One Good Life in Los Angeles

Roslyn's observations about places and events around Southern California


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Thundery Sunday at the Huntington Library and Gardens

Huntington Library Gardens

Four of us brave souls called the weather gods’ bluff and despite a forecast for rain, thunder and lightning made the trip out to the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, depending on the route you take, less than 25 miles from Culver City. When I go by myself I take the train and my feet but this day we drove.

Huntington Library Gardens

Since my last visit a couple of years ago they have installed a whole new garden near the entrance. And they have upgraded the dining options, always a good thing!

Huntington Library Gardens

No matter how many times I visit the Huntington, I always leave wanting more, looking forward to the next trip out there.

Huntington Library Gardens

We pretty much managed to avoid the rain until the very end. As we were sitting in the restaurant for lunch, the heavens opened up and provided us with some great thunder and lightning entertainment. When lunch was over, so was the rain. It’s all in the timing.Huntington Library Gardens

One of the cool temporary exhibits is the Orbit Pavilion… a sound experience that allows you to listen to the movement of NASA’s earth science satellites as they pass across the sky above you.

Huntington Library Gardens

This structure captures the sounds as you stand inside.

I wonder, as we are listening to them, are they listening to us?

Huntington Library Gardens

When I came up on this scene I wondered what all the baby bunnies were doing hanging out on the lawn with the geese. New glasses, Roslyn! These are goslings under the care of two napping grownups… yes, I imagine looking after all these cute little guys would be quite exhausting.

As you know from posts about my previous visits, I’ve taken gazillions of photos at the Gardens. I just enjoy wandering around shooting whatever takes my fancy. So here are a gazillion more random photos:

One last stop at the Conservatory and as we emerged, the rain started up. We took cover hoping the storm would pass but it was relentless.

Huntington Library Gardens

We gave up and made a run for the parking lot. We got soaked but at least we didn’t have to take the bus… we could be soggy all the way home in the comfort of our car!

Visit my other posts about the Huntington Library and Gardens:

https://onegoodlife.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/in-hot-water-at-the-huntington-library/

https://onegoodlife.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/thirsty-afternoon-in-the-desert-garden-at-the-huntington-library/

https://onegoodlife.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/reflections-in-a-pond-and-art-gallery/

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 Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Roses get their close-ups

roses

I was visiting the Natural History Museum nature gardens last week to take a few photos with my macro lens. I’ve had the lens for a while but I don’t use it very often. So I decided to force myself to take photos with only that lens. Although I was enjoying doing that my attention was drawn to the rainbow of colors next door at the Exposition Park Rose Garden.

rose garden

Probably because of the heavy rains we have experienced after years of drought, the roses are apparently blooming early. The garden was a gorgeous sight to behold.

rose garden

The best estimate I can find is there are 200,000 bushes and over 200 varieties of roses in the 7-acre garden.

rose garden

The Rose Garden is next door to the Natural History Museum, in front of the California Science Center and across the Expo Line railway tracks from the University of Southern California.

rose garden

And it’s a short Expo Line trip from Culver City. Walk across the tracks from the station and you are there!

rose garden

It was such a beautiful April day in LA and I was grateful to be alive!

rose garden

Please click on an image below for slide show.

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 Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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The New Frontiers of George Takei and a dash of black velvet

george takei

I have been a Star Trek fan since Season One, Episode One of the original show. That show broke a lot of boundaries, not the least of which was the character of Lieutenant Sulu. The Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles, is currently paying tribute to the actor and activist, George Takei with an exhibit of his personal memorabilia from the many facets of his life.

FROM WIKIPEDIA:

George Hosato Takei (武井 穂郷 Takei Hosato, /təˈk/; born April 20, 1937) is an American actor, director, author, and activist of Japanese descent. Takei is best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise in the television series Star Trek. He also portrayed the character in six Star Trek feature films and one episode of Star Trek: Voyager.

Takei’s involvement in social media has brought him fresh attention. As of February 2017, his Facebook page has over 10 million likes since he joined in 2011, and he frequently shares photos with original humorous commentary.

Takei is a proponent of LGBT rights and is active in state and local politics. He has won several awards and accolades in his work on human rights and Japan–United States relations, including his work with the Japanese American National Museum.

george takei

The poster reads: Like his most famous character, helmsman Hikaru Sulu of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise, George Takei has voyaged through many worlds.

He has not only experienced some of the most critical moments in our nation’s history, from politics and pop culture to activism and the arts, he has also become a driving force behind some its most transformative changes.

This exhibition will take you through events that shaped 20th and 21st-century America, allowing you to experience them through Takei’s eyes, voice, and memories.

george takei

I have visited the JANM on a previous occasion. So I didn’t linger in the other areas of the museum which speak to the experience of Japanese people in America, including their internment during World War II… both Japanese and American citizens… which was a part of Takei’s young life.

george takei

As I was there with a group of friends we had a time limit before heading off to lunch in Little Tokyo and I decided to focus on George!

george takei

Helmsman Sulu’s chair. I am in need of a new office chair and this does look pretty comfy. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try it out.

Although on a tour of Paramount Studios many years ago I had the great privilege of sitting in Captain Picard’s chair on a Star Trek set. No matter what amazing things happen (or indeed have happened) in my life, those few moments will always be a highlight!!!!!

george takei

Sulu’s uniform and a photo of him wearing it. Who knew way back then, in 1965, before most people were even born (!) this show would become such a phenomenon with far-reaching influences.

Viewing this exhibit was a fascinating look at an interesting man who has lived, and is living, quite an adventurous life.

After lunch four of us decided to hop on the Gold Line to Chinatown just two stops away. On a previous walk through the area we had stumbled upon the Velveteria, The Museum of Velvet Paintings. We didn’t go inside but vowed to come back, so as we were so close by this was the opportunity.

velveteria

The owners, Caren Anderson and Carl Baldwin (click on the website link above to see their photos), own a 3,000 piece collection, with about 450 paintings displayed.

velveteria

These are not your typical Tijuana tourist velvet paintings. Most of the ones we saw on display are portraits of celebrities like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

velveteria

Didn’t see any images of George Takei in this museum but no worries, Star Trek is still well represented with Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock) and the USS Enterprise!

velveteria

And you’ve got to have a glow-in-the-dark velvet painting for your bedroom! Well, maybe not…

velveteria

A velvet museum would not be complete without a portrait of Liberace. I don’t know, but it just seems appropriate.

By then we were ready to jump on the Red Line to the Expo Line and home. Just another day exploring downtown Los Angeles…

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 Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 


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Out of the garage: Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

antelope valley poppy reserve

On Sunday my friend B and I ventured out to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. Because this rain season in Southern California has brought us more of the wet stuff than we have seen in years, ending our seven-year drought, we assumed the poppy fields would be spectacular. There was a nice display but nothing like the blankets of orange we had experienced the last time we visited… back in 2003.

I painted the tile above from photos of that trip and it is still one of my favorites. It greets me when I come in my front door. Of course my late cat, Friday, wasn’t really there but I painted him anyway as my signature!

antelope valley poppies

Nevertheless, we enjoyed the trip. I had Cinnamon Girl, my fifteen-year-old Subaru Outback, tuned up in February and she was raring to take on the 180-mile round trip. I felt a slight hesitancy on the uphill on the way there. But coming back she took those hills at 75 MPH (120 km) without blinking. I know she was happy to get out of the garage and feel the wind whipping around her. I hope she lasts at least another fifteen years!

antelope valley poppies

B and I were also happy to be out of the city and in the open spaces with the wind attempting to blow our hats off.

antelope valley poppies

B mentioned the difference a week makes as last Sunday we were in downtown Los Angeles visiting Little Tokyo. I need to upload that blog post!

antelope valley poppies

The poppy fields were crowded with people. The last half mile was stop and go… worse than traffic on a Friday evening on the 405 freeway! But I was expecting it so I didn’t mind.

antelope valley poppies

Just being able to see for miles with no buildings or cars was worth the trip!

antelope valley poppies

Windmills in the distance providing alternative power sources.

Unfortunately, despite warnings to stay on the paths, we saw too many people trampling the wildflowers to obtain those important selfies. Aaargh…. PEOPLE!!! Evidently the rules don’t apply to everybody. Way to go, parents, training your kids to selfishly satisfy your own desires and spoil the experience for everybody else…

antelope valley poppies

We were glad we made the effort. We rewarded ourselves with dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant back in Culver City!

A great day!

Please click on any image below for slide show.

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 Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 


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Venice – walking and shooting – neighborhood and Abbott Kinney

Venice

A couple of weekends ago I walked around Venice with the Photographic Adventurers run by Will. Although I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Venice during my lifetime, we first walked through a neighborhood I was not familiar with. Living in a city as vast as LA it’s not uncommon to discover new areas.

Venice

I enjoy meeting up with fellow photographers. I always learn something.

Venice

Tree trunks are one of my favorite subjects to photograph. I liked the fungi on this one.

VenicePeeling wood is just as good!

Venice

Finding odd, unusual items to photograph it always satisfying.

Venice

This feline relaxing on his royal purple throne was eager to pose for his portrait!

Venice

These pink flowers peering out of the moss (albeit artificial) appealed to me.

Venice

Who could resist this face framed in the doorway?

Venice

Out of the neighborhood and on Abbott Kinney Boulevard, the hip, trendy place to be on a Saturday! No secret I LOVE reflections and these two mannequins seemed to epitomize the well-dressed patrons of this area.

Please click on any image below for a slide show.

Although I’ve walked along Abbott Kinney many times, this time I was looking for some off-beat images to photograph. Think I found them!

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 Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Culver City’s Screenland 100th birthday 5K, The Race of the Century

screenland 5KCulver City was incorporated on September 20, 1917 so our little town of approximately 40,000 people has been celebrating our 100th birthday since last year.

One of the celebratory events was the “Screenland 5K, The Race of the Century,” in which I participated. Lori Escalara headed a team to help support the restoration of public murals in Culver City so I figured that was a good reason to plonk down the entrance fee, not to mention the T-shirt and medal that came with it!

Screenland 5K 100thCulver City birthdayUnfortunately it turned out to be a rather grungy day weather-wise with no sun. At one point I had to walk with my camera inside my jacket. But it could have been worse.

screenland 5K

We were entertained by bands along the way.

screenland 5K

I was ten minutes late getting to the start line and by the time I had walked a few yards, many of the serious runners had already completed the first third of the 5K (3.1-mile) course and had turned around.

The race was scheduled for the morning of February 26 to coincide with the date of the 89th Academy Awards later in the day.

screenland 5K

Culver City is dubbed “The Heart of Screenland” because of the numerous movies filmed at studios such as MGM, Columbia, Sony, RKO, Desilu, Selznick and many, many more.

The Heart of Screenland

Perhaps the most famous movies are “Gone with the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz.” But I also have to mention “Singing in the Rain.” Some of the 5K participants dressed up as their favorite movie characters. I was just ME!!!!

The Heart of Screenland

Sony and Culver Studios opened their lots to the 5K participants.


I was looking forward to getting some close-ups of the Rainbow sculpture inside the gates… too bad the sky was so grey.

screenland 5K

But I was happy to get a good shot of the artwork for my all time favorite movie “Lawrence of Arabia” which I have watched numerous times. I love everything about it from Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif to the spectacular photography and the glorious music. I realize the story isn’t that close to being accurate but that doesn’t stop my appreciation of the film.

screenland 5K

A peek into a “window” to see a gathering of classic movie stars.

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I walk or drive by Sony Studios several times a week on my way somewhere but it was nice to see inside. I have actually taken visitors from out of town on the studio tour a couple of times. And, of course, the exterior is on my Culver City walking tours.

screenland 5K

My final time was something in the range of 1 hour, 20 minutes so obviously I wasn’t going for any prizes! I was having more fun taking photos.

Click on any image for the slide show:

After I completed the 5K I felt like I could have kept going. So in a couple of weeks some friends and I will be walking the 6-mile CicLAvia route from Culver City to Venice Beach.

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 Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Diamonds to brighten a gloomy day

natural history museum

We’re finally getting some rain in LA and that makes me happy. Of course the downside to rain is gloomy skies.

I had heard about some special diamonds being exhibited at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. So after a little discussion with myself about all the other important things I should be doing, I donned my rain jacket and headed for the train.

The nice thing about being a member is I can pop in anytime I like. It was 11:30 by the time I arrived and I had purposefully had no breakfast (a tablespoon of yogurt and a handful of walnuts to be truthful) so I could hit the cafe and order my favorite veggie burger in all of LA.

natural history museum

Outside seating was limited as I assume they had taken all the tables inside because of the rain. And the cafe was packed inside. But I was early enough to snag one of the very few outside tables. The photo at top was my view as I sat outside under the grey skies!

Advertising for the diamonds exhibit was displayed on my table. A true feast for the senses. Not only was I enjoying the most fabulous veggie burger with mushrooms and cheese, but I was visually tantalized by the image of the diamonds I would see after lunch. After the last bite of the burger I drank my coffee slowly, savoring the thought of what was to come next.

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natural history museum

natural history museum

But before we get to that, the entrance of the museum was decorated with elegant trees adorned with sparkling jewels. How appropriate for the purpose of my visit today!

natural history museum

Now to the diamonds. This is the Rainbow Diamond Necklace. 35.93 carats total. Blue-grey (extremely rare), green-yellow, orange-pink, purple-pink, brown-orange.

natural history museum As the UV lighting is gradually turned up you can see the colors changing

natural history museum

With the UV lighting you see the rainbow appear.

natural history museum

natural history museum

Although up close in ordinary light the delicate colors are gorgeous. And in the UV light the colors glow.

natural history museum

Although up close in the light the delicate colors are gorgeous.

The Juliet Pink diamond is 30.3 carats. Pink diamonds occur in less than 0.1% of all diamonds.

natural history museum

On the left is the Victorian Orchid Diamond 1.64 carats). Purple diamonds are among the rarest. On the right is the Argyle Violet Diamond (2.83 carats) another amongst the rarest diamonds ever found. Decisions, decisions, which one do I want to take home?

natural history museum

On the way out (conveniently through the gift shop) I snapped a picture of the Christmas tree. I haven’t had my own Christmas tree for at least twenty years so I enjoy them wherever I find them.

natural history museum

Can’t visit the NHM without a visit to the Nature Garden. What a nice Christmassy display of berries. It was time to hop back on the Expo Line train that stops right outside the entrance to the museum. How convenient is that?

As I write this it is the evening of the same day. The weather forecast claims it was supposed to be raining 15 minutes ago. I stuck my head out on the deck and it is a light drizzle at best. Don’t disappoint me now!!!

Oh oh oh! I hear rain! Yes indeed, ran upstairs to the deck again and it is coming down in giraffes and elephants… I love it!

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 Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 


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Christmas at the Grove

farmers market

It’s been a while since I posted anything to my blog or caught up with my blogging friends. It’s been one thing after another… mostly good but some not so great… the way life goes.

I’ve missed everybody.

So we reboot.

Last Saturday I enjoyed the Christmas lights and entertainment at The Grove with some friends. We ate dinner at Canter’s Deli on Fairfax. Canter’s has been serving food since 1931. Been decades since I was there last. I was surprised at how reasonable the prices are. My friends were all ordering the senior meal so I had to go along. I had half a small tuna sandwich, small cup of soup, small potato salad. I was stuffed. But the senior meal? I am a senior?

The Grove is an upscale shopping center behind the Original Farmers Market, a tourist destination for lunch when you are on the Los Angeles City Tour. The Farmers Market is very low key, down home. The Grove is the opposite.

The Grove

But this night we were here to enjoy the Christmas spirit, lights and fellow Angelenos. I subscribe to no particular organized religion but I still enjoy Christmas and prefer to call it that rather than “the holidays.”

the grove

Farmers Market stalls lit up for Christmas

I had been to The Grove a few days earlier with a friend visiting from England but at night all lit up it was spectacular.

the grove

The Farmers Market originated in the mid 1930s during the depression. A dozen farmers showed up with produce in the back of their pickup trucks to sell to people. I think this display between the Market and The Grove is an homage to that event.

The Grove

Okay, so now we are walking into The Grove which opened in 2002.

The Grove

And I am feeling the Christmas spirit. I love it!

 

I HATE crowds but although it was crowded it was not at all uncomfortable. I was enjoying being with my friends and other people out to enjoy the evening.

grove-121016-017-c-500px The Grove

And Santa Claus was ready to receive visitors.

The Grove

And all was right with the world. I need to take my inner child to places like this to escape reality. It’s important. Having fun is a necessary part of a balanced life.

The Grove

I am grateful for my friends and being able to take part in events like this. These moments are precious.

Please enjoy the rest of my photos. Click on an image to start the slide show.

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 Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Gardens of privilege – Virginia Robinson Estate

virginia robinson gardens

View of the main house

The informative text in italics is taken directly from the Virgina Robinson Gardens website.

As long as I have lived in Los Angeles (all my adult life) I am still learning about and discovering new places. This is one such place.

virginia robinson gardens

Lawns are no longer bright green in LA due to the severe drought.

It was a hot day so I decided against taking the bus and struggling up the hill behind Sunset Boulevard… and Cinnamon Girl needed an outing. So I drove my car with the lovely air conditioning.

virginia robinson gardens

Pool house is undergoing renovation and pool is drained.

Built in 1911, the Robinson mansion was one of the first homes in Beverly Hills. Known for hosting the areas most legendary parties—it was not uncommon to catch famed individuals entering and leaving the estate.

virginia robinson gardens

Today, the garden is recognized as not only a historical landmark, but also as an exotic paradise that all sightseers are invited to enjoy.

virginia robinson gardens

When Virginia Robinson died in 1977 just before her 100th birthday, she was arguably one of the last grand dames of the Hollywood era. Nevertheless, she left her legendary home and gardens in serious disrepair. A leaky roof and a dangerous electrical system threatened the very survival of this cultural landmark.

virginia robinson gardens

“The Friends of Robinson Gardens” was founded in 1982 with a Board of Directors and a general membership of over 75 committed women.

virginia robinson gardens

A great deal was accomplished in a short period of time. The Friends of Robinson Gardens raised enough money to begin crucial repairs, establish docent programs, and begin educational seminars. Coincidentally, Robinsons Department Store, originally known as the Boston Dry Goods Store in downtown Los Angeles and owned by Harry Robinson’s family, was celebrating its 100th anniversary.

virginia robinson gardens

A letter from President Reagan that year called the Friends of Robinson Gardens “a fine example of what can be accomplished through cooperation between the private and public sector,” and congratulated the group on its significant accomplishments. Since its inception in 1982, the Friends have restored all of the historic buildings on the property according to the strict standards set by the Department of Interior and the Friends are contributing one quarter of the Gardens annual operating budget.

virginia robinson gardens

Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open by appointment to the public. Located behind the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, the beautiful six-acre property contains a breathtaking display garden, mansion and pool pavilion.

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virginia robinson gardens

The Robinson Gardens was once the site of lavish Hollywood parties. Mrs. Robinson was known as the first lady of Beverly Hills and her triumphs as a hostess are legendary: her diverse guests included royalty such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Hollywood stars like Marlene Dietrich and Fred Astaire; her neighbors were Glenn Ford, Lillian Disney and Elvis Presley. She sipped champagne cocktails with Sophia Loren and challenged Charlie Chaplin to a spirited game of tennis – all with her signature elegance and class.

virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

She was equally renowned for her philanthropy. Among the many benefits she hosted, the Hollywood Bowl Patronesses Benefit was a favorite. Each year, after the opening of the Hollywood Bowl season, the orchestra would repeat their performance on the estate’s Great Lawn, to the delight of her guests.

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virginia robinson gardens

Shortly before her death in 1977, Mrs. Robinson bequeathed her estate to Los Angeles County. The County, along with the not-for-profit organization Friends of Robinson Gardens, preserves the estate for future generations to enjoy.

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virginia robinson gardens

As the first luxury estate built in the world’s most famous residential neighborhood [Beverly Hills], the multi-faceted historic property provides an opportunity to experience the world of privilege in early Los Angeles.

virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

This cat was not at all disturbed by the visitors intruding on his shady nap. I believe his name is Henry or Harry, just can’t remember which!

virginia robinson gardens

A couple of very fancy bird houses… well, they are Beverly Hills birds!

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virginia robinson gardens

The potting shed

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virginia robinson gardens

It’s Southern California so you gotta have a palm tree forest in your garden!

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virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

The perfect location for a mid afternoon cup of tea!

virginia robinson gardens

And of course, a pink tennis court. Why not?

We were able to tour the interior of the house but not allowed to take photos.

Traffic was pretty bad driving through Beverly Hills back to Culver City on a Saturday afternoon but my chauffeur had the day off, so what could I do?

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 Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Belated birthday bash

union station

Looks like the original ticketing area is being renovated. In the station’s previous hey day each of those window openings would have lines of people purchasing tickets. Now tickets are purchased in a less glamorous location… or mostly online!!!

It’s good to have the computer up and running again. Still haven’t re-installed all my programs or properly recalibrated my monitor but I’m slowly working on it… and I have my fingers crossed!

On Saturday my friend B and I visited Union Station… my favorite building in all of Los Angeles. B and I met a couple of decades ago when we were neighbors. She stayed put. I moved. But only about 1.5 miles away, so we are still almost neighbors!

Union Station

Looking through the waiting area to the trains at the end.

Her birthday is in June, mine in May. For several years we have been talking about taking the Expo and Red Lines to Union Station and eating at Traxx Restaurant to celebrate our mutual birthdays. Although we meet for dinner at least once a month, we never seemed to be able to make it to Traxx.

Union Station

To make a longer story short, we couldn’t get a reservation at Traxx Restaurant for the day we wanted. So we decided to take the train to Union Station anyway and improvise. Turned out to be a better situation than getting a reservation. The bar opened at 11:30 (ish) and we were the first customers!

Union Station

B suggested a Bloody Mary which sounded good to me! Tasted delicious so we ordered a second round. Well, we were celebrating our birthdays! To balance out the alcohol we shared shrimp tacos and chicken quesadilla. Perfect.

We sat there for a couple of hours people watching and gazing at the beautiful architecture. This is just how I had imagined it.

union station

In the waiting room there is a piano that anybody is invited to play. This guy was obviously a professional as (fortunately) his playing was definitely melodious. I imagined he was a studio musician having his moment in the spotlight!

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Just looking around at the walls and ceiling from where we were sitting.

Los Angeles Plaza

It was hard to leave Union Station. Really I could have sat there all afternoon. But we needed to move on. We walked across the street to the Plaza area where people were dancing to a Latin beat.

Los Angeles Plaza

Then we watched as a group performed traditional Indian dances.

Methodist church

I’ve never been able to see inside the Plaza Methodist Church before. This was built in the 1920s. I learned that the Methodist church was the founding agent in Southern California for Goodwill Industries (where most of my unwanted “stuff” ends up).

We ambled through Olvera Street looking at the stalls and the stores. I’m always fascinated and intrigued by the Mexican goods available on this tourist street. No need to drive all the way to Tijuana!

Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles

We stepped across the street to Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles (Our Lady Queen of the Angels), the oldest existing church in LA, founded in 1781. The first Europeans, the Spanish, arrived in 1769. Everything changed!

Nuestra Senora

We couldn’t get into the main church. The door with the sign “Always Open” was locked. But I think the little chapel is much more interesting anyway.

Union Station

View of Union Station from La Plaza across the street

wilshire grand

The new Wilshire Grand which was “topped out” in March. It will replace the US Bank Building (Library Tower) as the tallest building West of Chicago. I’m sad about that but it had to happen one day.

I always appreciate the opportunity to show friends living in Los Angeles or visitors from faraway lands everything there is to see in this city. I have to say, it always amazes me how people who have lived here for decades, or were even born here, know so little about Los Angeles. But then it makes it so much more fun for me!

I’ve never trekked through the Amazon jungles or ridden a camel across the Saharan Desert, but I still consider myself to be an explorer. An urban explorer to be sure. But I certainly enjoy excavating every nook and cranny of my adopted city.

downtown los angeles

For those of you who know downtown, this is the newly re-opened The Bloc on 7th Street, across from the 7th Metro train hub, formerly the bricked-in enclave known as Macy’s Plaza

One interesting phenomena around Los Angeles these days is the redevelopment of the major shopping centers. At locations all over the city they are being transformed from closed-in fortresses to airy complexes open to the sky. What day did somebody wake up and say, hey, we have sunshine in LA, maybe customers could enjoy it while they are shopping!

Always worth peaking into Bottega Louie to salivate over the macaroons and other delightful pastries. No tasting now, just looking!

Our final destination in downtown this lovely afternoon was Clifton’s. As many times as I have been there since it’s re-opening, there is always one more soul who hasn’t visited yet. So I have to drag myself in there again.

Clifton's

We sat in the bar sipping an expensive glass of really bad Merlot. You don’t go there for the wine, evidently. But the ambience is definitely worth it as far as I am concerned. Another place I enjoy just sitting and people watching.

At this point B had a craving for apple pie à la mode. While I didn’t share that particular craving, we took the Expo Line back to Culver City and B drove her car over to the Marie Callender’s in West LA. As soon as I opened the menu my eyes were drawn to the tuna melt. The previous week with my other friend B (from England) I had a very disappointing tuna melt at what used to be my favorite restaurant on the Santa Monica Pier. I can no longer recommend it. But this tuna melt more than made up for it.

It was a happy ending to a beautiful day with a very good friend. What more can you ask for in life than that?

(Photos brought to you by my faithful point & shoot Canon G16 camera).

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