Family vacation

In our busy lives it hard to get all the kids and grandkids together. It took a lot of planning to find a date and a location. We ended up going for the weekend to a resort near Legoland. A great time was had by all. The pool and the splash pad were loads of fun.The playgound wasn’t large, but was very different from the ones at home. Westley is becoming quite the climber.This got the biggest workout of all.Some people sat and relaxed.Enjoying time with the Aunt.And others treated it like a roller coaster ride.We did go down to the beach, most of the pictures I took there are on my son’s camera, so I have to wait for him to share.Two gorgeous smiles, with Westley no so sure in the background.Reading books before bed.We made it to Legoland.

Went on a couple of rides and saw the aquarium. The one ride I wouldn’t go on is one I took pictures of.First you go up.Ready for action!Yup, then you get tossed! No thank you!Princess Leah with Princess Leia, I always tell people that my name is like the princess but I had it first. Not only that, I’m still around and she is gone. Oh well, at least the Lego Princess is doing just fine. I like how our hair almost looks the same, just mine isn’t in those silly buns.


Pasadena Chalk Festival

Every Father’s Day weekend, for the last 26 years there is a chalk festival at Paseo Colorado. This year it was overcast and cool, so the artists could work in comfort.June gloom in all its glory! I got there early on Sunday morning because by then, some of the images are finished, or close to it.There is a process of voting, I didn’t take part, I just walked around, enjoying the artwork.This one is so delicate with fine details.I am drawn to the ones that look like oil paintings. This guy here is really blending the chack. In some cases, they grind the chalk into powder, add water and paint.Plenty of cartoon characters, especially the Japanese Manga style. Probably my favorite, I just love the Art Nouveau style of drawing.Very appropriate to have this car here since at the same time there is a classic car show.I adore these old cars, so loved and well taken care of.Give me more of that Fire engine red, even if the original would have been a simple black. Everyone this year seems to have stopped at the carhop to get food and drinks.Love how this couple dressed for the occasion! It was very busy, a chalk festival, antique cars as well as Aliencon, I was expecting to see more people in costume. Very few were, I saw one couple in white capes and antennae on their heads. I guess most people are really serious about these aliens, it’s not another comic-con. In honor of my friend Becky, a 1947 Teardrop trailer. She owns a much newer one, but not a lot has changed. A very tight compact way to travel. It has everything except the bathroom. The best part about this one? A handmade quilt!



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.


Bach at Union Station

Since 2010 Bach in Subways happens every March around Bach’s birthday. For the last few year Union Station in Downtown LA hosts a day-long event.

So it was time to grab Joel, hop on the subway all the way to the end of the line and enjoy free classical music in the beautiful 77-year-old Union Station building in downtown LA.The station was packed with people, some traveling and many others, like us, there to enjoy the music.333 years is a long time, the balloons were decorating the station, both inside and out.Oh look! There is a paper mache Bach!Someone with a Bach bag.

How about some actual music.

And some dance.

No, I cannot explain this Vaccaro with his stuffed pheasant, all I can say is, they both enjoyed the concert.No explanation for this tiger head either. It’s LA.This gorgeous half dome is atop the Patsaouras Plaza in Union Station, a newer addition to the complex.Kids from all over Los Angeles are learning music through the Harmony project and what great musicians they are.After some music, we went for a walk, a huge limousine pulled up in front, not sure if they were there for Bach or not.

We walked up through the Old Plaza where Mexican music was playing, took a look at the old Church and then down through Overa St. Joel remarked that he wonders when we are getting back on the cruise ship. These excursions can feel like a vacation.Past Chinatown to the new park at the old cornfield. Today it is Los Angeles State historic park. It needs to grow into itself, but it is lovely to have this park in a dense part of north Chinatown. People were enjoying the park and I had to get a picture of City Hall.

Then we walked through a very tight busy Chinese market, the counterpart to Olvera st. On t0 Phillipe, 110 years old and still serving the best French dip sandwiches.This time I even treated myself to banana cream pie, with real bananas. Then back through Union Station, where the finale concert was taking place in the old Ticket concourse. Down to the subway and home.

Have I mentioned that I love Los Angeles?





Birthday celebration

I know, my birthday was almost a month ago but the celebrations continue. Friends took me to lunch and gave me the perfect gift.I sat down with a nice cup of tea and drooled, thinking of all the things I want to make. Then I put a pattern to good use.I’ve been concerned that the light blue ring doesn’t really stand out. So, add some applique. I modified the pattern some, but just by removing some elements. This also gave me the chance to practice some more with my Appliquick tools. I am getting better!

Then it was time to go for a lovely birthday dinner with Joel. I wanted to go to the new Nomad hotel, but the menu in the restaurant was very small. So we went to Redbird instead.

We arrived early and found street parking in Little Tokyo! Unheard of!There are so many new apartment buildings, Little Tokyo is hopping. This mural over a parking lot really grabbed me. I think I have a thing for birds these days. Not to mention that it looks like embroidery, cross stitch and all.I think they prefer this cat in this neighborhood.That looks like the Challenger, lets go take a closer look. Indeed it is a memorial to one of the astronauts. Although I was in Israel at the time, this disaster was very big news. We all heard about Christa Mcauliffe, the teacher from New Hampshire. The Japanese American community has not forgotten, I am grateful for that.  We don’t hear much about this community because they overcame the indignation and horror of internment during WWII by president Roosevelt, and went on to build good meaningful lives. One of them was Elison S. Onizuka, I’m sorry he died when he did, I’m glad his community honors him.Redbird is in the rectory of St. Vibiana. You can see the new apartment block in the background, the whole neighborhood is filling up with these. St. Vibiana is the original Cathedral in Los Angeles. Once the new Cathedral was built, there was nothing holy or consecrated about this building. It almost faced demolition and these days serves as an event center.I wish we had more address signs like this. Beautiful.

Dinner was amazing, well worth it and perfect for a birthday celebration. I couldn’t resist pulling out my phone when dessert arrived.A very upscale homemade smores, with marshmallow ice cream, decadent and amazing.Yup, very very happy with my birthday.


More balloons

We went back to the field on Thursday morning. Some more of Clayton’s friends came down from Denver, so I had a chance to get more pictures of the prep.First, toasting a successful Fiesta and a good friendship with some good old Colorado beer.Assembling the basket components.Stretching out the balloon. It’s a powerful fan, the balloon fills quickly. There are all kinds of flaps that can be manipulated with ropes, that is how Clayton controls assent or descent.Moments before liftoff.And they are off, now it’s time to look around. Thursday was shape day, I only saw a few of the shape balloons. Becky got some great pictures so I’ll wait to see them. Then the chase started, we all piled into the truck and followed the balloon. Jared was in touch via walkie-talkie, we also kept eye contact. There was Doppelganger – another balloon very similar to Finish Line. The weather was perfect, they were up in the air almost 1.5 hours and they ended up at the very far reaches of one of the outlining suburbs. The Albuquerque region is much larger than I expected.Starting to come down in this field, none of us wanted him to land there, too much brush and who knows rattlesnakes. I missed it but some of the guys saw a jackrabbit the size of a coyote.So although he did touch down briefly and very smoothly, he got enough lift so we could walk him a quarter of a mile down to a nice grassy area. I took a few pictures, then I joined in walking the balloon, Clayton made sure to keep it afloat, so no dragging on the ground. This wasn’t easy, maneuvering down a slope.On the ground, now it was necessary to hold on to the basket so it didn’t lift off again.Jared grabbed the rope and is pulling the balloon to the ground. They got a sponsor this year, a Boot store, I hardly saw the sign, it was small compared to the whole balloon.Deflating.Deflating, rolling up the balloon and stuffing it in the bag takes a lot less time when you have a large crew.We were awarded tank tops, courtesy of Clayton, then we sat back and enjoyed a nice tailgate party out on the field with other balloonists.

Great experience, I need to make sure there are no conflicts, so Joel can have this fun experience as well.


Going up in a balloon at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

It is great to have friends with interesting hobbies. I’ve known Clayton for years, and he has always said, come ballooning. So finally this year we made arrangements to go to Albuquerque. Unfortunately, Joel realized he had a very important engagement here in town, so I went with my friend Becky instead.Clayton is in the green and his wonderful partner Jared, who I just met this week is in the red. I think you can figure out which one is Becky.Up at 4:30 in the morning, going out to the field and preparing the balloon for flight. It was freezing, standing around till almost 7 am, frost on the ground, I’m not built for that kind of cold.You better believe I stood close by when Clayton tested the propane.The balloon itself, named Finish Line, is laid out, ready to fill.First a fan is used to fill as much air in as possible.Jared is holding the line attached to the top, stretching it out so the balloon fills evenly. No way can one do this hobby alone, it takes a number of people.Once it’s pretty full, Clayton turns on the heat.Those flames are hot.Into the basket we go, a quick picture before liftoff.Then, we glide up into the air.Looking back at other balloons who are preparing for their own ascent. The view from the air is incredible. It was a little too windy, so not many balloons made it up. They aborted the lift-off for many balloons.  I didn’t notice how strong the winds were until it became apparent that we were over the city, rather than out into open space.

We landed twice, hard. Clayton is an excellent pilot, he knew we had to get down quickly when it’s windy, it’s hard to get a smooth landing, so down we went into a newly plowed field. Just to have someone run out yelling that we can’t land here. We had landed, bounced and the basket tipped over. So we straightened up, calmed the guy down and back up we went, just another few blocks to an empty lot and once again, hard bouncing landing. People immediately ran to help. Most people in Albuquerque love the balloons. I didn’t get any pictures of the landing, I was busy getting bounced around, but you can see,  trying to land in a city isn’t easy.Two more balloons landing right next to us.The Albuquerque balloon had their chase crew at the ready, about 4 guys grabbed the tether and pulled the balloon down gently. Unlike our basket, can you see it toppled over practically on that log?  Luckily we were dumped out before the log then it got dragged further. No damage to us, basket or the balloon.Wrapping up and getting ready to pack everything up.

This is long enough for one post, more balloons soon.




Judson Glass studio

What alerted me to the South Pasadena Art Walk was a post on the Judson Studio FB page. I love this 130 year old family owned company. I especially love the fact that they continue to develop and grow. They recently took on a major project, a massive Stain Glass wall in a Church in Leawood Kansas. Here is a short video of part of the process. Throughout the years of this project they shared photos and videos on their FB page, worth going back and taking a look.

Because of this project they needed more space, which they found in walking distance from their century old headquarters.Leaded glass as door decoration.The Leawood church forced them into a whole new way of creating stained  glass. Working with an expert they moved into the realm of fusing glass, not just painting. This allows for a whole new world of color and vibrancy.This piece does not need the separation of the lead, but combining the old techniques with the new is part of what Judson is doing today.

They get all kinds of commissions, from private homes, Churches, large public installations. They are often called in to repair old stained glass. The lead gets very weak after 100 years. What is fun is that they have gone back to repair work they had originally installed.

A project they are working on now, for a monastery in Wyoming. The monks are building it all by themselves. They sustain themselves with a beer brewery and a distillery, in Europe it used to be wine, so why not update the spirits here.This is 100% traditional stained glass technique. Each piece of glass will be separated by lead, first,they draw in the shading with gray or black,  they paint in the colors. In some cases, the glass is colored glass upon which they paint in the shading.Not only are the techniques very old, the subject matter is very traditional. When completed this will be transported to Wyoming and from that point on, only monks in the monestary will be able to enjoy this beauty.They had a full scale cartoon on the wall, this is a large commision. One piece is already complete and was hanging in their window.

On the second Thursday of every month they lead a tour of both facilities. I can’t make it in August but most certainly will be going in September. So look forward to an even longer disertation about glass and this wonderful family run business here in Los Angeles.



Japanese cultural village

Have I mentioned how much I love LA? Always something new to discover, often with the help of the Atlas Obscura.

On a gloomy Sunday in June, I went off the the Arts District downtown for an adventure.Waiting for everyone to arrive, I started taking pictures of the surrounding buildings. The Arts District is famous for it’s murals and street art. Little did I know that we were headed inside this building... to be greeted by 5000 square feet of this.Since this was an industrial building with high ceilings, Peter built an interior roof.Now we get to why I love cultural appropriation – as it is called today. (in my youth we just called it the melting pot and celebrated the fact that we were all welcome to share in one another’s culture). Peter Lai is a Chinese man from Hong Kong. For many years he was quite the flamboyant designer, once here in America, he left his family tradition of designing for Chinese theater and TV and designed high-end couture for a clientele in San Marino. He also developed a love for everything Japanese, especially the Kabuki theater.  So he built a miniature Japanese village in his loft. He is an avid collector, here showing us an old store register, listing the inventory and what has sold.Everywhere one looks there is stuff! I realized quickly that his inspiration is Japanese theater – not the sparse simple design we associate with Japan. In the fall he is going to take a practical exam to become an official Kabuki dancer. He has been dancing for 17 years, his Mentor is 95 years old, if he is going to pass his exam, he has to do it soon.A Temari ball caught my eye. He tends to collect many items, this was the only such ball that I saw.He did have a basket full of Darumas.  A few words about Kabuki, traditionally it was performed only by men, in the early 20th century it opened to women as well. Guess what happened? The men left, today there are hardly any male Kabuki dancers, so when Peter becomes official, he will be the first male Kabuki dancer in his studio in a very long time.

A few words about Kabuki, traditionally it was performed only by men, in the early 20th century it opened to women as well. Guess what happened? The men left, today there are hardly any male Kabuki dancers, so when Peter becomes official, he will be the first male Kabuki dancer in his studio in a very long time.In this space there is of course, a theater for performances, I think it can hold 45 people. In front of some of the seating cushions, were bento boxes wrapped in the Furoshiki technique, a delight for the textile crafter in me.Peter isn’t a purist, he is theatrical! Behind him is a Chinese opium bed. He is holding the original high heel shoe – for a man! Next to him is a Chinese garment, turns out he found the skirt but couldn’t find a matching top, so he removed the bands off the back of the skirt and incorporated them into a matching jacket. A purist would cringe, but for Peter, unless he is taking the Kabuki exam, anything goes. He has performed his dances for local audiences here, and as long as he doesn’t call it pure Kabuki, he feels he combine what he wants. I like his attitude!There is a dressing and makeup room, full of wigs, hair ornaments and face makeup. I zoomed in on the many combs used for the wigs. He even modeled a young man’s wig as well as an older mans’ wig. This one was gray and had a large bald spot on the top!I think Betty Boop loves her new costume!  Most of the kimonos he owns are for the theater, not street wear or even wedding kimonos. I could tell because of the garish colors and the heavy use of gold and silver thread. All this is very necessary on stage, but would be considered gauche in everyday life.From early teens until late 20s’ Peter worked in the family theatrical costume workshop. It was then sold and went out of business, so Peter has had to buy back costumes the family made. He should be a consultant on any production of Chinese movie made here in America, he knows the difference between all the dynasties and what they wore. While he still had his clothing store in San Marino, he would often remove such a dragon and put in on a lovely evening jacket.What a workroom! For him this is small, he no longer is making clothes but is still updating items and making a new costume here and there. He is selling off fabric, buttons, and trims.It was so nice to see a solid industrial Juki still at work.Anyone who visits the studio is welcome to buy one of his creations for a very steep discount.Just to show you how eclectic he is, this steampunk mask would sell for a very nice price!  I don’t think this was for sale.