a panic getting her photos ready for an exhibit tomorrow. She says it isn’t about selling her work, it’s about putting her intentions out into the universe. What kind of hippie crap is that?

No decent cat would talk about intentions into the universe. We want something, we meow. At worst we might climb up our human’s legs… only when she’s wearing jeans, of course. Or we might swat her on the cheek in bed at 5:00 AM, yeah that works.

But intentions? Universe? Give us a break!

We weren’t really happy about it but she posted this photo of us, Freddie and Frankie, catching the drips out of the faucet when she stepped out of the shower. While it’s embarrassing, the truth is that water dripping out of the bathtub faucet is so much more exciting than the filtered water in our drinking fountain.

frankie freddie faucet

What happened? The water stopped dripping! Now what are we supposed to do? Put our intentions out into the universe? Okay, if that’s what it takes… Oh, dear universe, bring back our water… pretty please!