Friday, June 24, 2016

Clear the Brush!

Bel Air Fire, Stone Canyon Road, 1961. Photo by Jon Woods for the Valley Times.


It has been hot, hot, hot in Los Angeles for the past week. Driving to work this morning (from east to west), as soon as I crossed Sepulveda Blvd., there was a mist on my window. What? Light rain? It only lasted a few seconds, but at least this small bit of dampness will help with all the dry brush on our golden hills! 
Fire season has come early to Southern California. We are surrounded by fires in the San Gabriel Valley and nearby Santa Barbara. We've had a very dry year and there will be more fires to come, I'm sure.
One of the worst fires in my memory was the Bel Air fire of November, 1961. The Santa Ana winds were blowing, fanning the flames. So many homes were lost. My Aunt and Uncle owned a home in Bel Air and I remember my Uncle telling me that he was up on the roof with the home's Caretaker, both wielding garden houses to wet down the wood shingle roof and keep the sparks from igniting. It worked! Marvin and Louis save the house when so many structures all around them were damaged.
LAFD, near the Bel Air Fire, 1961. Photo by Alan Hyde for The Valley Times

Click HERE to see KTLA-TV news coverage of the Bel Air fire.
As a direct result of the Bel Air fire, the City of Los Angeles initiated a series of laws and fire safety policies which included the banning of wood shingle roofs in new construction. There were also new laws about hillside brush clearance. Thankfully, these laws stand today. 
Clear the brush around your home! Now!

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Throw Back Thursday - Love-In, Griffith Park, Reenactment

Celebrating the '70s in the '90s, Griffith Park, photo by Larry Underhill

In the late 1960s and early 1970s Love-Ins were held near the Merry-go-Round at Griffith Park, Los Angeles. I was on the fringes of one of these events around 1971. It was a major scene. So many people were there, wearing all of their hippie finery, bright colors, long hair, fringed jackets and more. I was there with a small group of girlfriends just to see what was going on. We really weren't of the hippie persuasion, but who doesn't like the message of peace and love? We only stayed long enough to eat our picnic lunch and catch a few rays.
Over 20 years later, in 1992, someone organized a reenactment of the Love-Ins at Griffith Park. Larry and I donned some 70s clothes and ventured over there. We managed to see this cool VW van in the parking lot, painted in bright colors. We snapped a few photos, hung out for about an hour and left....kind of similar to my 1971 experience!
Griffith Park, May 1967. Photo by Kent Kamouse

The first Love-In at Griffith Park was on Easter Sunday, 1967. Per photographer, Henry Diltz, from the book "Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Legendary Neighborhood" by Michael Walker, "The love-ins were semi-spontaneous gatherings of the counter cultural tribes of Southern California in the vein of those in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. A love-in was just a  Sunday afternoon when the word of mouth was, 'everyone's going to meet there around noon.' Easter Sunday was always a love in.  Some musicians would bring instruments, sometimes there would be organized music, but otherwise it was just hundreds of people meeting in the afternoon much as they would in the evening in a club. And they'd dress up really nice, wear tie-dye or beads, colorful clothes."
Griffith Park, 1967. Uncredited Photo
I found another description from a Love-in participant on The Hip Forums. This is by S.H., "There were a couple of hundred people all gathered on a hill as I recall, flat on top and perfect for looking out over the beautiful view of the park. There we all were in all our splendor, a kaleidoscope of color pulsating to the beat of the music. Smiling faces and eyes wide with wonder and love in our hearts, celebrating life in peaceful assembly. There were booths set up and beautiful people sitting around talking and singing, laughter filling the air like tiny tinkles of bells ringing in chime with the music."
The message of peace and love hasn't left me in all those years. The peace symbol has always had a powerful meaning. If only we could all adhere to this message. Sigh.
One of these days I'll make one of these peace symbol afghans, like my friend Diane crocheted a few years ago. She did such a great job in perfect colors!
Diane's "Peace, Love and Granny" Afghan

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tee Time

Knit Cancun Boxy Lace Top

Summer!  It's hot in Los Angeles. Time to break out the tee-tops. What do you do when you're a knitter and/or crocheter in the summer? You can't stitch stuff with wool! Even a rayon/wool blend is too hot to wear in this scorching heat. The only solution is to make something in cotton yarn. Regular ol' kitchen cotton is too thick. We must find a thin, light-weight cotton yarn or tape. The only problem with thinner cotton is that it takes too long to knit! If we crochet with thin cotton, this is fine, but the fabric is usually too transparent and holey and one must wear a camisole or tank underneath the tee-top. Then you're wearing TWO tops! This defeats the purpose of a cool top!
Crochet Tribe Tee

So, do I want to wear two tops OR do I want to wear one top during this heatwave?  ONE TOP!! This means I'd either have to crochet a tight or linked stitch or knit a top. I recently signed up for a Tunisian crochet workshop in July. I've been practicing the basic Tunisian stitch.  I like it! It's fast, like crochet AND it creates a solid fabric like knitting. I might experiment with some cotton yarn in my stash. Here's a really cute Tunisian shell pattern by Robyn Chachula:
Tunisian Crochet Vanessa Shell

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

2nd or 3rd Saturday in June?

Usually, World Wide Stitch in Public Day is the second Saturday in June. This year, for some reason that was not explained on the international site, the celebration was on the third Saturday in June, the 18th.
I met up with the Santa Monica Yarnies at The Coffee Bean on Ocean Park Boulevard. We usually meet every Saturday from 3-5 at this location. We are considering moving to Clover Park for the summer. We should have been at the park on the 18th. There were so many of us, that we barely fit at the big table! Great turnout!
Cathy, Leo, Carina, Marge, Sherry, Lisa, Meri
Barbara S., Karen, Sarah, Barbara F., Cathy
Cathy, Leo, Carina
Barbara, Eve, Karen
Marge, Sherry, Lisa, Meri
Sorry, I missed taking photos of Marian, Jamie, Lauren and ME! We missed a few old members, but look forward to more yarny adventures this summer!
Twins, Jason and Georgina weren't all that interested in yarny pursuits


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Monday, June 20, 2016

Expo-Fail. Slide Show-Success.

Union Station, DTLA

Friday, Larry and I drove to our Metro Station at La Cienega and Jefferson. There was plenty of parking at 5:30 pm on the first level. We hopped on the Expo Line toward downtown L.A. The train was packed with Dodger fans and people travelling home from work on a Friday. It was a 30 minute ride to USC and Exposition Park, then we rode under the Harbor Freeway and made the turn north on Flower Street. At 23rd Street, the train came to a stop. We were told that we'd be here for about 10 minutes. After about 20 minutes, we heard some garbled message over the PA system and people began to get off the train. We knew we were cooked when we saw the train conductor get off the train and walk away! What?
We were stranded at 23rd and Flower. Argh! We figured we were about 5 miles from our destination, Union Station. We walked a block over to Figueroa Street and summoned Uber. The car arrived in about 4 minutes and expertly took us through the back streets to Union Station. Thank goodness for Uber. We could have called a taxi, but that would have cost twice as much. The Metro has to work out some issues. This was really bad public relations to leave passengers stranded without explanation or alternate transportation to the 7th and Metro Station.
We were planning on walking over to Olvera Street for dinner, but since we had an 8pm start time for Charles Phoenix's "Los AngelesLand" slide show in the old ticket area at Union Station, we ducked into Traxx for dinner. Traxx, of course, was understaffed, but we managed to have a delicious Caesar salad and bowl of gumbo.

There were TONS of people in the ticket hall audience for Charles' show. He was wearing his rainbow suit as he tossed pieces of King's Hawaiian rainbow bread to the crowd, extolling the similarities between downtown L.A. and Disneyland! 
King's Hawaiian Rainbow Bread

Charles then proceeded to give us a hilarious lecture, illustrated by his colorful slides of DTLA. We had a wonderful time and saw lots of friends. Charles' show makes me want to really investigate the little shops in Chinatown!
Charles Phoenix autographs one of his many books

On our way back to the train platform we marveled at the beauty of Union Station (1939). The tiled floors, raised ceilings, arches, furnishings, everything is so elegant! Luckily, we didn't have any problem trains on our way home!





One of these days I'll take the Los Angeles Conservancy Tour of Union Station and learn all about it's beautiful architectural details!

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Ukulele Summer

Picasso's Dream Girl plays the ukulele!

My 4-week ukulele workshop with Cali Rose at Boulevard Music in Culver City ended last week. We're taking off a few weeks and then we will start up again on July 9th. Cali is also teaching beginning ukulele classes at Boulevard Music toward the end of July. These are great classes! They are small, personal and tailored to each group. Come on, join the class and have some fun this summer! 
I'm excited that a few of the Ukulele Ladies will be taking the workshop with me in July! We do have a good time when we uke together!
Natalie, Mary Jo and Brit
In the meantime, before our July workshop starts, I plan on practicing and gearing up for summertime fun. You never know when someone may want to have a little backyard hootenanny along with their barbecue!
1964, Valley Times Collection, LAPL.org
There are LOTS of ukulele events in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas this summer. I hope to see you at one or ALL of them!
I'll be up near Seattle at THIS festival in September!
In addition to Cali Rose's workshop at Boulevard Music in Culver City, there are a number of uke groups around L.A. too: Huntington Beach Groups; Southbay Strummers in Torrance; Pluckin' Strummers in Atwater.  Check your local music store for ukulele lessons and groups!  It's fun. Let's jam!

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Backyard Shame

Backyard of Shame

Every year, just before the summer season is about to begin, I beg Larry to fix up just a portion of our backyard so we can have a shaded area for a picnic table, barbecue and a few lounge chairs. I've lived here for 25 years. For the first 14 or so, we actually had a lovely, grassy backyard. THEN, we tore down the original 1926 garage and built a photo studio and 2-car garage at the back of our property. This left a large pile of dirt between the studio/garage and the house. In 2009 we built an addition to our home. This made our backyard much smaller, but our house infinitely more livable. There's still plenty of room in the yard for a patio area.
Garage/Studio in the background. Room addition, 2009.

This is all I'm asking for, but with an umbrella!

I do not like to kvetch online, my husband seems immune to guilt! I will try once more and let the world know that Larry is a backyard slacker! PULEEEEZE, just clear an area, put down a few pieces of plywood, some potted plants, a picnic table with an umbrella and string up some lights! Done! Backyard heaven!
This could be us, LARRY! (If only).

I do not want any presents for my July birthday. I need a patio! I'm cryin' here!

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Flag Day

June 14th is Flag Day. This day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777.  In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag day.
In light of recent tragedies in the United States, I like to look at our flag as a symbol of freedom. According to various sources, the colors of our flag signify the following:  White is a symbol of purity and innocence; red, hardiness and valor; and blue signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.
During my younger years, the flag was burned, stomped on and vilified by people in protest against the Viet Nam War. Our flag came to represent the establishment and those condoning war. It was not fashionable among my set to display or wear anything resembling the red, white and blue. It has taken me over 40 years to come to terms with recognizing the flag of the United States as a symbol of freedom.
It has been disputed whether or not Betsy Ross designed our original flag. Whoever is responsible did an excellent job. The contrast of red and white stripes, along with the splash of blue in the corner with bright white stars is a classic. We can emulate this brilliant design in our yarny work!
Yarny Flag Designs
However you feel about our flag, you must admit, it is a striking design!

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Los Angeles, 1939

This is a repeat post from 2011 with a few minor changes.
Click on photo to make larger

I was looking through my copy of "Los Angeles in the 1930s: The WPA Guide to The City Of Angels." This guidbook was re-issued a few years ago with an introduction by David Kipen, owner of Libros Schmibros, a used bookstore and free lending library in Boyle Heights. 
This book is a WEALTH of information for people interested in the history of our beautiful City. Basically, the book chronicles everything available to the tourist and resident during the year 1939, along with a bit of history. There are chapters with photos and diagrams on architecture, making movies, art and education, industry and commerce, recreation, street scenes and trips out of Los Angeles....along the highway. There are listings for restaurants, hotels, roller rinks, beaches and more.
Architecture Photos in the 1939 WPA Guide to Los Angeles
Each section of the book for various areas of the City contains a "tour" of sorts detailing the highlights of that area. When you're in the Wilshire and West sections of L.A., don't forget to visit Coulter's Department Store...."located on Wilshire Blvd. between Ridgeley Dr. and Hauser Blvd., a four-story commercial structure designed in 1938 by Stiles O. Clements and Irving L. Osgood, is one of the few large buildings of a very modern type in Los Angeles." Nearby, "renowned as the scene of motion-picture 'world premieres,' the Carthay Circle Theater (open only during performances) 6316 San Vicente Blvd., is a white concrete building trimmed in bright blue and dominated by a high tower ornamented with multi-colored tiles and equipped with searchlights. The theatre is something of a repository for Californiana." 
Oh, how I wish both of those buildings were there today....in all of their splendor!
1939 Los Angeles Coast. NO Marina del Rey!
When I was a child, my parents held a few birthday parties for me at the Rollerdrome. I knew it was on Washington Blvd. in Culver City, but I wasn't sure of the exact location. Well, The "Guide" has the address, 11105 W. Washington Blvd. Sadly, the dome-shaped building that I remembered is gone. Thanks to Google Street View Maps, I can see that it is now a nondescript office building.
I was most interested in seeing the restaurant listings for the Beverly Hills area. That's where my mother's family lived and where we grew up. There are only two restaurants that were still there when I was a kid, Armstrong & Schroder, 9766 Wilshire Blvd. (later to become the western branch of Nibbler's) and Lawry's Inc., 150 No. La Cienega Blvd. (across the street from the current Lawry's, now the Stinking Rose Restaurant). Other places listed that I'd heard my folks talk about: Bit of Sweden, 9051 Sunset Blvd., Bublichki Russian Cafe, 8846 Sunset Blvd., (both in nearby WeHo) House of Murphy, 4th St. @ La Cienega (just outside BH), Perino's Roof, 9600 Wilshire Blvd. @ Saks Fifth Ave., and The Victor Hugo, 233 No. Beverly Dr.
I can't wait to read the rest of this book!
Another chapter that jumped out at me was the one on tours outside of Los Angeles. You should read the route to get to Palm Springs! Oy! It must have taken a full day to get to the desert before the freeway was built. Hey, wait a minute. I do remember traveling all the way down La Brea until it turned into Hawthorne Blvd. and continuing on blue highways to the desert when I was a tiny girl. I didn't pay too much attention to the route. I was usually asleep by the time we reached Palm Springs!
La Cienega Blvd. & Wilshire, Beverly Hills, 1930. 
Photo by Herman Schultheis, courtesy of LA Public Library Archives

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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Romeo's, Ram's Johnie's, Bernie's

"Bernie's" Coffee Shop, photo courtesy of Hidden L.A.

For about two weeks, historic landmark, Johnie's Coffee Shop on the north/west corner of Wilshire and Fairfax in the Miracle Mile district was transformed into Bernie's Coffee Shop. This was a temporary headquarters for Bernie Sanders' election committee. While the famous Johnie's neon sign is being restored, artists erected a Bernie's sign in it's place. There were also various murals and signs pertaining directly to the candidate. Very clever!
Photo by Hidden L.A.
Photo, KABC News, 2016

This location has an interesting history. In 1955  Louis Armét and Eldon Davis of Armét & Davis designed the building. It was originally called Romeo's Times Square. It became Ram's Coffee Shop in the early 1960's and soon after was named Johnie's. Johnie's was serving coffee and food until 2000. Luckily, this beautiful example of "Googie" architecture has been preserved and was designated as a historic cultural monument in 2013.
Romeo's Times Square, 1955, photo by Jack Laxer
I love the rainbow stripes of Johnie's roof in this photo by Annie Laskey, 1978!
Johnie's Coffee Shop, 1978. Photo by Annie Laskey

The transformation from Johnie's to Bernie's was fun and a clever idea. I look forward to seeing the fully restored Johnie's neon sign soon! I sure wish this was still a functioning coffee shop!

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Monday, June 06, 2016

Trolling for Patterns

I troll the Ravelry "new patterns" section often. I always find it inspirational to see what other folks are knitting, crocheting and designing. This is a perfect procrastination project, trolling for patterns, much like the actual knitting and/or crocheting of projects! Instead of doing something useful like cleaning, cooking or organizing my closets, it only appears that I'm being useful by producing yarny objects. Most of the time, these yarny objects are not necessary, but they're usually so soft and adorable!
Here are a few patterns that have caught my interest. Click on the titles to be re-directed to the patterns:
Market Day Bag
Pandi Ski Mask
Charleston Hat.  This hat is knit AND crochet!

Eckstein Sweater
Bright Chevron Dishcloth
San Francisco Purse

During the summer I will try to concentrate on smaller projects. Having a sweater or afghan on my lap during hot weather is not a pleasant practice of procrastination!


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Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery