RMW: the blog

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


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Peacocks prancing in the park

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

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

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

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

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

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

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

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

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

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

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

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

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

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

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

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

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

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Eucalyptus deglupta Mindanao gum showing off its rainbow bark.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

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

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

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

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

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Even the Arboretum is not free of exotic bugs!

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Effects of the drought on these trees.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

The once beautiful ponds are also ravaged by the drought.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

But this turtle family doesn’t seem to mind!

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

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

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

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

Click on an image below to start the slide show.

The Arboretum even has its own song!

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


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Easter Sunday and a change of plans

culver boulevard culver city

“Over the Rainbow” peering over jacaranda trees at Sony Pictures Entertainment

Today I was supposed to take the Expo Line to the Red Line to the Orange Line to visit a friend in Northridge (that’s on the Valley side of Los Angeles, over or under the Santa Monica Mountains depending on how you look at it). But not to be. My friend texted me at midnight to tell me she had a plumbing emergency and to hang tight. I was still awake so I texted her back to let her know I got the message.

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“Over the Rainbow” seen behind the Irving Thalberg building at Sony Pictures Entertainment

I fell asleep and one of the cats woke me up at 3:40am. I saw there was another message from her telling me to call her before 8:00am (when I was supposed to leave the house) as she wasn’t sure what time the plumber could be there or what the problem was. So I went back to sleep knowing that I could stay in bed until at least 7:00am if I wanted to (and the cats would let me). Lovely.

Turns out she had a serious problem with some 1950s pipes under her house. I won’t go into all the murky details but evidently it was going to be a big project. So we decided to reschedule.

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Better view of “Over the Rainbow”

Okay, what to do. I am not very good at changing plans and making new decisions. My brain gets stuck in a groove and that is that. When I think of all the opportunities at my door, what I decided to do instead was admittedly mundane.

I decided to treat myself to a Smashburger Black Bean Burger with a side of Veggie Frites and Sweet Potato Fries for lunch. The nearest Smashburger is a 25-minute walk from my house one way so that was my excuse to get out of the house on this beautiful day.

I have a choice of several walking routes to get to Culver Center but as I needed to drop off my Netflix movie (The Imitation Game) at the post office I decided to walk down Culver Boulevard.

I took a few random photos along the way. The first three photos above are all of the “Rainbow” sculpture installed on the Sony Pictures Entertainment lot. I prefer to call it “Over the Rainbow” but that’s evidently not it’s official name. Sony now sits in the space that was originally Metro Goldwyn Meyer, the greatest movie studio of them all where “The Wizard of Oz” was made in the 1930s. So, of course, the rainbow pays homage to that movie.

culver boulevard culver city

A side street along the way. Walking beneath that archway of trees is like being in the forest… except for the cars!

I’m always fascinated by the seeds and/or fruit on the palm trees which look a lot like tree dreadlocks. It is a beautiful display.

This is my favorite apartment building in the neighborhood. It is a lovely example of maybe 50s or 60s apartment architecture with a circular glass lobby, swordfish sculpture and decorative circles in the stucco and fencing. The building you can see across the street is another view of the Thalberg building.

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A result of our weird weather. Jacarandas usually show their gorgeous purple blooms in May/June. But this year we saw some of the trees flowering as early as March and some that have not yet flowered at all. Everybody is confused.

culver boulevard culver city

I love this clock by the artist Terry Allen. I think the name is Golden Time (too lazy to look it up). I always tell people this is how I felt before I quit corporate life… dragging a huge clock around on my shoulders waiting for each working day to end! This poor guy hangs out on the corner of the Fred Astaire Building, built during the golden age of MGM.

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Looking back at the Fred Astaire building and what I have labeled the ziggurat building, the mid 1980s Sony building at the end.

culver boulevard culver city

Orchid Fever is a great place to spend some time with more than 10,000 square feet of greenhouses filled with thousands of orchid plants, hundreds of bromeliads, and a wide variety of other tropical and exotic plants. When you walk in from the street it is like being transported to some magical jungle.

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Another tree-lined side street.

culver boulevard culver city

Sony is constantly building… this is apparently a new parking garage going up. I would prefer they would have less parking spaces for their employees and give them incentives to ride public transportation. There is too much traffic in Culver City already without encouraging more.

culver boulevard culver city

So how much do you pay for gas? The price goes up and down like a yo yo. I don’t drive that much anymore so it really doesn’t matter to me but I don’t even bother to check the prices. If I need gas, I need gas. But when I have tourists from out of town, the price of gas is always a hot topic.

culver boulevard culver city

This is the sign outside the Backstage Bar across the street from Sony. These gentlemen seem to be appropriately dressed for an after work drink. And I am certainly glad no skateboards are allowed… nothing worse than a drunken skateboarder.

culver boulevard culver city

An Angel Trumpet Flower tree. Originating in South America they do well in Los Angeles… and how appropriate to have them growing in the City of Angels (well, here in Culver City to be precise).

culver boulevard culver city

The newest completed building at Sony. I thought it was going to be another garage but now it looks more like offices.

culver boulevard culver city

Street lamps lined up probably waiting for their next movie gig.

culver boulevard culver city

And another side street landscaped with cooling trees. Trees also, of course, help mitigate carbon monoxide.

culver boulevard culver city

More jacarandas that have flowered and dropped before their time.

culver boulevard culver city

At this point I was more than halfway to my destination and about to turn off Culver Boulevard on to Overland Avenue. So I thought I would take one last photo of a very important building. This is where I buy most of my lottery tickets. Haven’t won anything yet but I’m not giving up! Liquor stores in LA sell everything from cat food and cough drops to tooth paste and tea bags… yes, you can also buy liquor along with beer and fine wine… they never advertise “cheap” wine, but they have that too!

And the Black Bean Smashburger? It was delicious, thanks for asking…

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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The jacs are back!

jacarandas culver city

If you love the color purple as much as I do then this is your favorite time of year in Los Angeles. Purple is bursting forth all over the place! And especially where I live, in Culver City. This view is looking northwest on my street. You can see purple all the way up to the end.

jacaranda trees in culver city

2013 has turned out to be particularly purple as the beautiful jacaranda trees are nothing less than spectacular this year.

jacarandas culver city

Last year was very disappointing as the jacaranda blooms were very spotty. Some trees only bloomed in patches. Others were late blooming so there was no continuity. This year it’s as if they all got together and said okay, we have to get organized and all bloom at the same time to really show people what we can do.

culver city jacarandas

So, thank you, jacarandas. I appreciate the coordinated display. Culver City seems to be especially blessed with this wonderful bounty. This view is looking east towards downtown.

jacarandas culver city

If you compare this with the photo I took at the same location (the Culver City Police Station) in May, 2011, you can see how much fuller the blossoms are. And the palms are a couple of inches taller, aren’t they?

culver city jacarandas

Looking west on Culver Blvd. towards Sony Pictures. On the right is the Kirk Douglas Theater… an intimate live performance venue.

culver city jacarandas

I like the shadows here from the jacaranda trees and the colorful bougainvillea in planters alongside the Sony Pictures building.

culver city jacarandas

I always forget that people from other parts of the world or other parts of this country are not familiar with jacarandas, as those of us living in the LA area are so used to seeing them. Last week one of my tour-goers from Nebraska asked me to talk about those blue-violet trees. You don’t have to ask me twice! I was reminded it was time to walk around my neighborhood, take some photos and post an updated jacaranda blog.

culver city jacarandas

If you want to read (and see) more about jacarandas, two years ago I wrote about these trees on my blog at Jacaranda trees on view in the streets of Culver City. All the photos on this post are brand new for 2013 but as they are just a short walk from my house I may have repeated some of the locations.

This scene above, looking down on my street from the top of Culver Park, is the same view as 2011. See how much better the trees are looking in this 2013 photo taken at the same time of year.

culver city jacaranda

My bus stop outside City Hall where I wait for the #1 Culver City bus (sometimes way too long!). But at least I can’t complain about the view.

culver city jacarandas

A shady walk under the jacarandas along Restaurant Row.

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Looking from across the street at downtown’s Restaurant Row.

culver city jacarandas

A purple display to wake you up when you look out of your window at the Culver Hotel first thing in the morning.

culver city jacarandas

A close up of the nicely textured bark.

jacarandas culver city

Iconic image of Culver City. The Culver City sign, jacarandas outside the Irving Thalberg Building at Sony Studios (formerly MGM) and a peek at the rainbow sculpture commemorating the filming of the Wizard of Oz at the studios in the 1930s.

culver city jacarandas

culver city jacarandas

Outside the fire station. Had enough of jacarandas already? No, there can never be too many jacaranda photos!

culver city jacarandas

At the end of my block. Notice the bougainvillea vying for attention over the tile roof. Maybe I’ll do a bougainvillea blog pretty soon.

culver city jacrandas

Just one last photo, I promise. Looking towards the east end of downtown Culver City. The blossoms lying on the sidewalk look as pretty as they do on the trees. Ah, gotta love those shadows!

If I write a jacaranda blog another year I must look for a different part of Los Angeles to take my jacaranda photos!

Please click on all the photos for a larger view.

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, please check with us first for proper usage. Thanks!


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A Flight into the past of Los Angeles

Many good memories were stirred up when I had a business meeting downtown on Thursday at the Biltmore Hotel. When I was a Downtown Walking Tour docent for the Los Angeles Conservancy many years ago, I gave tours of the hotel. I also used to start my Marble Masterpieces tours in the Rendezvous Court (the original lobby). I miss leading those walks but there are only so many things one person can do at one time, and life goes on. 

Of the four tour guides who were in the meeting I had already worked with three of them. Like any field of work, tour guiding is a finite world and after a while there are only so many new people you are going to meet.

Los Angeles Downtown Angel's Flight

Angel's Flight with jacarandas

When the interview was over I decided to wander around some of my favorite places.  I walked over to California Plaza and rode Angel’s Flight, the funicular railway, down to Hill Street and the Grand Central Market. Angel’s Flight was built in 1901 and originally ran from Hill Street at Third Street up to Olive Street. It was dismantled in 1969 to make way for the Bunker Hill redevelopment project. The twin cars Sinai and Olivet languished in storage for 27 years. In 1996 the railway was reopened a half block south of the original location.

Los Angeles Downtown Angel's Flight

Angel's Flight inside the car on descent

Although the original cars were utilized the engineering was all new. Unfortunately it was built on faulty principles and the cables failed in 2001 killing an 83-year-old passenger. So Sinai and Olivet went back into storage and the owner of the engineering company fled, never to be seen again. Happily in March of 2010 the railway was certified as safe (it was re-engineered more closely to the original design) and has been running since with no problems.

This was my first ride since the accident and it was wonderful to once again greet my old friends Olivet and Sinai. The most fun part of the short ride (all of 298 feet) is when the cars meet halfway down (or up) the track and you think for sure they must collide.

Los Angeles Downtown Angel's Flight

Angel's Flight entrance with Sinai and Olivet approaching each other

Although it was still early my tummy was pleading to be fed so I crossed the street to the Grand Central Market. Founded in 1917, the market was upgraded in the 1980s with 52 neon signs marking the diverse stalls. Since my last visit several years ago the market has shrunk. But it is still lively and offers everything from spices and fruit to meat and fish. I decided to try a burrito pescado at Roast to Go. I’ve eaten plenty of fish tacos but never a fish burrito before. I also ordered a Jamaica (pronounced ham-eye-aka), a tea made of hibiscus and my favorite drink at Mexican restaurants.

Los Angeles Downtown Grand Central Market

Burrito pescado at Grand Central Market

The burrito was muy grande and I hate to admit that I ate the whole thing (although not the tortilla wrapping which I left—too many carbs). It came with a whole cut-up lemon.

Los Angeles Downtown Temple Street jacarandas

Los Angeles Downtown Temple Street jacarandas

I rode Angel’s Flight back up to California Plaza and to work off the burrito I walked through the Music Center, over to the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels (sat through part of a service), then down Temple to Spring. I stopped to take some photos of the jacarandas. Several people turned around and stared to see what I was shooting, perhaps hoping for a celebrity sighting—sorry, merely the beautiful purple trees, didn’t you notice them?

It was noon and the sun was heating up. I walked eight long blocks along Spring Street to catch the 733 Rapid back to the cooler breezes of Culver City.

For a photo gallery click here.

(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)


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Jacaranda trees on view in the streets of Culver City

culver-city-jacarandas

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.

culver-city-jacarandas

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.

culver-city-jacarandas

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)