RMW: the blog

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


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Train’s a-comin’ – all the way to the beach

expo line

When the Culver City station of the Expo Line light rail opened June 28, 2012 my late friend TL and I were passengers on the first day. You can see my post about that event here. Having grown up riding the trains in England, being able to ride the rails to downtown LA was a dream come true.

This past Friday, May 20, 2016, the second half of that dream also became a reality. The long-awaited stretch from Culver City to Santa Monica can now be traversed by train. And how could I ever guess I would be living within walking distance (one mile) of two train stations, Culver City and Palms!

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I met my friend R at the 7th St. Metro Center, as far east as the Expo Line goes. He took the Blue Line which also ends at the Metro Center. Together we took the Purple Line to MacArthur Park and ate an early lunch at Langer’s Deli where I always order the kippers and scrambled eggs.

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Expo Line arriving at the beach with the new “Santa Monica” header.

We were back at the 7th Metro station in time to take the second train to Santa Monica. I believe the first one left the station at 11:25 am and we were there about 11:35. It was so strange to see the train pull up with the Santa Monica header instead of Culver City… I am rather sad about that!

By the time the train arrived at Culver City the train was jammed to the gills and no possible way for any other passengers to board. I was so glad I met my friend in downtown LA instead of attempting to meet him at Culver City. Even though the train was packed, people still insisted on squeezing their way through the doors. It was insane!

expo line

expo line

Palms Station on the Expo Line. One of two stations within walking distance from my house.

I was afraid the overpasses would collapse with the weight or that the train would be too heavy to move. As it was, it did go rather slowly around the curves through West LA. The first new station after Culver City was Palms. I’ve been watching this station being constructed and it was cool to actually be stopping there.

expo line

When we arrived at the Downtown Santa Monica station passengers were cheering and clapping. I have to admit I was thrilled! It was history in the making as the last time a train arrived in Santa Monica from downtown LA was 63 years ago in 1953.

expo line

When the train doors opened it was like arriving on a new planet with everybody eager to explore.

expo line

People just kept coming and coming and coming off the train.

expo line

The train stops just a few blocks from the Santa Monica Pier. You can just see the entrance to the pier at the end of Colorado Blvd. in the center of the photo.

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When it was time to go back, they had things a little better organized. They had lines set up just like at Disneyland and they were allowing only so many people on the train at a time.
expo line

This was certainly a day I will never forget!

expo line

Click here for post about my second ride to the beach on Sunday.

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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Triple art treat in Tujunga

katherine kean

Photo copyright Barbara Golbin

McGroarty Arts Center in Tujunga held its inaugural Artist Studios Tour on Saturday, June 27, 2015. Two artist friends who live in that area were participating by opening their home studios to the public. So my friend B and I decided to drive out there to be supportive.

As my car, AKA Cinnamon Girl, spends most of her life sitting in the garage I knew she would enjoy the 70-mile round trip (northeast of Culver City). We’ve been having unusually muggy weather on the Westside and as we were leaving Culver City around 1:00pm CG’s windshield was splattered with rain drops. In our terrible drought we will take every drop!

Our first stop was at Katherine Kean’s studio. (Photo above). She has a beautiful home nestled in the hills with lovely views all around. There is a lot to be said for living out in the “boonies.” As a die-hard city girl, even I can appreciate the call of the wilds!

I did take my DSLR with me but for whatever reason l left it in the car. Fortunately, my companion thought to whip out her iPhone to snap a picture of Katherine standing in front of one of her pieces. (Tweaked and cropped just a little in Lightoom by moi.) I’ve followed Katherine’s career for many years and seen her artwork evolve. I’ve always been a big fan.

Katherine comes across as a serene person and her paintings match her personna.

I encourage you to click on this link to her website.

Katherine was generously sharing her space with another artist, Rosanna Norton. I’ve met Rosanna on a couple of occasions previously but never seen any of her artwork. I wasn’t expecting her or her art to be at Katherine’s house so this was icing on the cake .

rosanna norton

Photo copyright Barbara Golbin

All I can say is that I immediately got the connection between Rosanna and her expressive work as her artwork matches her colorful personality. (And clothing!). What a nice surprise.

Click here for Rosanna’s website.

Last, but certainly not least, we drove over to Melissa Reischman’s home studio.

melissa reischman

Photo copyright Barbara Golbin.

I have a certain affinity with abstract art. The lack of immediately identifiable subject matter allows my imagination to run wild. I’ve also had the good fortune to see Melissa’s work over the years. She is always experimenting. I happen to love her latest series of black and white drawings such as the five at the top of this photo. Black holes, electricity… all kinds of powerful images come to mind.

Visit Melissa’s website here.

It’s no secret I love art! As I have often said, I even like art that I don’t like! But it’s even better when I feel an emotional connection with the art I am viewing. That certainly was the case on Saturday.

I believe there may have been twenty artists on the Tujunga open studio tour but I have a short attention span, and in any case, we had planned to only visit Katherine and Melissa. My brain had taken in all it could at that point and we headed back to civilization… I mean Culver City!!!

B and I often end up at the same restaurants when we have dinner together. Even though we do try to think up new places, there is nothing as comforting as the tried and true. One of these is The Original Thai BBQ of Culver City on the corner of Venice Blvd and Clarington Ave where we ate dinner Saturday evening. It’s off the beaten track and not as glitzy as the eateries in downtown Culver City. I usually order tofu and a mixed veggie curry. Mmmmm, I could eat that right now for breakfast!

I know Katherine and Melissa are often exhibiting their work in art shows around the LA area. So look for their names and check out their work in person when you have the opportunity. And say hello for me…

All content copyright roslyn m wilkins except where 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!


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Holy Cross Cemetery: looking at trees

It’s no secret that walking is my favorite form of exercise. It used to be riding my bicycle. That was a different period of my life when I enjoyed hurtling along the bike path feeling the ocean air against my face. It was a feeling of joyous freedom and I couldn’t imagine ever giving it up.

culver city holy cross trees

The day came, due to numerous injuries, mostly from running, I had to surrender my bicycle. But I don’t mind. I’ve always enjoyed walking anyway.

It's no secret that walking is my favorite form of exercise. It used to be riding my bicycle. That was a different period of my life when I enjoyed hurtling along the bike path feeling the ocean air against my face. It was a feeling of joyous freedom and I couldn't imagine ever giving it up.Walking is a whole different spiritual experience from riding a bike or running. It slows everything down and allows for an in-depth inspection and appreciation of the world. culver city holy cross treesNow that I am “back” into photography…. not that I ever really left… riding a bike or running doesn’t correlate with carrying a camera. I enjoy stopping and looking. Really looking at the details.

culver city holy cross trees

On Sunday I was a little down for various reasons… I didn’t have any plans (which is not a bad thing) but I couldn’t shake the feelings of doom and gloom hanging over me. I had various choices: stay in bed all day, time how long it would take to consume a whole bottle of vodka, binge-watch episodes of a TV show on Netflix… you get the picture… nothing hit me as being satisfying.

culver city holy cross trees

I know the best medicine for me is always to get dressed, pick up the camera and go outside for a walk. As I needed to take care of some errands that required driving my car (most of the time she sits in the garage while I take public transportation) I decided I might as well visit Holy Cross Cemetery, a short drive from my house in Culver City. I used to live within a short walk but now it’s really too much of a haul on foot, even for an intrepid walker like myself.

culver city holy cross trees

Not to seem too morbid but I enjoy the peace and solitude of the cemetery. It is beautifully landscaped with some good views of the mountains, ocean, etc. No matter what kind of crazy mood I am in I always leave there feeling glad to be alive. Grateful I am above ground and not under it.

culver city holy cross trees

On other days I’ve taken pictures of the landscape, the views and the grave stones. On this day I had my 60mm macro lens on my camera. There are some amazing tree trunks in the cemetery so I decided to concentrate on those.

culver city holy cross trees

I appreciate abstract art. Mother Nature seems to enjoy it too.

culver city holy cross treesTree trunks provide a never-ending variety of abstract patterns and designs.

culver city holy cross trees

I never tire of looking at them. And as I didn’t have to be anywhere in particular I was able to take my time standing and staring at these wonderful works of art.

culver city holy cross trees

Whenever I spend time at Holy Cross I tell myself I must come back more often. And then I don’t. But I know it is always waiting there to offer an oasis in the midst of a harried day.

culver city holy cross trees

Okay, I must come back more often!

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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A surprise garden on a Culver City street corner

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Garden at Beatrice and Mesmer, Culver City

Whenever I drop my car off at Modesti’s on Jefferson Blvd. in Culver City I like to walk home when I have the time. It takes me over an hour to make the 3.7-mile journey, as although I walk pretty fast, I like to stop and look at stuff along the way.

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Culver City garden at Beatrice and Mesmer

One nice surprise a few weeks ago was stumbling upon a community garden at Mesmer and Beatrice.

culver-city-garden-at-beatrice-and-mesmer

A little oasis at Beatrice and Mesmer

This could be a very bleak corner across the street from the intersection of the Marina and San Diego freeways and overlooking the concrete walls of a Ballona Creek tributary.

culver-city-garden-at-beatrice-and-mesmer overlooking creek

Community garden at Beatrice and Mesmer overlooking creek

Instead, there is a color palette of reds, purples, yellows, rusts and greens welcoming the weary pedestrian into a small plot of land containing trees, bushes and flowers, maybe to rest for a while on the garden bench before continuing on.

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Garden bench for the weary traveler

I wonder if anybody racing by in a car even knows this is here.

(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)


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Poinsettias are not just in pots

culver city poinsettias

Poinsettias in Culver City

I always have several poinsettias in the house at the holidays. I no longer bother with a Christmas tree (I display my Dickens Village instead, which is a whole other story) but I gotta have those poinsettias. My favorite is still the traditional lush red. But I also indulge in the new varieties.

This year I gave my mother a red with yellow speckles. I also bought a white poinsettia that I am looking at now in my upstairs office. A plant with leaves of red on the perimeter and pink in the center adorns my coffee table in the living room.

The traditional red I always buy met a fate too horrible to think about. The recent windstorm which caused a huge power blackout over much of the Los Angeles area also claimed the poinsettia I had placed at the bottom of the steps outside my front door. I opened the door to find my neighbor was cradling it in his arms like a baby. I was going to rescue my plant, I said. I think it’s too late, he replied.

He was right. I put what was left in six vases but they wilted the next day. 

culver city poinsettias

culver city poinsettias

But as the title of this blog says, poinsettias are not just in pots. In my walks around my neighborhood in Culver City I discovered this beautiful poinsettia tree growing in a yard. I like to think this started out as a Christmas poinsettia given as a gift. Why not? One of my poinsettias lasted three years but I had to put it down due to some kind of blight. It was sad.

culver city poinsettias up close and personal

culver city poinsettias up close and personal

The first time I met a poinsettia was in Florida. My parents and I had just arrived from England. We attended a party at somebody’s house. They had a bright pool anteroom filled with pots of poinsettias they had collected over the years. There was no need to take a photo as decades later that scene is emblazened in my mind.

My favorite place to buy poinsettias is at Armstrongs Garden Center in Westchester just south of Culver City. I buzz over there around Thanksgiving every year as they have the best selection for the best prices in my humble opinion.

  


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Jacaranda trees on view in the streets of Culver City

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Jacaranda tree with bougainvillea on Duquesne Avenue, Culver City

When I bought my first house in Mar Vista (the west side of Los Angeles) in the month of November I was ecstatic because we had jacaranda trees on the street. As my husband occupied the garage with his hobbies and his car, I parked on the street. By April I was not so ecstatic. My car was covered with purple splotches that only the most expensive car wash could eradicate. I still loved the beautiful jacarandas but no more parking in the street.

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Jacaranda on Duquesne near Braddock, Culver City

Now I live in Culver City and am delighted to have the trees on my street. With jacaranda trees you have to take the good with the bad. The good, of course, is the wondrous sight of those magnificent purple flowers. The bad is that the flowers drop on the ground, or whatever happens to be nearby, and leave their mark to announce they were there. I wish my hair color lasted as long as a jacaranda stain! No, I’m really not quite ready for purple hair.

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Jacaranda at Braddock and Duquesne, Culver City

I understand that where the jacaranda trees originated (in South America, like Argentina and Brazil) the color is more on the blue side. I prefer the purple as it is one of my favorite colors.  After all, it’s part of our cultural experience.  Jimi Hendrix’ Purple Haze, the English rock band Deep Purple and the movie The Color Purple are some examples. And because purple was so difficult and expensive to produce in ancient and medieval times it has always been associated with Emperors and Royalty.

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Jacarandas at City Hall, Culver City

Right now the jacarandas in Los Angeles are at their best. My tour goers from outside of California ask about the trees as they are not familiar with these purple wonders. As the tour bus drives over the overpasses there are lovely views of the tops of the trees, especially in West Los Angeles.

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Downtown Culver City, restaurant row, Culver Blvd. with jacarandas

Like many other trees and plants that enjoy our climate, jacarandas are not native to the area. Apparently a horticulturalist named Kate Sessions opened a plant nursery in San Diego’s Balboa Park in 1892 and was the first to plant them.

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Culver City Police Station with jacaranda and palm trees

Yesterday I walked around my neighborhood, which happens to be the downtown Culver City area, and I took some photos so you can see what I see every day out on the street.

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View from Culver Park looking down Duquesne Avenue with jacaranda trees

(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)


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West Los Angeles College walk through the new entrance on Jefferson Blvd

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New entrance to West Los Angeles College on Jefferson Blvd.

Driving along Jefferson Boulevard for the past couple of years between Overland Avenue and Duquesne Avenue on my way home I have been eagerly watching the progress of the new entrance to West Los Angeles College at, appropriately enough, College Boulevard. By the time it opened last year I had sprained my ankle and was not able to walk long distances. I’ve waited long enough for that ankle to heal, and as it doesn’t seem like it is ever going to, I decided to break out my cane and toddle on over there.

Before I moved into my current abode I lived at Lakeside Village which was a mere hop and a skip around the corner from the college. The campus is built on a hill and I often enjoyed an early morning sprint around the perimeter road. From where I live now the Overland entrance is more than a half hour walk with another half hour around the college, so I never made the effort. The new “back” entrance is a mere ten-minute trot up the street. It’s all about perception as by coming at the main part of the campus from this entrance I am actually walking the same distance. It just seems more pleasant walking inside the campus rather than on the street.

Ballona Creek bikepath gates with mural

Ballona Creek bikepath gates with mural

All the streets in Culver City are turned around. What you might think is north is actually more west and conversely, what appears to be south is easterly. If you were going to walk this route you would probably park somewhere along Jefferson Boulevard. For the sake of argument I am beginning this walk at the top of Duquesne Avenue. So you might as well walk north (west) a few yards to Ballona Creek. On the north (west) side you will see a beautifully designed iron-wrought gate beyond which is a painted and tiled mural entitled Rivers of the World. To the south (east) is a stainless steel sculpture, Crossed Currents, in the shape of a vase. In this blog I’m not going into detail over any artwork, merely listing what you can see. As you walk back towards Jefferson you will pass the City of Culver City Transportation and Purchasing building.

Culver City Park (and Bill Botts Field) is at the south (east) side of Jefferson and Duquesne. But that is another blog. Let’s walk west on the south (east) side of Jefferson past the grassy, tree-shaded picnic area. On the right hand side of the street are the studios of NPR (National Public Radio) West where many years ago I had the privilege of listening to a talk by Alex Chadwick, the host of the much-missed Day to Day.

Skate boarding park on Jefferson Boulevard

Skate boarding park on Jefferson Boulevard, Culver City

On the south (east) side is the skateboard park built with taxpayer money to, presumably and unsuccessfully, keep skateboarders from destroying every other built object in town. Next is Storage Solutions designed to look like a mansion with a nice fountain in the well-landscaped front yard. (This is not a commercial but I did rent a storage unit there for a few months.)

And, finally, yes, we have arrived at the new Jefferson entrance to West Los Angeles College with an equally new planting of palm trees. Now, I love to see palm trees in Los Angeles and one day intend to write a blog on just that subject. But I know how expensive they are and that in some areas when they die out they are being replaced with other kinds of cheaper trees such as oaks. Just saying.

On Sundays there is a gate closing the road to traffic but intrepid walkers have no trouble passing through. Parts of Culver City, especially in the hilly areas, are still working oil fields. To the east you will see “pterodactyl” oil derricks. That is what they look like to me and probably pumping the same slimy stuff that was forming when those creatures roamed the earth.

College Boulevard: New entrance road into West LA College

College Boulevard: New entrance road into West LA College, Culver City

I wasn’t timing it but I am guessing it is a good fifteen minute walk along College Boulevard to the east side of the main campus. I am not a horticulturist or even a gardener, so I don’t know the name of the plants bordering both sides of the sidewalk. To my uneducated eye they look like some kind of wild narcissus with long spiky leaves and tiny pale yellow flowers. A wall taller than me follows the sidewalk all along on the right hand side so there is no view of what may be lurking on the other side. Further down as the road curves around the wall opens up to a chain link fence and all that is visible behind it is dirt, grass and a small pond of muddy water.

All the way along on the left hand side is the hillside decorated with utility poles and more pterodactyls among the trees, bushes and grass. I didn’t see another soul on this part of the walk and I was wishing I didn’t waste so much of my life watching American and British TV murder mysteries.

At this point the main campus comes into view. Some aircraft used for aviation classes are parked. Turning left at the bottom of the road and proceeding up the hill on Sophomore Drive other people and dogs join in the walk. This is a popular spot for joggers, pooches walking their humans and cyclists who like the uphill struggle with a fast descent. In my cycling days this was a good workout.

There is a considerable amount of construction going on at the college. Several new buildings are on the schedule along with the refurbishing of existing structures. You can peek at some of this through the chain link fence. There is a LOT of chain link fence on this campus which makes it look more like a prison camp than a college.

West Los Angeles College walk

West Los Angeles College walk

At the top of the hill the road turns right. Here there are some arched utility poles that look like a huge art installation. Walking down the hill there used to be a beautiful view of the city and ocean but now, after complaints from residents about the construction noise and dust, there is baffling all the way down blocking the view. The construction is supposed to be completed by 2013 so I will just have to grit my teeth and wait like everybody else. However, it is still a nice walk looking at the campus on the right hand side.

West Los Angeles College walk at Overland

West Los Angeles College walk at Overland

At the bottom of the hill the choice is to turn left and exit the campus on to Overland Avenue or turn right and walk along Freshman Drive. On the left hand side of Freshman normally there is a view of the backside of the condo complexes Lakeside Villas, Lakeside Village, Tara Hills and Raintree built in the 1970s on land that was once the MGM lot. But currently there is more of the ugly baffling. On the right is the baseball field, some parking areas and the football field. Another right turn onto Sophomore leads back to College Boulevard and the walk back to Jefferson and home (for me, anyway!).

A very rough estimate of this round trip walk is approximately three miles. A map of the West Los Angeles College campus can be found at http://www.wlac.edu/wlac2phone/employees/ShowEmployeesmap.aspx and an area map at http://www.wlac.edu/mapdirectory/maps_directions.html

For a photo gallery click here.

(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)


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Stepping up to Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook from my deck

For a couple of years I watched the construction of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook visitor center and adjacent buildings from my roof deck. At first I was very concerned about the natural line of the hill being destroyed. I have seen too many beautiful hilltops around southern California ruined by construction. And although I am not ever in favor of building anything on the crest of a hill, my fears were somewhat ameliorated when the job was far enough along to see the roofs of the buildings. The visitor center and surrounding edifices look like giant butterflies are resting on the top of the hill. So I guess I can live with it!

Part of the California State Parks system, the overlook opened in April 2009 and since then I’ve visited several times by car and on foot. When showing other people the splendors afforded by the park I drive and park in the lot behind the visitor center ($6). When on my own I go on foot.

The entrance on Jefferson Boulevard is a less than fifteen-minute walk from my home. There are various choices for walking to the top. Several times I have walked up the main road, which is the easiest route, although it is very steep and you have to watch for cars careening down the hill.

Each time I visit I am amazed, and pleased, that so many people have discovered the park and are not merely driving to the top for the view, but are using the steep hills for exercise.

Probably about halfway up

Today I decided to be a little more adventurous: I took the steps. All I can say is I am very glad I took along my third leg, my trusty walking stick. I’m not sure how many steps there are. I believe just before I reached the top there was a plaque with the number 375 on it, but I was so exhausted by then I could be mistaken. It certainly felt more like a thousand!

The part of the hill where the stairway is built is extremely steep and it goes straight up. The steps are uneven and some are so high that because of my various knee and hip injuries I could not have gotten my foot up without the stick. A couple of times I thought about calling 911 to send a rescue helicopter but after catching my breath for a few seconds at various intervals, I persevered to the top.

As I reached the last step two young women were starting their descent. “You are awesome,” one commented. All I could do was laugh and reply this was my first and last attempt up the steps. “No, you have to do it again… you are an inspiration!” she said. The other lady added, “I saw you at the bottom and when I looked back I couldn’t believe how fast you were coming up.” Oh well, flattery goes a l-o-n-g way with me, so maybe I will attempt it again! There is also a steep, but winding trail that works its way up, intersecting the stairs at several locations. So next time I will try that.

Looking down from top. Note teeny vehicles at bottom!

The walk up is always worth it as this must be the most fantastic scenery in all of LA (without a helicopter). From the five hundred eleven-foot peak you have a front-row view of downtown and beyond, the mountains, the ocean, and everything in between. It is truly breathtaking.

Looking towards downtown LA

The visitor center is staffed by friendly volunteers and offers a plethora of information about the area.

And once again I realize how fortunate I am to be able to walk out my front door and enjoy such a smorgasbord of interesting places to walk.

Website: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=22790

Map of park: http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/612/files/bhso%20simple%20map.pdf

(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)


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Walking with the Dead

View from Holy Cross Cemetery

I lived in Culver City at least six or seven years before venturing inside. I drove past the gates a gazillion times on my way to and from the freeway. I said to myself, I must look in there someday. But this day I had to get home. I had things to do. I didn’t have the time. And so the years passed—and I passed on by.

I don’t even remember the first time I decided to make the effort to visit, but it must have made an impression as I have been going back ever since, and for over fifteen years Holy Cross Cemetery has been one of my favorite Culver City walks. My suggestion to walk around the cemetery sometimes meets with strange reactions, but everybody who has walked with me has agreed that it is indeed a spectacular place to spend some time.

Although I do like to glance at the gravestones and read the inscriptions as I walk by (after all, that is why this beautiful park exists), because the stones lie flat in the ground, the ambience is more like a beautifully coiffed golf course than a typical graveyard.

The cemetery sits on gently rolling hills with vistas of the ocean and mountains. Although “gently rolling” can be a misnomer when you are on foot as some of the grades can be quite steep. Slowly trudging upwards on a hot day when I am gasping for air, I have had drivers stop to offer me a ride to the top, especially on the days when I need to use my cane. I always have to explain, thank you, but I’m doing this for fun!

The cemetery is landscaped with plenty of trees providing homes and snacks for the squirrels and birds. Often I have seen red-tailed hawks circling above. On one unfortunate day I saw a hawk dive into a tree followed by white feathers scattered into the air and a squawking bird being carried off in the hawk’s claws—the cycle of life and death.

White marble statues of saints or members of the holy family are placed at various intervals around the park, adding to the feeling of peace and harmony. Even when I’m having a particularly chaotic day, as soon as I enter the grounds, all my frustrations and anxieties are washed away. Sometimes I have to force myself to get in my car and make the three-mile drive, but in the end it is always worthwhile—a better choice than drugs or alcohol for a mood change!

 

Christmas Decorations

My favorite time of year to visit Holy Cross is around the Christmas holidays. This is a Catholic cemetery and celebrating the birth of Christ is an important event. It seems that nearly every grave is decorated elaborately, as if the occupants are about to spring up and join in the festivities. Everything from fully-dressed Christmas trees to nativity scenes to tinsel and poinsettia plants embellish the grave sites.

More Christmas Decorations

 

At other times in the year, fresh flowers are abundant. I often see families with folding chairs and sun umbrellas sitting around the graves of their loved ones. In this cemetery, no-one is merely buried and forgotten but remains a functioning member of the family.

There are two special locations where I like to stop and contemplate. The first is the lily pond near the Slauson entrance. Turtles and Koi fish live in peace and harmony there. If you approach very, very, very silently some of the turtles will remain in their sun-worshipping positions on the rocks, but mostly they will slip into the security of the water and dog (turtle?) paddle until the intruder has passed.

The second special location is the grotto at the top of the hill, up the road from the pond. A small crucifix statue is usually surrounded by lit candles. I like to take a minute or two to be grateful for whatever comes into my mind to be grateful for at that moment.

Many years ago when I hit a particularly bad patch in my life and was in a lot of inner turmoil, I picked a gravestone at the top of a hill under a shady tree with a view of the Santa Monica Mountains and Pacific Ocean. For many months I talked to the occupant of the grave who was only in his mid-forties when he died in the mid-sixties, although I had no idea who he was, and told him my troubles. It was comforting to me to have somebody to talk to who was completely non-judgmental and did nothing but “listen.” I was able to work out a lot of issues with his assistance. Then my life moved on and I didn’t visit for several years. The next time I saw his grave he had been joined by his wife and I was happy for him.

It was only recently that I googled Holy Cross Cemetery and discovered a great secret. All these years I have been enjoying my walks without knowing that many of Hollywood’s most famous citizens are interred there. Apparently if you are a movie star and Catholic, that is the place to spend eternity—not a bad choice. I haven’t tracked down any of the plots or crypts yet, but some of the names you might recognize are Bing Crosby, Rita Hayworth, Charles Boyer, John Candy, and Bela Lugosi. (You can find other Hollywood luminaries buried at this cemetery by clicking here.)

So whether chasing down famous names or just out for a stroll on a sunny day, if you decide to visit Holy Cross Cemetery and you see a lady slogging up the hill leaning on her walking stick, feel free to wave, but please don’t offer me a ride!

Holy Cross Cemetery
5835 W. Slauson Ave.
Culver City, CA 90230