Greystone Mansion

For years I had heard about Greystone Mansion, the home built in 1928 for the son of Edward Doheny, the Oil Magnate. I knew that the gardens are open to the public, the 18 acres are owned by the city of Beverly Hills. I just never got there. There are opportunities, concerts, other events that take place in the house, once again. I never got there.So when Friends of Greystone offered a tour, I jumped on the opportunity! I think it was a great success, so they will probably do this again. This is the largest historic private home south of Hearst Castle. Hearst Castle dwarfs this, but still this is very impressive.These signs are all over. It doesn’t refer to the average visitor, like The Bradbury building, they want the professionals and the movie people to pay for the privilage of filming here.Even though we saw a lot more of the house than most people do, we didn’t get into this circular room.Up the staircase in the central entry hall. I should have gotten pictures of the floor, it is iconic marble tile. In every room there was an explanation about the room as well as what movies were filmed there.

Ned Doheny, Edwards’ son was in a murder suicide in the downstairs bedroom, with his male secretary friend. Sure he had 5 kids, he still could have been having a gay relationship that went wrong.

The wife and children stayed there. Through the years property was sold off. The final 18 acres were sold to a developer – who simply rented the house out for movie shoot. So plenty of movies were shot here. In the early 1970s the city bought the property because they wanted to put in a large reservoir, it is now under the upper parking lot. The woodwork is amazing! Most of the house isn’t furnished, still very very impressive. From inside looking out, Love the play of textures, light and shadow.There is a movie theater, too dark to take a picture, as is appropriate. A Bowling alley as well as a game room with a Billiards table made by Brunswick. If you saw my post from a few weeks ago, I shared the building that housed their LA portion of the company, exactly at the same time this house was built.A few pictures from the gardens, I’ll be back to give them the appropriate attention.There were plenty of wonderful details. I will be sharing some from inside the house shortly.


Underground at the Huntington Library

One of the rewards of being a docent with the LA Conservancy is the special tours that come up. Things are changing here, what used to be formal gardens and classic sculpture now has modern items, like this famous Calder and many of the gardens are becoming native and low water.

We came to see the underground portion of the library. Most people are familiar with the Huntington Gardens as well as the artwork, namely British paintings such as Blue Boy and Pinky.  But really the heart of this endeavor is the incredible library. There are always very important manuscripts on display, and yet, so much more is happening behind the scenes – or rather underground.In vaults such as this, climate controlled, behind gates, every which way of preventing fire. There is a massive underground warren that no-one ever sees. Henry Huntington himself collected important documents and since his death the library has grown to be one of the premier libraries in the world. New and old documents and artifacts are either purchased or donated.Signs like this are all over the place. All the windows are completely UV blocking – so the people are secondary. You need vitamin D – go outside! You are cold? Put on a sweater.Although the card catalogs are being digitized, some of these old cabinets are still around. The early attempts at digitizing in the 90’s didn’t work so well, better keep the paper around.The Rothenberg reading room, where many of the 1,700 researchers come to use the library. Think about it, 1,700 researchers a year isn’t a lot. Some are on fellowship for a year, others need to get approval and pay their own way.This is what one expects a library to look like. Very clear instructions, many of the manuscripts are original, one of a kind, they must be protected. When exiting the library, someone checks your bags – no thievery please!Here is a more modern reading room, also lovely. I couldn’t get a picture, the angle wasn’t right, but there is a wonderful Old bookcase called the Shakespeare cabinet, made of woods that would have been mentioned in his works. Henry Huntington bought it himself and filled it with original folios of the plays. These are now in the vaults, with facsimiles  on the shelves. Here are a handful of the books written by researchers in the last year. Every year they switch out the books, to showcase what that years research led to. There were many other books, I wasn’t going to take pictures of them all.

I’ve shared some images, the tour itself was fascinating, but not everything is worth a picture. One thing that is very interesting is the cooperation between libraries. For instance they have all the original work and notes of Octavia Butler – one of these days someone will rediscover here and do some serious research. She was approached just a year before she died and asked what she planned to do with her works, she had no idea. Therefore she was thrilled to donate it all to the Huntington, since she grew up right here. I’m sure she enjoyed the gardens and was thrilled to know they wanted her work.

In other cases somebody will offer documents and the Huntington will refer them to other institutions that may already have something in that field.

Then of course I went and saw the quilts and other objects like:A beautiful example of embroidery.Or these ivory clothes pins. Now I forgot to check, it is probably whale bone ivory. Since these are from the northeast. Clothespins today may have a clasp to open and close, but the size and shape hasn’t changed much.

I’m going back to spend more time in this exhibit.


Stained Glass in a mausoleum

Have you figured out that I enjoy visiting cemeteries? I think it started 40 years ago, we were newly married and on our way from Israel to the US. We stopped in Germany to visit a college friend of Joel who had recently married a German woman. In a small town near the Rhine, she took us to the local cemetery. She wanted to show us the little Holocaust memorial there. What struck me, was that the cemetery was full of Jewish names, but the town had no Jews. Since then I find myself walking through cemeteries – to learn about the history of a place.

So when an opportunity came up to visit Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, I signed up. This was another Atlas Obscura event.I am going to have to look into the concept of Mausoleum, it appears to be a big deal. Some people not wanting to be buried in the ground. These structures are beautiful. Here is the exterior, as you can see, there is a lot of stained glass.From the inside, looking out through the windows.There was also beautiful tile work, this building was constructed in the 20s’ decorative tiles were the rage in the LA area.   No use asking our guide, he was more interested in the Hollywood connections. I didn’t even ask who made the stained glass. The historical society says the glass is from LA Art Glass companyI find it very interesting, people run to Europe to see this kind of beauty. It can be found here in Southern CA, in churches and also in mausoleums. This one was designed in 1925 by Cecil E. Bryan. His specialty was designing mausoleums, and this is his crown jewel, he is buried here. This was the most expensive structure built in the LA area at the time. It shows, they used a lot of expensive materials. Some more examples of the glass.  I know that spiritualism and communing with the dead was all the rage at the end of the 19th century. Is that why mausoleums became popular? Instead of returning the body to the earth, were they hoping to preserve the body in a beautiful temple in hopes that they could reunite the body and the spirit? I have no idea, just speculations on my part. A new wing was added in the 80s, guess who made the glass, yup, my buddies over at Judson Studios. One of the reason I love stained glass so much is that light is so much a part of the artwork. This artwork is in the Chapel of the Pasadena Mausoluem. Btw, these were separate from the cemetery. At some point Mountain View acquired both. The famous person buried in here is George Reeves,  Superman from the 1950s TV show.

Our guide, Denny is also an actor and funeral director.  His interest is in Hollywood, so he informed us of all kinds of filming that happens here. The mortuary built two large coroner examination rooms, sets for the movies. It costs a lot of money to maintain a cemetery, being close to LA, this is a perfect revenue source. They also have a fake grave out on the grounds that is often used for filming. No pictures, sorry.The cemetery is also beautiful. Sure, a lot of the grass isn’t as green as poeple might like. It is a combination of tombstones above ground and flush with the ground. It’s not cohesive like Forest Lawn, but not as haphazard as Evergreen.Of course, famous people are buried here, probably one of the most famous is physicist Richard Feynman. We can probably thank The Big Bang Theory for that. This is where Joel found out about him. So yes, the episode of the gang visiting his grave, probably was filmed right here at his grave. You’ll notice, plain and simple.Another famous person,  Octavia was a local girl who grew up here in Altadena. Although when she died she was living in Seattle, someone wanted her to rest back home.

Octavia became a science fiction writer in the 1970s, Harlan Ellison was her mentor. Parable of the Sower is probably one of the best distopian novels out there. It upsets me that in order to keep feminism alive – feminists feel they must erase the successful people of the past. Today they scream about few women in Science fiction, or in the gaming industry. In order to do so, they have to erase the likes of Octavia, because it disproves their point.  Needless to say, I have no time or energy for grievence groups of any kind. Me, I prefer to celebrate the likes of Ocatavia.

For those who can’t make it in person, here is a 7 minute video filmed entirely in the Mausoluem, enjoy.



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.