Whitnall Highway

A book we received for our anniversary.IMG_3991I am really enjoying the all the books that offer walking options in LA, each has it’s own spin.  We chose a walk close to home, from North Hollywood to Burbank and back. This is an area I drive through a lot, but of course walking is a whole new experience.

Have you heard of the Whitnall Highway?P1120843I had seen the signs, I had driven by this park, I even wondered why this large swatch of open space exists in a very dense part of the valley.  Now I have my answers.

George Gordon Whitnall was a pioneer in the field of city planning.  He designed this highway alongside the power lines.  The book describes this as a proposed Freeway, but the Whitnall Freeway was a different plan that never came to fruition either.

Starting at Cleon and Whitnall Highway in North Hollywood, the power towers dominate the skyline.P1120815Nothing permanent can be built underneath them. So here it is just a dirty wasteland. On either side are the residential streets, small homes and apartment buildings.
P1120817A business that flourishes under power lines are nurseries, they often lease this land for their plants, since they can be easily moved.P1120818Or can they?P1120821

Another use is a dog park.P1120820A very large area, rather two fenced in areas with a lot of people and dogs.

A receiving station, a very large functional power station stands here.  The building is of course Art Deco.P1120822

The design elements don’t refer to any particular historic period, they are simply decorative.P1120823I do love this urn, part classical, part whatever the designer wanted to do. A real mishmash. The banana leaves give it another lovely So Cal touch.P1120824Then we enter Burbank and things change.P1120828Burbank unlike North Hollywood spent money to make this median a real park.P1120831With grass, people playing soccer as well as a jogging trail and workout equipment. P1120832In the original plan for the highway, there was meant to be a two mile tunnel under Griffith Park. Here is the view up to Mt. Lee, on the other side of these Radio towers is the famous Hollywood Sign.  You notice how flat this is, man made flat. Mr. Lee planned to build a mega mansion in the 1930s and leveled out the rounded peak.  The home was never built but the towers uses this land.

While walking in the park we came across a fallen bird’s nest.P1120844The engineering is amazing, not sure this was ever uses since a bird will usually line the nest with softer material and this one is lacking that. So maybe it blew down before the bird finished the job.

The highway of course was never completed, even the sections between Burbank and North Hollywood weren’t graded. So today between many of the homes there are plots of empty land with towers right between the homes.

Next up, other sights on the walk.


Close to home

I had heard about the Onion, the Church of the Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society in North Hill. Right here in the Valley.P1120668It is very clear why it is called the OnionP1120670I only took pictures from the outside, I’m sure it looks good from the inside as well. The time to visit is during a service, I’m not taking my camera into someone’s religious service, they are praying, not being a spectacle.P1120669I didn’t do a lot of research about who the architect was or exactly when this was built, my guess is sometime in the 60s. The building has actually aged well.P1120672Sometimes it takes looking, interesting buildings can be found everywhere.P1120741This is what December looks like in the Valley.  We do have a few trees that change color, it may not be New England but it is pretty. Of course right next to the deciduous tree we have a citrus tree full of fruit.P1120742Just like back east, the leaves cover the front yard.IMG_3951This a flowering tree one doesn’t see back east in December.P1120744People have interesting garden decor.P1120743And of course the Christmas decorations are out in force in peoples yards.P1120748Or apartment balconies. P1120745The angle of the sun these days creates wonderful effects on the most mundane items. P1120746Like the light fixtures on buildings.



The Modern Quilt guild is growing by leaps and bounds. Now there is a Valley Modern Quilt Guild.  We have had two meetings so far. At our first meeting we were given a challenge, make anything quilted based on water. ando-hiroshige-whirlpool-and-waves-at-naruto-awa-province_i-G-13-1341-47HS000ZFor my inspiration I found this Japanese block print and my eye was immediately drawn to the whirlpool.P1120062So I pulled out my solid blues and traced the basic pattern on the fabric, then cut out corresponding light blue and white Thai silk that some one gave me. I proceeded to do needle turn appliqué.P1120102I love the silk, but it frays easier than quilting cotton. Since this is a wall hanging and I did try to use very tiny stitches, this won’t be a problem.   Half way done, but not completely happy with the result.  I have a vertical line with the blue and that is really bothering me.P1120281So I changed it, much much better. The quilting of course reinforces the idea of an eddy.  I even pebble quilted in order to give the idea of bubbles.  I even bound the quilt to continue the placement of the blues.P1120283And of course since this is based on a Japanese print I added a signature stamp.  It says nothing, I simply slashed and appliquéd.P1120284A close up of the quilting and how it reinforces the pattern. Which is why I love quilting, the three dimension design that is created by quilting is part and parcel of the whole design. Bas relief, not a two-dimensional painting.P1120286In this case, the back is a busy print, so the quilting gets lost. I put on a sleeve for hanging and my little label. I need to add the date as well.IMG_3825A lot of people took the challenge. Yes, mine was very well received.  Next month the challenge is fire, I am thinking of something very different. Maybe simple piecing so it won’t take me so long?


Orcutt Ranch

The Valley is huge, it has more residents than the state of Wyoming and covers  260 square miles.  It has the reputation of being a suburban wasteland – mostly by people who never set foot here.  Of course like any place else, it has many interesting historical sites.P1120150Rancho Sonbra Del Roble or the W.W. Orcutt ranch is such a place. It is on the very far western reaches of the valley. Not an area I frequent but I’ve driven by enough times that I figured it deserved a visit.P1120147Built in 1926 as a working ranch and vacation home for the oilman W.W. Orcutt.  One of the things I enjoy about my explorations of local areas is learning about important people who contributed to the LA basin.  Orcutt is responsible for using geology in oil exploration as well as discovering the fossilized remains at the La Brea Tar pits.P1120133Sonbra del Roble means under the Oak tree and this ranch has some beautiful old California Live Oaks.P1120135P1120172This old tree looks like it has needed the propping up for a while. Unfortunately I’m sure these trees are being affected by that nasty foreign beetle that came in with the shipping containers.P1120151These mighty oaks do come from little acorns.

The ranch used to have cattle and citrus. Today the cattle are long gone but some of the citrus sill remains. In 1965 24 acres became a public park, as it is today.P1120129P1120131A water pump stands on the ground and I simply couldn’t resist photographing some rusting iron.P1120152A wonderful connection between Orcutt and these local coyotes, since he discovered the bones in La Brea tar pits he was honored with the naming of the prehistoric coyote – Canis Orcutti, another animal may have been more impressive, but the descendants of his coyote are freely roaming both his ranch and the nieghboring suburban homes.Orcutt RanchThe adobe home is lovely,  Mary Orcutt lived out her days here,  by the mid sixties this was no longer a lonely ranch, Canoga Park had sprung up around it.P1120170The grounds are open to public,  the house and garden can be rented for weddings or special events. School children come to learn about the history of the valley.P1120157A rose garden and lovely tiles surround the front door.P1120164The large sundial with the famous saying, Grab the day.P1120181The house is built around a courtyard with a lot of shade.P1120177And of course a fountain with fresh water. There is a stream that runs through the property – when it rains.P1120180A lot of tiles, both inside and out.P1120167Of course I’m wondering if that discoloration happened during the firing of the tiles or later? I guess I’ll never know.P1120139Another material that is used as a decorative element in cement,  so unless someone brings out a cushion I’m not sitting here.P1120159A sculpture of a padre,  no the years haven’t been kind, the concrete is crumbling.P1120154Though not as bad as this mythical sea creature. Who despite the use of rebar has lost his arms, or maybe it was fins, once again, I’ll never know.

One design element that is all over the ranch, on the gate post, on the house is the swastika. No I won’t take pictures of swastikas. I understand that before the Nazis the swastika symbolized good luck and prosperity. I even recall that in the Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald created the Character Meyer Wolfsheim who has a company called The Swastika Holding company. Authors are prescient, in 1925 Fitzgerald had no idea what the swastika would come to symbolize, but it is ironic that the caricature of the Jew, is symbolized by that image. And I’m not cutting Fitzgerald any slack, he was antisemitic, sure, that was all acceptable in his place and class. Interesting how people forgive Fitzgerald because they love his writing, but don’t forgive Washington or Jefferson for owning slaves – when that was perfectly acceptable in their time.P1120184The ranch still functions, I don’t know how much citrus is harvested, but the orchards are well cared for. Also couldn’t tell you that this truck is still used, but it certainly looks like it is in good enough condition to still run.


Color at the Vintage Fair

I went back to the Topanga Vintage Market.  One persons’ junk is another’s treasure. This time it was all about capturing color on camera.P1110972Why is most old crochet done in acrylic??? Oh that’s right, back in the 70s that is what was available. Thankfully today many crocheters are using the same wonderful wool yarns that knitters do – and the results are obvious. At least I can say how much I love the colors here.P1110968I never understood the wire beaded flower craze.  My grandmother had some of these in a vase. No she didn’t make them herself, maybe nostalgia will prompt someone to buy these.P1110978I’m sure someone will wear this, to me, it was just the explosion of blues that caught my eye.P1110969Ah, crewel embroidery. Not a bad job, but once again, modern embroiderers have finessed the art. There is something very clunky about this.P1110970This I would wear! P1110975Some things shine and sparkle and reflect color, even if they have no color of their own.P1110973Now that I look at this picture, I’m really noticing how lovely this silver spoon is. I’m glad I have the picture, not the actual item – to much work to keep shiny. Even on the sale table the tarnish shows.


Crochet Lady

Years ago there was a wonderful mural alongside the Hollywood Freeway1179096705_41b1dcde92_oThis is what she looked like, until she was painted over in 1986.

Ken Twitchell has been able to repaint this tribute to his grandmother over on a wall at LA Valley College.P1100119Of course I love this for so many reasons. First of all, a granny square shawl – what’s not to love!  I took this pictures a few weeks ago, I need to go back and see if the mural is complete.P1100120I’m also noticing that the two are not exactly alike, not just because of the configuration of the wall space, the  shawl is completely different, but that’s ok, artist prerogative.P1100122I have no idea how murals like this are painted, it looks so photographic.P1100124P1100125Either way, I’m thrilled that she is back. A tribute to the artists grandmother. I am also thrilled that a whole new generation of women has discovered the wonders of fiber arts – be it crocheting, sewing, knitting or anything else that one creates with ones own hands.


The big clown in the Valley

One of the icons of North Hollywood is Circus liquor, or to be more exact, this:Circus LiquorThe 32 foot tall neon clown.

The liquor store has been at the corner of Burbank Blvd and Vineland Ave. for 50 years.P1090928The scary clown is both on the sides of the building as well as front and center in the parking lot.P1090921If it weren’t for the massive programatic ‘billboard’, this would simply be another corner liquor store.P1090900This being part of Los Angeles, you have to go big and outrageous.P1090926As in, double sided 32 foot neon clown – perfect to turn anyone into a coulropohbic – someone who has fear of clowns.  I need to drive by at night to get an image of him all lit up. This used to be a very sketchy neighborhood, but things are changing, nearby on a side street there are a number of small businesses, most of them related to the film industry. But I did notice Brite-Lite Neon Corp is right around the corner, a neon company that has been in business since the mid 1950s.  They have some pretty impressive clients now, they also have a picture of this clown, but no where can I find any information about who actually built this.P1090918Just for size comparison, notice the keg.P1090920The back side of the store, that faces an alley has a very interesting mural. I was a few months  late, any earlier I would have seen the artist  Kiptoe  painting this.  At least he has video showing him at work – fascinating.

Explore your neighborhoods!  Some people feel that have to travel far and wide to see interesting things, not so, so much is happening right in your own backyard. It may be very different from what is happening in mine, but is worth paying attention to.



Topanga Vintage Market

Lately my posts are more about what I am seeing and doing about town. I haven’t stopped making things, not by a long shot. Some of the items have to wait to be shown – because they are gifts.

I haven’t been sitting around moping, I’ve been out and about, exploring the city and my own little corner, The Valley.P1100001Although the Topanga Vintage Market has been around for a few years, I just discovered it this weekend. It takes place on the  4th Sunday of the month in a large parking lot at Pierce college.  So parking is free, entrance fee is only $3 and yes, one has to deal with the heat in the summer. Most of the vendor sell ‘antiques’, one persons’ junk is another person treasure.

This quilt may for for sale, it has very good workmanship, it also has the ubiquitous small floral fabric that was ‘quilting cotton’ in the 70s and 80s. What is unusual is the solids, heck that almost makes it modern!P1100008More quilts and unfinished tops. Once again, that floral.  The color combination here is giving me a headache. The yellow is fine, I can see why it was combined with the floral, problem with those florals is that from a foot away all you see is muddy dots, nothing reads clearly. Anyway, I am very impressed with the design, each six cited star is cut from the solid fabric, and the triangles are inserted with a y-seam, something many quilters avoid. The resulting Hexagons are fun.  The quilter gave up though and never finished the project. I wonder if I every met her years ago when I still went to the San Fernando Valley Quilt Guild?P1100017This doll is made from Cheater cloth, she was among many toys being sold.P1100003A very scary rocking horse. Must have been in someone’s garage for years. P1090997These fellows are garden ornaments, there was a whole menagerie of upcylced animals, I had to capture the goat.P1100005Not all items are old, instead of just taking a picture, I could have use one of these parasols. Did I mention it was hot?P1100013So much to see! So many pictures to take, I found myself drawn to glass.P1100012This orange is for my friend Becky.P1100002Once upon a time, people smoked in their homes and had things called ashtrays for their cigarettes, they also used something called matches that came either in a small box or a fold-over case.  Watch some old film noir, you’ll see what I’m talking about.P1100016Blown glass lamps and  a very strange chandelier, I checked it out, I think someone took the time to paint it pink, I’d love to see it lit at night.
P1100006Also for my friend Becky, a teardrop trailer. Clearly people want to buy the trailer since that is the one item that isn’t for sale.P1100024Once upon a time these faucet handles were everywhere. though the purple has to be rare. There were two tables full, not sure what someone would use them for. Oh wait, Simon Rodia, the man who built the Watts towers used them for two purposes, as a stamp in the concrete and then as part of the mosaic itself.P1100025This sign stole my heart, Gilmore Gasoline is what built the Farmers Market, where I meet with my knitting friends every Thursday night.IMG_0702The dress and earrings are new, the bracelet is old fimo beads, I’m taking it apart and combining with other beads to make a necklace that will go perfectly with this outfit.