RMW: the blog

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


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Beauty around the neighborhood

As a member of the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California, I miss strolling through the acres of plants, trees and flowers during the closure. In the meantime I feel fortunate to live in a beautiful neighborhood where a lot of homeowners take their landscaping seriously. Last Saturday I took my 50mm fixed lens for a stroll along Braddock, looped around Carlson Park and back along Farragut… a little over 2 miles.

Here are the results:

When I first bought the 50mm (1.4) lens I thought I had made a mistake. I didn’t like being trapped in that focal length after being used to my go-to 18-135mm lens. But as usual, with the camera equipment I buy, I left it too long to return the lens. So I had to make the best of it. Now it’s my second favorite lens next to my zoom. It forces me to see everything from one perspective. I have to physically walk up to my subjects or back up to get the view I want. It’s a challenge I enjoy.

Within the next week or so I intend to retrace my footsteps with my 18-135mm lens and see what I can capture at the wide angle and telephoto ends. Of course when I walk the neighborhood I am safe. I am wrapped up from head to toe like a mummy. I am sure I look like the angel of death with a black hat, black face mask, scarf, wearing a high neck sweater and jacket, etc. I notice since I have been wearing my face mask people tend to distance themselves from me more often, which is fine with me!

During this strange time in our lives we need all the beauty we can get. I hope you can all step (safely) outside in your own neighborhoods to appreciate the gifts nature gives us.


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An eight and a half minute walk down the ramp at Culver City Park

With my knowledge of Los Angeles a friend suggested I should make short videos of the neighborhoods. I’m very new to making videos so I can only improve from here. This is a walk I did on March 22 at Culver City Park which is just a couple of blocks from my house at the end of the street. Right now I’m staying in my own neighborhood but when we get the all clear for the coronavirus lockdown I hope to be walking around other parts of LA. I did hardly any narration on this but I intend to talk about the architecture and history of the areas I visit.

 

Anyway, this is my first experiment. If you stand up and march in place you will get an 8.5 minute outdoor workout without leaving home!


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Japanese garden reopens

The Japanese Garden at the Huntington Library and Gardens reopened recently after a year-long renovation so a friend and I paid a visit.

And I always enjoy sauntering around the gardens finding little miscellaneous scenes to photograph.

Another brilliant day at the Huntington ends with an equally brilliant lunch… the Mexican chop salad:

 

 


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Santa Barbara – part two – by evening’s light

After freshening up at the hotel in Montecito (stay tuned for Part Three) we drove to the beach area. To be accurate, BG did all the driving. Thanks BG. As we strolled along Cabrillo Blvd we noticed this lovely restaurant patio. The menu looked good so decision made.

We ate dinner at Due Lune Ristorante-Bar. I ordered the Garden Party salad accompanied by the house red wine which was pretty decent. BG chose a pasta dish which looked very pretty in bright green.

We could easily have been in Sorrento, Italy! There was a nice view of Stearns Wharf, the beach and people passing by.

I love taking these Southern California getaways. We have so much to do and see in our own back yard!

It was such a gorgeous evening. The few occasions over the years when I’ve been in Santa Barbara as the sun is going down I have always been struck by the golden light as the mountains are bathed in a pink and purple glow.

Click on an image below to start the slide show:

On the walk back to the car this quirky abandoned mail box on the street caught my attention… I couldn’t just leave it standing there without taking a photograph!

 


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Santa Barbara – part one – a saunter through Lotusland


A friend and I drove up to Santa Barbara last week partly to visit Lotusland, which has been on my bucket list for a while, and partly to enjoy the city. Lotusland is actually located in Montecito, an affluent unincorporated community in Santa Barbara County, California, east of the City of Santa Barbara.


I first heard of Lotusland while visiting Santa Barbara for the Summer Solstice Festival in June, 2017. That was quite a different scene with thousands of people thronging the streets. Click here to view my blog post of that event.

Lotusland sits on 37 acres and unless you are a member you must walk through it on a tour with a docent.

It is billed as one of the top ten most beautiful gardens in the entire world. Well, it is very nice and I enjoyed the visit but I’m not sure I would go that far. Maybe we are spoiled for lovely gardens in Southern California but other gardens in other parts of the world spring to mind. Top 100 might be more realistic although I haven’t traveled enough to back that up! But it was worth seeing, for sure.


I took 240 photos during the walk and it was very hard to decide which ones to display… I could easily have included 100 in this post… but I decided to spare you and cut it down to a mere 56 with as much variety as possible… which means some of my favorites hit the cutting room floor… that hurt!

This turquoise glass slag lines the pathways… a very effective and beautiful border.

Lotusland contains about 21 different garden areas with more than 3,000 different plants from around the world. Please click on an image below to begin the slide show.

I’ll be uploading a couple more posts of our trip to the Santa Barbara area so stay tuned!


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Ventura Adventure

ventura city hall

Ventura City Hall

Ten of us adventurous souls met in Ventura for another exciting day. Seven of us took Amtrak from Los Angeles Union Station. The other three met us in Ventura.

Father Junipero Serra

I was out of bed at 3:45 to meet my friend at the bus stop at 6:15. The Expo Line was down for upgrading so we were stuck with the Metro #733 bus.

Father Junipero Serra looking out on the city of Ventura

It takes me two hours to get out of the house these days. Cleaning out the cat litter boxes, making the cat’s breakfast, watering my crops of tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, parsley, etc, making coffee, cooking breakfast, getting dressed, wandering around in a fog… it all takes time.

Ventura Botanical Gardens

I was ready to walk to the bus top by 5:45. It was beautiful walking through Culver City at that hour of the morning with only a couple of people walking their dogs and barely any traffic. So peaceful.

We arrived at Union Station with time to spare. I always like to be early instead of running at the last minute. As I always say, I would rather be two hours early than two minutes too late!

The Amtrak train left at 7:50am and we arrived in Ventura about 9:30. I LOVE traveling by train and Amtrak is soooooooo comfortable. It’s lovely to see the scenery go by from the top deck.

Our first stop was the Ventura Botanical Gardens.

The area was totally burned out in the Thomas fire of December 2017. But the gardens are being replanted and coming back quickly. You can still see the extent of the burned out areas.

The gardens are built on a hill with the option of switchback trails or stairs. I opted for the switchback. Whichever you chose there are some lovely views.

Plants are resilient and manage to grow in any situation.

Click on the first image below for a slide show:

After the hike up the hill we walked back through town towards the pier and lunch, always my favorite activity!

We ate at Beach House Fish. I ordered the wild snapper with mashed potatoes. I am a potato junkie… the way it is…

I thought this image represented the beach at Ventura!

Eating!

What a view as you eat your seafood lunch. Life is good.

After my delicious lunch I took a stroll along the pier. It’s a fishing pier.

Click on an image below for photos of the pier and views from the pier:

What a beautiful day we had with great friends!

Waiting for the Amtrak train back to Los Angeles.

 

 

 


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The UK – Worthing, Sussex – day five – the homestead

worthing

You might think I would be in a hurry to visit the old neighborhood right away. But I was enjoying getting the feel of Worthing first before making the trip over there.

worthing

I was now pretty familiar with the walk up to Worthing Station.

worthing

This was my first trip on a train since arriving in the UK. I had intended to travel by rail from London but that plan didn’t work out. And I had opted to take the bus for my journey from Worthing to Brighton two days before. So it was exciting to be on the Southern line as I LOVE traveling by train.

worthingMy destination was Durrington-on-Sea. When I was in high school I would travel by train between Durrington (where we lived) and the Worthing Station. I haven’t figured out the difference between towns designated as “on-sea” and those named “by-sea.” Durrington is about one mile from the sea front.

worthing

worthing

This is the street leading from the station. There certainly weren’t as many cars or as many buildings when I was walking home all those decades ago. It’s like another planet.

worthing

This pub was certainly there on the corner but I don’t recall if it was the Golden Lion back then.

worthing

The Strand Parade was our local shopping spot. My mother would send me to buy a loaf of bread or a can of beans. But for any big shopping we would take the bus or ride our bikes into Worthing.

worthing
Maybridge was the name of the elementary school I walked to. Now it’s called Orchards Community Middle School.

worthing

The bridge over the railway line at the end of Bolsover Road where we lived. My father rode his bike over this bridge to work every day. This bridge was the culprit in the decision to leave England and move to a warmer climate (which happened to be Florida). If my dad had just bought himself a car with a heater for the winter months, I believe we would have remained in Worthing!

worthing

The roundabout at the end of Bolsover Road. When I walked to Maybridge my cat Koko would follow me as far as the roundabout. I have memories of him meeting me there on the way back from school but that could be a fantasy, I’m not sure. I lived in Worthing from the age of approximately eight until twelve… so about five years. But they are the last years of my life I have a clear memory of until adulthood.

worthing

The Homestead. 45 Bolsover Road, Worthing, Sussex, UK. I began looking at The Homestead on Google Satellite about a year ago. And that spawned the idea of visiting Worthing. The house was brand new when we moved in. The area was newly developed in the mid 1950s.

worthing

There were no cars parked in the street back then. Each house had a tiny garage. But nowadays pretty useless to park a car in I suppose. We lived in the right hand side of the duplex or semi-detached house. This was, and probably still is, a pretty common configuration in England. You can see “our” side of the building is sporting a new roof! My bedroom was at the right side top with the small window. On summer evenings (when it was light until about 10:00pm) I would hang out of the window wishing I could be outside. I still vividly remember the wallpaper. Two walls with pink, highly patterned squares and the other two walls with a light grey background and pink dots.

worthingEvidently the Hosier’s live there now in my house. My mother (who was born in Argentina of British parents) named the house Mirasol (look at the sun). As none of the neighbors was familiar with Spanish, my mother recounted that they thought the name meant Miriam and Solomon and that we were Jewish. In fact, the neighbors on the left hand side were Jewish. And at the end of the street, lived a Catholic family. This is important to note because in the 1950s in Sussex, if not all of England, the population was primarily homogeneous: white, Anglo-Saxon, Christian, Protestant. That was us!

worthing

Looking back from the end of the street.

worthing

worthing

The walk from our house to Orchards MIddle (or Junior) School, formerly Maybridge Elementary, is a little over half a mile. I didn’t even need Google maps, the route was still in my head. It was like I had walked there yesterday.

worthing

This circular building is new (since my time).

worthingThis is the building I remember. Mr. Last was the last teacher I had at Maybridge before transfering to Worthing High School for Girls. I loved that man as a teacher. He was a kind soul. That final term I was the top student in my class. And I think that was the last time I really liked school… until AFTER I graduated from UCLA and started attending continuing education classes at UCLA Extension in my mid twenties!!!

worthing

I walked back to Bolsover Road and over the bridge on Shaftsbury Avenue. This was Goring Congregational Church where my mother forced me to go to Sunday School. It is now Goring United Reformed Church. Goring and Durrington are both districts (along with seven others) within the Borough of Worthing. As far as I remember, our address was always Worthing, not Durrington.

I kind of got the heebie jeebies as I was passing this building as I never really did grasp the idea of religion, much to my mother’s dismay.

worthing

Still walking on Shaftsbury Avenue on the way to the beach.

worthing

Here we are at the Worthing Sailing Club at the end of Sea Place. My mother and I would walk down to the beach on a summer evening (when there was no school) around nine o’clock… a less than half hour walk. The tide would be way way way out and we walked through the tide pools looking for sea anenomies and crabs. Life was good at that point in time. Would be nice to freeze it right there.

worthing

Looking east from Goring to downtown Worthing.

I walked along the sea front snapping random photos sucking up the sea air, reliving memories of life at the beach in Worthing. Click on an image for slide show:

I walked to Marine Gardens where I stopped for lunch. Fish ‘n chips and apple cider. I was soaking up the moment.

worthing

How wonderful life is! No matter what has gone before, I am thankful and fortunate to be here now. And in Worthing, no less!

worthing
worthing
It seems this seagull was attempting to impress his potential mate with a gift. If you look closely it is actually in the shape of a heart. Seagulls are not stupid.

I continued on with my walk towards Worthing Pier and my hotel. Click on image below for slide show:

I was intrigued by the custom of placing flowers on the benches. I saw this on multiple occasions. Very nice.

So Day Five’s adventure came to an end… and looking forward to Day Six!

 

 

 


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Feline Friday – #89 – take your cat hiking

Friday at Bryce

I’m tired of dog owners boasting that one of the benefits of a canine companion over a cat is that you can take the dog hiking. So I am advocating: take your cat hiking!

Several years ago I was on a hiking trip to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, USA. This is the image I created for my Christmas card that year.

The feline is my late, great cat Friday who passed away in 2013. You will note the sign requiring hiking boots, therefore he is wearing them. Also the sign specifies no dogs. Doesn’t say anything about cats!

 


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The UK – Worthing, Sussex – day two – Highdown Gardens

highdown gardens

My friend M and I met up on Tuesday morning at the Stagecoach bus stop near my hotel on Marine Parade. The #9 bus dropped us at Northbrook Metropolitan College. It was a short walk along the A259 to the Highdown turnoff and a pleasant trek up the hill to the gardens.

Highdown GardensFrom the Highdown Gardens website:

Highdown Gardens are nestled on the South Downs situated between Ferring and Goring.

These stunningly beautiful chalk gardens on Downland countryside, overlooking the sea, are a tranquil haven for all to enjoy. The gardens are home to The National Plant Collection of the Plant Introductions of Sir Fredrick Stern – a unique collection of plants and trees, with many unusual plants to be discovered all year round.

HIghdown Gardens

Highdown Gardens is one of the hidden gems of the area and home to a unique collection of rare plants and trees. In fact the whole garden has been deemed a National Collection.

The Gardens looks their best in spring and early summer when there is a colorful succession of spring bulbs such as Crocus, Daffodils, Anemones and Snowdrops followed by Paeonies and Bearded Iris.

As we were there the second week in May this was an ideal time to see the gardens at their best.

HIghdown Gardens

The gardens, internationally important because they are home to hundreds of rare and exotic plants and trees uniquely grown on chalk soil, are visited by tens of thousands of people every year.

HIghdown Gardens

Worthing Borough Council owns and maintains the gardens which are free to visitors.

HIghdown Gardens

Sir Frederick Stern created his gardens during a period when many expeditions were going out to China and the Himalayan regions collecting rare and beautiful plants. Many of the original plants from their early collections can still be seen in the Gardens today.

HIghdown Gardens

Sir Frederick received his knighthood in 1956 for Services to Horticulture.

HIghdown Gardens

The 8.5 acres of Gardens were created out of an old chalk pit overlooking the South Downs, where there was little soil and very unfavorable conditions for plant growth.

HIghdown Gardens

I really lucked out and experienced Southern California weather all the time I was in Worthing, except for half a day when it rained. The weather on our visit to Highdown was sunny and warm. Very pleasant for walking around.

HIghdown Gardens

The tadpoles were enjoying a school outing on this beautiful day!

HIghdown Gardens

And this little red fellow came along to say hello.

Click on an image below to enjoy the slideshow!

After such a feast for the senses it was time to fill our tummies so we headed to the Tea Rooms.

HIghdown Gardens

HIghdown Gardens

I chose the Ploughmen’s Lunch and M ordered Welsh Rarebit.

HIghdown Gardens

Such a delightful afternoon. We walked back to the bus stop through the fields.

HIghdown Gardens


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A gift membership to the Huntington Library

The Huntington

A friend very kindly gave me a membership to The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, approximately 20 miles (32km) northeast of Culver City and 13 miles (21km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. So as it was such a glorious day on Wednesday in the 70s (21+C) and sunny, I decided to make the trip.

My first stop to take a photo was at a fountain in the California Garden area. Two little girls were playing with the water. One was wearing a bright pink dress and the other was in blue. The reflection of these dresses in the water gave me the colors at the right hand side of the image. I’m sure the mother thought I was trying to capture pictures of her kids so I did my best to make it obvious I was only interested in the fountain. I took several shots but the one I liked the best was out of focus so I decided to play with it in Photoshop and make an abstract image out of it!

The Huntington

The Huntington

Now I have a membership I didn’t feel the need to rush around to every part of the gardens or visit the galleries as I can come back whenever I feel like it! So I just walked around looking for flowers and plants and scenes that struck my fancy.

The Huntington

I set my camera on Aperture Preferred (AV on my Canon) which is now my preferred setting! For a long time I set it to Program as the default and changed the aperture and shutter speed as necessary. But now I believe AV is better.



The Huntington
I know there are “purists” who scoff at anything other than strictly Manual. Good for them! I talked to one professional landscape/street  photographer who told me his dirty secret that 95% of the time he stayed in Program and let the camera do the work. It’s like painting. Anybody can take a brush and make a mess on a canvas. But it takes an artist to make something beautiful.

Walking towards the Desert Garden



The Huntington

Whether you are using a paintbrush or a camera, you still have to have an “eye.” I have a friend who owns all kinds of camera equipment but has no sense of composition. that’s the most important element.



The Huntington
So it doesn’t matter if you are shooting in Manual or Program or Aperture Preferred or with a point & shoot camera or a smart phone. If you capture a good picture, that’s the only thing that matters.



The Huntington
For me, walking around with a camera forces me to see things I probably wouldn’t notice otherwise. Today I was on my own. But I also enjoy going out with a friend because they might spot something I missed and vice versa.



The Huntington
The other issue that comes up is post processing. I happen to enjoy working in Lightroom and Photoshop. You can’t start out with a crappy photo and make it into a masterpiece on the computer. Ain’t gonna happen. But you start out with a well-composed, in focus, reasonably well-lit image and there is a chance you can make that into a masterpiece! I shoot in RAW so all my images have to go through Lightroom (or Camera RAW) anyway.



The Huntington
My favorite part of the grounds is the Desert Garden so I pretty much concentrated on that area. Next time I may avoid it completely! I was attempting to get some closeups and some general views. My favorite lens is my 18-135 zoom. It’s a kit lens and if I ever want to upgrade I am out of luck as there apparently is no stand alone lens in those lengths. But I’ll worry about that when I get there.



The Huntington

I’m hoping I can choose a couple of these to upload to Fine Art America where I have my portfolio. This one above might be a candidate.



The Huntington

The Desert Garden includes more than 5,000 species of desert plants in sixty landscaped beds. I don’t want to be the one to count them.



The Huntington

The weather was unbelievably pleasant. Cool and sunny is my favorite. I remember one visit to the Desert Garden when it had to be 100  degrees F (38C) and I couldn’t get enough water inside me. I’m sure all the cacti and succulents were having a great day!

The Huntington

I’ve never seen so many lizards cross my path. They must have liked the weather too and decided to come out for a stroll. One after the other they were darting out in front of me. No fear of humans.



The Huntington

I took almost 250 pictures this day! Lucky for you I won’t show all of them! But there are 42 in this post.


The Huntington

Unbelievable that it is necessary to post a sign reminding visitors not to carve their names or initials on the bamboo. Aaaargh…. people!

Click on an image below to see slide show of the rest of the photos, if you even made it this far!

See one of my previous posts about The Huntington here.