More time in Bakersfield

Standing outside Woolworth, looking over at the neon sign of the Padre Hotel. Time to head over and check it out.The hotel was built in 1928 and renovated a few years ago. I just took a few pictures. I just love the name and design of the cafe. Sort of harkens to the idea of a lunch counter in an old drug store. But look at the real pitchfork and the little tractor. Someone is extremely creative.The tin ceiling in the bar area.As well as this image on the ceiling, celebrating the hotel. I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express, which actually exceeded expectations. But this place looks really cool. The cafe, restaurant and bar were all hoping in the middle of the day.Back outside, a Beaux Arts building made of brick with that flat overhang of a roof. Built in 1894 as the Kern County Land company building.  It survived some serious earthquakes as well as that desire to tear down old buildings. I’m happy to say that many towns love murals, Bakersfield is no exception.  This is on the side of the Woolworth building.Around the corner is this massive mural, country music and a picknick basket. Unfortunately, the empty parking lot tells a lot, not much is happening here.Two years ago Zachary Thomas painted this large mural honoring American War Veterans.  From the Statue of Liberty, through a number of wars up until the wars in the middle east. I love how the statue has a three dimensional flame and the Iwo Jima Marines are raising a real American flag.Then there is the mural that really isn’t aging well. 30 years ago the artist Christo came to the Bakersfield to assemble his installation, yellow umbrellas in the Tejon pass. I was newly arrived in Los Angeles and I wasn’t very adversome in those days, so I didn’t go see them.  Just before they were removed a very strong wind killed a young woman who viewing them. Tragedy happened.

So I guess at some point someone painted this, probably around the time of the exhibition. Sad and peeling, I bet most people have no clue what this mural represents.

During the sewing retreat, a bunch of us went to Dewars, the ice cream parlor, it is on Eye st.This is the candy section, which was empty, the counter and tables in the ice cream section were packed with people.Everything here is old time. We took a number, then gave in our order and when it was delivered to us, then we paid.I got a double scoop Sundae with caramel sauce and nuts.  Another reason to get out and explore. Btw, we initially parked around the corner, it said Dewars, might have been their old plant. Someone across the street saw us and shouted over to us that the actual ice cream parlor is one block down. Who says people aren’t friendly and helpful?



Final stop of the vacation, Montreal, we crept into town in traffic reminiscent of LA and returned the car. Then hoped an Uber to our hotel in the old part of town. Turns out they are tearing up many of the freeways to build new ones. It’s such a joke here, that a street comedian even said: when cars are gone, we will be way ahead of the game because we won’t have roads.As you can see, this is a very large modern city.Down near the old Port is Rue St. Paul, today a fun busy pedestrian street. The old port has been rehabilitated, this is where the cruise ships stop as well as a huge Ferris Wheel and other fun attractions. They even have something they call a beach, really, too small to get a pictureA section of St. Catherines St. can you tell it’s the gay part of town?!?!  How much do you need to hit us over the head?  I like the concept of the colored balls, I’m a little over the rainbow flags everywhere, we get the message. Btw, looking for a coffee shop here – no go. Only bars a full fledged restaurants. A guide told us this may be the last summer for the balls, it must be a lot of work to put these up and then store them for most of the year.Unlike Quebec, a lot has changed in the old town, like most citie. Luckily some of the old buildings are standing. The red brick is the oldest skyscraper, built in the Beaux-Arts style. Next door is a wonderful Art Deco.This panel really reminds me of Gladding McBean tiles in CA, it is different, but this is common in Art Deco. Actually, it looks more Art Nouveau, but there is a period of overlap, so it’s all good. Turns out that every ‘English’ statue must have a ‘French’ statue facing it. Sorry, didn’t get the French one here. Lord Nelson is so high up on a plinth, that I had to be pretty far away to get this picture and see the details.  This is all about him beating Napolean at Waterloo. Already lost his hand. Also, keep the birds off! Someone with a sense of humor about the whole thing. So we have an Englishman and a Frenchwomen turning their noses at each other. But the poodle and bulldog want to be friends. The statues aren’t right next to each other, but on opposite corners of a large office building.A favorite son. There are other murals dedicated to Leonard Bernstein, apparently he is buried here as well.

Since we are in the old Jewish neighborhood, we had to stop for this:Luckily for us, I took the picture after we had our smoked meat sandwich, we got in with no line. Was it good? Yes, as good as Langers, Brents or Wexlers? No, but it is a traditional thing to do, and why not support a 100-year-old institution. By the way they only take cash, and if you give them American dollars, there is a surcharge. I hope they have a very secure system to take the money to the bank a couple of times a day…Across the street, Jewish headstone being carved, I bet Leonard Bernstein had his carved here.We climbed Mount Royal and literally bumped into cousins from San Fransico. They had just dropped their daughter off at college in Boston. Since I was posting on Instagram, they knew we were in Montreal, but when we met, we didn’t know they were there. Of course we had dinner together and then the next day, we once again just bumped into them. That was a highlight of the trip. Here is another sight we saw in the park. A white squirrel, not an albino, the eyes would have been red or pink. He has full pigmentation in the eyes and yet is white. Maybe with all the snow in Montreal this works for him. A local woman told me this is a very rare squirrel.

And thats it, I’m home, I need to get back to creating things. I did knit some on the trip and hope to share that soon.


Time to finish up with Quebec

I really loved Quebec, even though someone in Montreal stated very clearly: Quebec is government and tourism. Very true, but they do tourism very well. Those staircases! I just can’t get over them, with all the snow and ice how are people not slipping and falling? You’ll never find me living in that climate with that kind of trek just to get to the front door.There are plenty of stairs outdoors, it’s a walled city, with many points in and out, not just gates. Most stairs were stone, but this looks like a newly renovated wooden staircase. There is a funicular going down to the lower city, except it isn’t really a funicular. Each car travels independently, so no counterbalance. Originally, This was enclosed and used for merchants to get things from the top, which is where most of the city is, down to the businesses here. As tourism grew, they opened it and made it a tourist attraction. So now the food merchants have to navigate the stairs to get supplies… really, we saw it happen.There were a number of great murals, not as many as Montreal, but fun to see. This is right next to the funicular. In the open area is a memorial to Joliet, he and Father Marquette left from here to explore and discovered the upper midwest and the Mississippi River. Which explains why the names Joliet and Marquette are scattered throughout.  They lost all thier diaries from their first trip, which prevented others from following in their footsteps. Joliet disappears, I had heard in Chicago that he was killed by Indians, but here in Quebec they didn’t want to say.The streets down here are fun, full of restaurants and very nice businesses, sure an occasional t-shirt shop, but mostly nice shops.  We went into the covered market, were very happy to see Hebrew. We ended up buying some croissants and blueberries that we had for breakfast. The blueberries were amazing! Not like the ones we get here.

And now for some architecture.The Hotel Clarendon, the first hotel in Quebec. (well, the first to survive a fire, have I mentioned that fire was the biggest enemy in any city?)  This is Art Nouveau, which is why Quebec has more in common with Europe than most North American cities. This is a European style, that didn’t really make it here. Maybe because of how expensive it is to create these intricate designs.There are quite a few metal workers who would love to have this kind of commission again.  Unless it’s a very wealthy private estate, I don’t see any builder willing to pay the price.This Art Deco is right next door! How cool is that! The new style next to what it replaced. Today this is also an hotel, although originally it was an office building. There are a handful of other Art Deco buildings in Quebec. By the 1920’s the businesses and building was happening in Montreal, which is where we are going next.


Water, water everywhere

Since I live in an arid climate, visiting places with a lot of natural running water in a thrill.Here I am at High Falls gorge, look at the power of the water.They call this part of the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks. When the highest mountains are just over 4000 feet this makes sense. Out in the west those are hills, not mountains. Our local Lake Arrowhead is at about 5000 feet, and that’s not high at all. But I always say, celebrate what you have. The Adirondacks have a lot of running water and that is worth celebrating.This little park is privately owned and very well maintained, good paths, bridges and explanations about the geology, fauna and flora.Now this is a real waterfall. Outside Quebec, the Montmorency falls. Large, powerful and very impressive. They used to have a hydroelectric plant here, but they built bigger and more powerful ones and returned this to its natural state. Maine gets a lot of it’s power from Quebec.No hiking up 480 stairs, just the first 40. No taking the Via Ferrata trail, we went up in the cable car.With my fear of heights I was able to cross this bridge twice. First of all, it’s stable, it doesn’t sway, it is very large. I looked straight ahead, never down. I took this picture after crossing the bridge, looking back at where I came from. Later, we’d go to that little gazebo for another look at the power of water.View from the gazebo, my camera died just has two people zipped by on these zip lines.  All I managed to capture is their safety lines. Looking at the St. Lawrence River and the bridge that connects Ile De Orleans to the mainland. Good thing we had a car and could drive there. This is one of the places the gal back in the Chocolate Shop told us to go to. It was so worth the trip. All farmlands, and people selling their produce. We had lunch at a local restaurant that produces black currents, everything had that in it, it was wonderful. A few miles later, we are visiting an art gallery, and the rain started pounding. It is rare to capture raindrops, and yet here I did, the rain was that strong.

Later we stopped at a cheese shop and indulged. All in all, if you get to Quebec, go to Ile de Orleans. I had thought that the Chemin Du Roy would be like this, it wasn’t, so this was a real treat.We had some very hot days in Quebec, local children enjoying the fountains.


Quebec, part l

I made reservations in Quebec, was very pleased with the Hotel Champlain, right in the walls of the old city, with parking!!! We only took the car out once, but it was nice having a place to park the car while we hopped on buses and boats to get around.I guess I should start with the most photographed hotel in the world. The Hotel Frontenac. When the city was created, they chose to build the city up on a hill, so that they’d need less walls. The city is 400 years old, ancient for North America. It is where the St. Lawrence River narrows, so it’s a great place for a port. At the time, the fur trade was all the rage. Very very hardy adventurous Frenchmen went into the backcountry and came back with furs, which were shipped from Quebec to Europe. Someone needed to build a port and a town for that to happen.On all the tours we took one word was repeated over and over again – fire. Fire has always been the biggest enemy in any city and for years people have tried to figure out how to safeguard buildings. Today a restaurant is in this building, the oldest surviving building in the city. In Quebec’s case, war and bombardment destroyed many of the old buildings. This is a typical house, built of local limestone, it would be limed, with white lime to make the stone less porous. The roof would be slanted, they get up an average of 10 ft. of snow in the winter, flat roofs will collapse. There is a railing along the roof line to prevent big chunks of ice falling, but then you do have to worry about icicles. The roofs were made of tin from barrels, recut into tiles. The red color came from mixing cow blood into the resin. Nothing was wasted.Here is an example of the tin being cut into tiles for the roof.

Speaking of rooftops, here are a few more amazing ones.The advantage of taking the double-decker bus, I get a better view of the rooftops. This and many others are copper that has gotten this green patina over time. The combination, of green, red, tin and other shades of brown, really makes the skyline very interesting.

The French got here in 1534 and ruled for over 200 years. Those early years were just fur trappers, traders, and the Catholic Church. The British had communities in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, although those were basically under French rule. At some point immigrants stopped coming from France but still came from the British Isles. That was probably balanced out by the high French Birthrate. In 1759 a battle was fought in what is today, The Plains of Abraham. Both the English and French Generals died there. Years later an Obelisk was erected, honoring both generals. Sorry, I didn’t take a picture. My comment is: Canadian Nice! No where else in the world would someone honor both the victor (English) and the defeated (French) in the same monument. 

English Victorian homes, this is the first time the houses are set back a ways from the street. Some more of those outdoor metal or wooden staircases, even the British Victorians adopted them.Down in the lower city, are four houses that were renovated with four different types of roofs from Quebec’s history. On the left, the red roof as it probably would have looked originally, it would have been made of wood – fire hazard. Then a slate roof, but that was very expensive, the cut tin roof and the British tile roof.Flag of the province.


On the way to Quebec

After a lovely wedding weekend, we headed north back to Canada. We didn’t turn on the gps, just drove north, following a map. We figured we’d end up somewhere between Montreal and Quebec, preferably not on the main road.

We did find a tourist information stop, where a few towns were recommended. We missed the fort, but found ourselves in Beloil, buying chocolate. The friendly sales girl wanted to know what the heck a couple of Los Angelenos were doing in a small town in Quebec, just exploring. Since she was from Quebec City, she gaves us a very good tip on what to do there, more on that later.We have some wonderful florists here, with amazing window displays. How nice that in summer, Martin can have this beautiful display outside.There are many beautiful churches here, unfortunately, these days many are no longer in use. This one in Beloil still is.There was a large cemetery next to the church, of course I had to check it out. Joel went and took a walk by the river, there are only so many cemeteries he can visit.  One marker really stood out from the rest.I went to check it out.An eight year old boy, sad, very sad. I didn’t check to see if in later years his parents were buried nearby. If they are still alive, they would be very very old.Another church across the river. I could have just taken pictures of churches there were so many.In Beloil, a 100 year old business, this old town isn’t very big, but it now has restaurants and that gorgeous florist. I like the paint job here, reminds me of colorful New Orleans. Other than this old town, most of Southern Quebec looked dull, main drags that could have been anywhere in Canada or the US, just all the signs are in French.

For some reason we decided to bypass Drummondville which is quite a large city and go on to Trois Rivieres, which is on the main highway. So we drove through driving rain, by the time we got there, we were tired. We drove to the old part of town, the one or two hotels didn’t look good, so we kept going. All we could find were old 1950s motels that looked like they hadn’t been updated at all. So back to town we went, we found an Italian place for dinner. The food was pretty awful, but they kindly directed us here:I took the picture the next morning. We waited half an hour for the owner to come over from her restaurant. Turns out we got a very nice room for the night. Since we had to wait, she even took $5 off our bill, which wasn’t expensive to begin with.While driving through Trois Rivieres I saw a lot of this, outdoor circular staircases going up to the second floor of buildings. Later in Quebec I got the explanation that was very common throughout the Province. Rather than waste space inside on staircases, they are outside. I get it, 100 or 200 years ago people simply lived in weather. They didn’t control it like we do today, so exiting to such a staircase would be normal. I understand that these kind of flats are popular in places like Quebec or Montreal – until you have a baby and need to schlep up and down them with a baby and stroller, especially in winter.

Then we headed out on the Chemin Du Roy towards Quebec. We were expecting to find a coffee shop, no luck, a few towns in, we stopped at a gas station that had a convenience store. The coffee and croissant were fine, but this is advertised as a scenic day trip. Scenic yes, amenities, not really.Yes, a beautiful church among the cornfields.We arrived in Quebec to a whole new adventure.


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.


Annual trip to Israel

Hardly any pictures from Jerusalem this time.Spring has sprung and the almond trees are blooming.

Then I went down to the coast to stay with friends in Kfar Saba. They recently moved into an apartment in the center of town.

Up on the roof of their 8 story building, they have a very nice rooftop room and patio. I took pictures. This part of Israel is the narrowest, 12 miles, from the sea to the Palestinian area. Looking northwest towards Netanya which is on the sea, right beyond those tall buildings.The big water tower in the middle of town, I could almost reach out and touch it.To the east, where the trees are is the edge of Kfar Saba, right beyond is the very large Palestinian town of Kalkiliya. I could have done a pano photo, 12 miles is really nothing at all. I have to drive further than that to get to my son’s house in LA.On Street level in Kfar Saba, lovely old trees. This community started with the First Aliyah in 1898. Most people think modern Israel started with the creation of the State in 1948, not so. In the late 19th century the Jews started returning to settle in Israel, at the time, under the Ottoman Empire the land was mostly empty. A few ancient cities (Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed) that has mixed populations of Jews and Arabs, and a lot of empty swampy, malarial lands. Young Jews came to be farmers, started the Kibbutz movement, started places like Kfar Saba which were originally agriculture in nature.  Through the early 20th century, more Jews arrived, as well as many Arabs from Syria and Egypt, the population changed drastically.Today, Kfar Saba is lovely suburbia, with a lot of High Tech companies nearby. I am interested in things like fabric and yarn stores.I found two yarn stores, chock full of acrylic yarn, a little bit of cotton as well as sewing supplies and embroidery thread. No real fabric.  The sign on the door says: Air conditioning, it gets very hot and muggy.  So I understand why wool is scarce. I also understand why there isn’t bamboo or other natural fibers. It’s just too expensive, and knitting in Israel is like it was in America in the 70s.  Those who are up to speed with what is going on get their yarn elsewhere. Israelis are the most traveled people around.Someone took one of the old homes downtown and created a compound. A new home for themselves while using some of the older structures as a delightful antique store. The red sign is pointing towards the store.How cute is this?There is an area where they offer free coffee.There is a little workshop, I could see they are painting pots, pans and other items that look like toadstools. Here shown with its own toad.You can make a cup of coffee and sit out here enjoying the yard.At a more modern bar, I found this decor. I love how Israel is really getting into bright happy colors.

Next post, food.



Flora and Fauna

These dogs at Duplooy’s have a very good life.So do the birds, they have their own special feeding area, this Aracara is related to the Tucan.  I love the markings on his beak, that make it look like sharp teeth.Yellow wing Tangier, lucky for me they had a bird guide right there. Although I must say, the people who work here do know all the names.A vulture cooling its wings. The Kinkajou, a little marsupial that comes down for bananas most nights.Not all birds are alive, this is the doorknob into a resort in San Pedro.A spider monkey enjoying the Mayan ruins. We also saw an agouti, the picture was so blurry, not worth sharing.How often have you seen a Charlotte’s Web spider web??  Tiny but so perfect.I wasn’t very close to this iguana, we were floating by in the river – he is yuuuuge!A frog decorating a fence. Happy fellow. A tunnel made out of living bamboo.A very narrow tunnel in a banyan tree.Doesn’t get any redder than this.Or otherworldly than this.

I have one more post with odds and ends. The vacation was wonderful, it was even better coming home. That is the sign of a good vacation when we have a great time, yet we really appreciate our life here at home.




This and that in New Mexico

As you know, I love tile and mosaics, both were on display. especially like these stair risers in Santa Fe, look how the tiles create a secondary design, which really the focal point. A close up of the entrance to Old Town, mosaic using tiles, many broken tiles, others shapes that are made for this purpose. Outside a local museum, using just the broken tiles to create floor designs. None of those shapes here, the floor needs to remain flat.Incorporating animals into the architecture, an owl for me!A rabbit for Becky.One cannot be in New Mexico and not have one of these ram skulls as decoration, it’s obligatory, just like the red peppers.Speaking of red, nature is busy providing its own reds…… and orange….… and yellow.

Albuquerque was established in 1706 alongside the Rio Grande river. A freshwater source is a must when starting a community.We walked along the river path.The army corps of engineers created a more permanent channel for the river and its tributaries. They did the same in Los Angeles but concreted the whole 54 miles, well, except for the Glendale Narrows. I wish they had left the river bed natural, but at the time they were just so gung-ho about the biggest project they ever were involved with.Ducks, Canada Geese and soon Cranes will all enjoy this waterway.As do these turtles, this red-eared slider is native to this area. Although many like him have been given away at school carnivals and then released in other waterways where they become invasive pests. At least this little fellow is where he belongs.

That’s it for this trip, I had an amazing time and am looking forward to more visits in the US, there is so much to see and do.