After my downtown tour, I had lunch here, yes the falafel was good. I’m sharing the image because in the 1980’s all the food stalls in Grand Central Market were made out of neon. Most of the newer stalls are following that tradition, I’m not sure if it is a requirement or not.

After that it was time to visit the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale.  I had gone on the Neon bus tour a few years ago, wonderful thing to do if you are in the LA area in the summer. During the day, the diving beauty shines, but no as much as she would at night.I don’t know if this installation lights up at night. Neon is a technology that became quite popular in the early 20th century in advertising.  All of the signs in the exhibit have come from buildings that are no longer around. I’m glad there are people out there who are saving these artifacts.

This is the sign from the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. There were two of these marquees, put up in 1957, they came down in 2001.  Thank God one was saved and was repaired back to good working condition.The orange-red is the color you get with neon gas. The blue comes from Argon gas. Using phosphates is how you manipulate these two into other colors.I had to take a selfie! I don’t quite understand these pop up museums that are just Instagram opportunities. The Neon Museum has a purpose, to educate and to share an art form that almost died. It wasn’t easy getting this sequence on my camera! This is one of the fun things about neon, the stop action motion. This is a very funny advertisement for a bar.Neon really is art, I do enjoy the creativity of the designers. Bars, peep shows, and motels, don’t forget the motels! Eric (a fellow conservancy docent who leads some of the Neon Bus tours) was there and was telling me that he could tell back in 2017 that the economy was roaring back, because so many old motels are being torn down for modern development. The museum tries to get the signage, but that is not always possible.There is a poster with images of motels around the country. This one caught my eye! The motel is no longer there, but look what I found a block away!The Carlton Motor Lodge, another Art Deco motel. Btw, the word motel is the combination of the word motor and hotel, the first of these was in San Luis Obispo. Clearly, this one is using the words motor Lodge instead. I don’t know if the neon sign still works.The blade sign is newer. I do like the Atomic Age star on the top. I hope this survives a while longer!




Columbia Memorial Space center

For a number of years now I have been enjoying event set up by Atlas Obscura. There is so much to explore in the LA area, I’m just scratching the surface.

Years ago I had been on another tour in south LA and it was mentioned that the whole space program, as in building the Capsules, rockets and shuttles happened here. So I signed up for this tour in Downey.In an area, the size of Disneyland was the birthplace of American Space exploration. Today, there is a hospital, large sports facility and a huge outdoor shopping mall. Oh and this little museum.All of the Apollos and the shuttles were built here. This one, sitting outside was the first to leave the atmosphere and come back intact.Here is Bill, the head of this museum. He is showing us a very important artifact, this is the coupling mechanism for the Apollo. I can’t explain it all, but somehow, this small device is what allowed the space program to jettison the boosters while leaving earths atmosphere, while being able to come back again. As I said, I can’t explain it, it’s a small thing thing that made a very big difference.

The LA area is the birthplace of a lot of the aerospace industry, during WWII this facility was busy cranking out airplanes. Afterwards, the push was to explore rockets and then space travel.

By the 1980s’ the space exploration industry was in major decline. It’s hard to describe how the death of this industry had such a massive effect on the region, hundreds of thousands of jobs gone over night. So by the year 2000 this museum was in the planning stages. Once the Columbia was lost in 2003, the Federal government designated this site as the official Federal memorial to the Columbia. The Columbia first flew in in 1981, had 28 missions and in 2003 the tragic end over Texas, killing all seven astronauts.

This image is of one of the successful liftoffs. It is made out of thousands of images of that last crew of seven who didn’t make it back. An image of the crew, which included an Indian woman and the famed Israeli pilot, Ilan Ramon.Of course, I have a special place in my heart for a fellow Israeli who flew this mission. He was part of the mission in the 1980s who bombed the nuclear reactor in Iraq. The world condemned Israel no end for that, although in private, I’m sure the world sighed a sigh of relief.  Condemning Israel for anything is what the world does.  Then, years later, one of his sons’ was killed while training with the Israeli air force. Life has not been kind to his wife, Rona.This museum is a hands-on location that is great for children, they have a robotics lab, they have all kinds of things to do. There is a real gap, these days kids don’t care much about space exploration, it’s just not in the conscientiousness of this generation. That is what happens when the world turns it’s attention to other pursuits. These days, it’s SpaceX and Space Virgin, private companies that are exploring opportunities.  The government is too busy wasting money on anything else it can. Not that space exploration is a waste, but most government spending these days is.Joel by the suit.Me in the suit, well, I’m not suited up, there is a ladder in the back. It’s just a photo op.Snoopy the Astrobeagle became a mascot for NASA. Oh and that table? I just got the corner of it, but this is a very large conference table that was used here at the facility. In the movie Apollo 11, the table is in Houston, but in reality, it was in Downey. When the trouble started on the capsule, all the info about the Apollo 11 was poured out on this table and the engineers who had worked on actual capsule put their heads together and came up with the solutions that Houston passed on the guys up in space.

Oh, and manned missions to Mars aren’t happening anytime soon. It’s not the money (well, that is part of it), it’s the radiation. The manned missions to the moon were exposed to radation for almost two weeks – and came back still healthy. The mission to Mars would be months – that amount of radiation is a death sentence to any human. Which is why JPL is doing all those unmanned missions. Who knows if at some point someone solves the radiation problem in space.


The Huntington

I probably have at least on post a year showcasing the Huntington Gardens. It’s such a blessing to have this so close to home. It’s also great to have a friend with membership so we went together and just walked around, enjoying the beauty. Many of the cacti and succulents are blooming, often in orange. These wonderful South African flowers are blooming. These are Protea, they grow very well in Southern California, we have the same climate.The cactus garden here is amazing. 40 years ago, when I visited for the first time, it was one big mess. They got control of it again and it is stunning. Some of the aloe are really huge.It had rained in the morning, we still have these gorgeous clouds in the sky.  It was Valentines Day, couples were out enjoying the beautiful day. How cute is this? This comes from the anime world. Dressing up in cute dresses, looking like a baby doll. It would be fun to make a dress for someone like this.Some people were busy working, three people on one bonsai bush.Chinese lanterns for the Chinese New year are still hanging around the garden.Looking down on the Japanese garden, what a view!A lizard grabbing some rays.

Speaking of Ray, we had a cup of coffee and talked quilting. A young woman approached, she works for Hoffman Fabrics. She is the daughter of Helen from SewkindofWonderul. So we proudly showed off pictures of quilts we both have made from their patterns. Chatted about the textile industry (oy!). And told her and her husband to enjoy a wonderful day. Through Instagram I got in touch with Helen and we both had a laugh about the small world story.



Missing the quilt show

There is an Art Quilt show in Santa Monica. I’ve been meaning to go, what better time than on a Tuesday when I have to be on the westside with my grandkids. So I looked up the information, wasn’t that easy to find. I drove to the museum, only to discover that it’s not open on Tuesdays. As I said, not easy to find details about this show.

So I took advantage of being so close to the beach and had a better time walking around then I would have at the show.It started with this, full of gratitude that I have the time to spend an hour on the beach.Santa Monica Bay is amazing, mountains with right up to the water on the northern edge as well as on the southwestern edge. Most of the bay has a very large flat sandy beach. Luckily for us, the harbor wasn’t placed here and they didn’t build right up to the water, so this is an enormously wide, white sand beach.The pier was supposed to be the start of a harbor, turns out that the underwater topography isn’t good for that at all. So the harbor is further south, and we enjoy an amazing beach. Today the pier is just for enjoyment, complete with an amusement park. It was a very warm day, but not many people out at the beach. In the summer, even mid-week, this place is very crowded. The bike and pedestrian paths are very wide and well maintained. Not only people come out to walk. So did this pony, I mean Great Dane.Walking back to my car, I took a side street and admired the multi-million dollar homes. They probably started out as beach cottages, not anymore. This one has the surfboard at the ready.You know me, I love the architectural details.People certainly take pride in these homes, they are all beautifully maintained.Being so close to the ocean means a lot of paint. I’m glad they are keeping these gems up.  I really like the reflection of the black detail in the window, allows me to see the design so much better.

I have to do this more often, leave an hour early and enjoy a walk on the beach. I get stuck in my routine and forget to do these kinds of things. I need to make this part of my routine.


Final holiday post, I think

Still at Rogers Gardens. How cute are these?This owl is even cuter since he isn’t seasonal.Turns out he’s not alone.One thing this nursery is really known for is it’s floral designs and it’s original planters. The pinecones add a Christmas feel, but the planter will do just fine without them.They do a lot with driftwood. This is probably one of the most impressive ones.This wasn’t at Rogers, rather in the office building that holds the Irvine Museum of Art. One of those living wall decorations. I wonder if the red is for the season or is always there.

By the way, I didn’t take any pictures of the pictures, but although it is small, The Irvine Art Collection has incredible California plein air artwork. Really some of the best California artists like Grenville Redmond, Wendt and even some painting by William Lee Judson, the man who started the wonderful Judson stain glass studio.

Good landscaping with grass, aloe. I like the blooms, even if they haven’t opened yet.A quick drive along the beach in Corona Del Mar, need to come back here. Here is another storybook house, unlike the one I saw in Tujunga, this one is modern. Only built a few years ago, but with all the trappings of the style.




After a Hanukkah post, it’s time for Christmas. I don’t celebrate Christmas, but boy do I love all the trappings of the season. I was visiting my friend in Irvine, one of our stops was Rogers Gardens, a lovely nursery – so festive!I couldn’t stop taking pictures of ornaments. Love the shades of green here. Also, nice that it became something of a selfie.The trees were done up in color schemes.  This Turquoise one popped out among the darker ornaments.Pantone has chosen ultraviolet as their color of the year. I will be working with all kinds of purple, not necessarily this one. I think this is about as ultraviolet as one can get.A hot air balloon in honor of my friend Clayton.Love these Chinese jars! The key was on the gold tree.Ahhh! Can’t get over the opulence and festivity of it.This is the white and pale pastels.Love the paper bird and flower.Red is a must, Candy stripes even more so.How about pink? Yes, there is another ultraviolet one as well.The embroidered look.

Along with the lights that shine so bright on the homes around me, I just love the exuberance of Christmas decorations.


LA Aqueduct walk

Last Sunday we walked with Charles Fleming around a cemetery. This week, we took his book, Secret Walks and headed out the northern part of the valley. This is a view that anyone driving on the 5 Freeway, is very familiar with. The end of the LA Aqueduct. Sometimes water is being aerated down both spillways, today it was clearly not.  The water goes under the freeway to a very large holding area, which these days is covered with large black balls to prevent evaporation. We walked up the very northern part of Balboa Ave, I had thought it ended at Foothill, but now, it makes a loop around. There is plenty of large warehouses and a few housing communities.  Most of the water is pumped through these massive pipes, all the way from the Owens Valley.Gotta love the bombastic name and gate in front of one of these complexes.  The street is named Nicklaus Dr. We soon found out why.This area was intended to be a planned golf community, with the course designed by Jack Nicklaus.  They dug up a pond and lined it with heavy plastic, which surprisingly enough has survived all these years. I bet it had water in it last winter when we had heavy rains.They also paved pathways for golf carts, although they don’t want motorized traffic on them now.Someone planted bougainvillea Since these are native to Mexico, they thrive out here without any care.Gazania, another domesticated plant that manages to thrive with no care.Looking up at the final water tower of the aqueduct itself.Down at the water splashing and aerating on it’s way to the sanitation reservoir. These days people love to bash the aqueduct and its designer, William Mulholland. Me, I’m grateful to both. LA would never be what it is today without the water. I love this massive, crazy megalopolis. Sure, these days much of our water comes from the Colorado River. Why is it that people are so impressed with ancient world engineering (Machu Pichu, the Pyramids) but dismiss modern day wonders?  I’m impressed with them all.The Los Angeles Freeway system is a wonder unto itself.Cars on the freeway and a Metrolink train speeding by on tracks.Massive power lines are overhead. Part of the power comes from the aqueduct and hydroelectric power. Walking under them is a little disconcerting, the hum and crackle of the massive power running through those wires are very noticeable.I saw a couple of these boxes, fuses just open to the elements. Maybe they are completely non-functional, I hope so. We walked alongside this condo complex. It faces the freeway and all of the noise, but at least in the back, they have this lovely expanse of grass. I hope people take advantage of this.Look what I found! A quilt! It looks handmade. I didn’t dare touch it, who knows what kind of germs are on it. But a quilt, out in the wild.It was too early for tacos, so instead, we found a cute coffee shop, Coffee and Cream, in Sylmar. We sat out on the patio and enjoyed the mural, as well as a conversation with a fellow cyclist. I don’t ride bikes, but Joel does, so they had a lot to talk about. As I said, I love this crazy megalopolis.


Fuller Theological Seminary

I was heading to Pasadena to see some artwork at PMCA, one of those small museums that offer very good exhibits. I parked a few blocks away and made my way to Union st. My shortcut took me here:Pasadena is a fascinating little city. Most people think of this as a nice suburb of Los Angeles, but it has so much happening here. The city is beautiful, it is full of interesting buildings and institutions. The Norton Simon Museum, the Rose Bowl, a myriad of churches, and the best example of Craftsman homes around.

It is the home of Caltech, Art Center and The Fuller Theological Seminary? What is that you ask? I had heard of it, religious seminary schools aren’t a hot ticket item, but they do exist. So why not one right here in the middle of Pasadena? These wonderful buildings are about 70 years old. They all house classrooms, not dorms. Charles E. Fuller was a radio evangelist back in the 1940’s when radio evangelism was the rage. He went further and 70 years ago established this school. In the middle of the campus stands the Women’s club, it was built in 1945, so the rest of the university grew around it.It looks like the members know how to enjoy an afternoon on the balcony.The Seminary is keeping up with the times, they have added newer buildings as well as campuses around the West.  As small as this campus is, there were plenty of students and faculty walking around.I came across this, now this is a very interesting sculpture. How often do you see artwork that depicts the actual nailing of Jesus to the cross?I have to admire the artist, what a realistic scene. Not that art has to be realistic, but it certainly is effective here.OUCH! That is painful to see even in art, clearly, I’m not the only one who has stopped here.Are these flowers ironic? or is someone appreciating the pain and sacrifice?Right next door is a small quiet little chapel. With an interesting stained glass cross built into the corner.And what I guess is a meditation corner. A pit full of pebbles that people can come in and create messages with. Like a heart, peace, and Jesus. So someone is coming in here.

So there it is another exploration right here at home, it’s what makes each day interesting.


Palos Verdes

The Santa Monica bay is very large. At one point that is where people wanted to build the port. Good thing they didn’t for two reasons, it’s actually not deep enough and now it is simply a beautiful bay. Sorry San Pedro and Wilmington, you ended up with the big industrial port.On Sunday we were invited to a birthday brunch at the Terranea resort. This is the old location of Marineland – a precurser to the many Sea Worlds out there. Although Marineland closed down in 1987, this resort wasn’t completed until 2009. Which leads me to think that these tiles were made deliberately to look old and worn. Knowing what I know about tiles, that wasn’t a good choice, it simply makes them look cheap. Since this style of tile would have been with the different colors of clay running through, at least a couple of millimeters. Oh well, how many people really look down at the floor they are walking on?Or look into a golf cart to see a Harris Hawk, hood on and all waiting to do his job.If it weren’t for his handler, I wouldn’t have known the breed. But he is there for bird abatement. He will fly over many parts of the resort, keeping the and sea gulls away – just with his presence. I did see the handler pull out a dead bird from the cooler and tear off a chunk. Even hawks don’t work for free. He needs to eat and be rewarded. No pictures of that, some people get very squeamish about real nature at work.Brunch was lovely, afterward, we changed into walking clothes and shoes and just started walking around. Palos Verdes is on cliffs high above the ocean, there are very few places that actually have a beach. Because of the different directions of wind and such in the bay, Santa Monica and Venice have very wide expanses of sand, Palos Verdes, at the southern tip, has none.

I am no geologist, but this cliff has fascinating stories to tell, of how it was created and now how it is being worn away.One thing PV has that most of LA doesn’t have, is this marine layer. On a hot July day, the clouds are hanging low in the sky. The piling is one of the few left from the Marineland days. We walked on, away from the resort and along the bluffs, enjoying the views.Even looking back down on Terranea.My love of Light houses was rewarded. Even if I don’t go in, seeing a light house up on a cliff makes me happy. This is Point Vicente Light house, that operated from 1926 until 1939. Today all the duties of a light house are done electronically, so they are historic relics of what boats had to contend with in the past. I still love them and hope that they are kept in good condition for visitors to see.This one still has the Fresnel lens, which was very powerful at the time it was installed, it could be seen 20 miles out to seeunless the fog got too thick and then the fog horn would blow.Today the danger is from the land much more than the sea. I love how the sign says: Don’t even think about it! Sadly, every few years, either accidents or stupidity happens and someone gets killed falling down these cliffs to the rocky beach below. Not far from this sign there was one of those shrines, candles and plastic flowers. No name but the relatives of the deceased must still come by.

One last look at the light house and back to our car we went.




The cemetery at Mission San Luis Rey

Every Mission has a cemetery, often the oldest graves predate the present buildings. At the San Fernando Mission, Bob Hope and his family were given a place of honor, a whole section of the garden to themselves. Here at San Luis Rey, I didn’t see any celebrities, but this is a very desirable final resting place.I’m glad they are emphatic about the no pets rule. It’s amazing to me how people take their pets everywhere, especially to places they shouldn’t be. One of the old gates into the cemetery. The official website says that the cross and bones is a symbol of a cemetery for the Franciscan order. Look at images online, there ae many examples.Wikipedia says it was put there by Disney in 1957 when they filmed the Zoro movie here. Ah, Wikipedia, so dangerous to take you at face value.

The official website says they just replaced some gates. Not these gates, there is a section with metal gates.The cemetery is very peaceful, with many different sections. Today anyone can be buried here, for a price of course. Unlike San Fernando where one must be Catholic. It was touching to see the grave of a soldier from WWI. I wonder if he was really buried here, or if his family erected a tombstone in his honor. Most people who died ‘over there’ were buried there. All America has asked for when it fought wars over seas was for land to bury their dead – they didn’t conquer and stay. Today the bodies are brought home, transportation is very different.A simple family plot? 1872, 1943, written in very crude letters.  The McCrory family has a mausoleum, it too is rather simple.24 years old, or rather young. In those days death was much more common at any age, not just the very old.Multiple burials in a well are very common these days, less room, less cost. And yet no one is skimping on decorations and mementos, even on the wall.I can’t help but wonder what happened here. There were a number of crosses in a row, this one was knocked down. I didn’t see any name. Maybe it will be repaired soon, the whole area is so well cared for, this was jarring.

Overall, a very peaceful complentative place.