Friday, May 18, 2018

We Call 'em Jax

It's Jacaranda time in Los Angeles. Our street planted Jacaranda trees about 20 years ago, up and down the block.  I love those purple flowers when they're in bloom, but not when the die and form a sticky mess on the streets, sidewalks and my CAR!
Most of the trees on our street are medium-sized. Some streets in neighborhoods nearby have huge Jacaranda trees that form a purple canopy over the street. It really is quite beautiful.
Large Jacaranda Trees on South Fairfax, between 18th St. and Venice Blvd.
I'm hoping for a bit more damp weather so that the trees really bloom in full and give us a few more weeks of purpleness. THEN, they can start dropping their stinky flowers! Here's a short story of how the Jacaranda tree was brought to Southern California.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Ukulele Workshop

Photo by Ian @ Boulevard Music
I've been attending Cali Rose's Ongoing Ukulele Workshop for at least two years, maybe a bit longer. We meet at Boulevard Music in Culver City. Players of all levels are in the class, from advanced beginners to intermediate players like me.
Members of the group can suggest songs to play. Cali has a library of song arrangements. We also choose songs from Jim and Liz Beloff's "Daily Ukulele." Usually, we just have the chords and lyrics to a song. In class we figure out an intro, ending and a few embellishments along the way. Cali is a really good teacher, very patient and creative! She always pushes us to learn a bit more.

We just finished a four-week session. For our last class on Saturday, Cali surprised us by bringing in a U-Bass player to accompany us. Tom Kuwata plays U-Bass with The C.C. Strummers, the group that Cali leads at the Culver City Senior Center.

Tom Kuwata on U-Bass

Tom's bass accompaniment REALLY made our group sound good! All of our treble-cleff ukes sounded great with a "heavy bottom."  We quizzed Tom a bit about his U-Bass playing. He's only been playing bass for a few years. Of course, he plays ukulele too. Tom played the tuba in his high school marching band. He told us that when he was in high school, he played with an L.A. community band that performed in the Pasadena Rose Parade four times! I guess playing tuba in high school pre-disposed Tom to becoming a bass player!

This session, we played some old-timey favorites like EDELWEISS, FLY ME TO THE MOON, PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON, VINCENT and GLORY OF LOVE. We managed to fit in one song that is only about 35 years old instead of 50+ years old, STRAY CAT STRUT. For this last session Cali added ROUTE 66 to our repertoire. I really have to find some newer music to bring to the workshop!
Our next session starts on Saturday, May 26th. Call up Boulevard Music and register. We have lots of fun! If you are a beginner and want to learn to play the ukulele, Cali teaches a beginning class too. Call Boulevard for the schedule.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Mother's Day 2018

El Torito Restaurant, Santa Monica

Mother's Day 2018 was casual. I could have invited my Mom over for brunch at our house OR I could have brought brunch to her apartment. My Mom likes to GO OUT! She likes colorful, festive restaurants with palatable, American-style food. Larry and I like to frequent classic L.A. restaurants and out-of-the-way places. My motto is, "you can't eat atmosphere." My Mom, not so much. Atmosphere is important to her.
I was trying to think of a nice, bright place with non-spicy Mexican-American food close to her place. El Torito on Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica was the perfect spot! It's a big, colorful building, lots of easy parking with good margaritas and non-threatening food. Mom loved it! She thought it was all so festive and fun. 
It was early. The bar was empty, but see how colorful and festive the decor is!

I must say, I was impressed with our strawberry margaritas. The waiter actually made the guacamole table-side. I've never seen that before. I should have asked him to go easy on the lime!

The food is corporate, no surprises here. It was tasty though and the important thing was that Mom had a good time. Roz and Larry ordered the shrimp enchiladas. I had a combo plate with a taco and chili relleno.
Shrimp Enchiladas
Taco, Chili Relleno, Rice and Beans with mini-Corn Souffle
We had a fun time and lots of laughs. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Mini-history lesson. This huge Santa Monica Business Park where El Torito and many office buildings are located was once the site of Douglas Aircraft. Larry's Dad worked at Douglas for decades. It's right next to Clover Field aka the Santa Monica Airport. This part of south Santa Monica, known as Sunset Park was chock full o' little war-time bungalow courts and small houses. There are still a few of the 1930s buildings left, but you have to hunt for them among the big homes and fancy condos. 
Douglas Aircraft Co., post WW II, now the site of the SM Business Park

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Then and Now

I drive through downtown Culver City all the time. During rush hour, the area is a traffic nightmare. The configuration of the streets and how they cross each other, sometimes diagonally, can make for many a traffic headache. This is one challenged "grid." You may think that you're heading west on Washington Boulevard, then all of a sudden you're on Culver Boulevard. The traffic signals are confusing too. During non-traffic times, you can wheel around the lanes and correct your direction. This area is way more conducive to walking than driving.
When I drive past the Meralta Office Plaza on Culver Boulevard, I'm reminded of the old Meralta Theater that once stood there. In my day, the Meralta was a smaller movie theater that showed second-run movies, often for a budget price. I remember going there a lot in the 1970s and 80s.
Meralta Theater, 1971
The original Meralta was built in 1924 at 9632 Culver Blvd. by two ladies, Pearl Merrill and Laura Peralta. Their combined last names formed the name of the theater. Earlier, they had owned the Meralta Theater in Downey. Pearl sold real estate and later insurance in Culver City. Laura was a seamstress at the movie studios. A fire during World War II forced the theater to be closed until it could be rebuilt. Pearl and Laura lived in a apartment above the theater. They had a room in their apartment with a large one-way mirror plate glass window that looked straight at the movie screen.
Laura Peralta and Pearl Merrill, after the Meralta Theater had been rebuilt
I'm not sure when Laura and Pearl sold the theater, but it continued into the 1980s under other management. In 1983 the entire building, including the theater and businesses on either side of the theater was torn down. This was the beginning of the revitalization of downtown Culver City.
The Meralta Theater, 1928
The last days of The Meralta, 1983
In the late 1980s I went to an income tax service in the Meralta Office Plaza. The updated, 1980's Spanish Revival architectural style of the Plaza was never a favorite of mine. The Plaza is still there, now part of the very successful DTCC area.
Meralta Office Plaza, 2017
I am glad that the City of Culver City has preserved and restored many of it's historic downtown buildings. All is not lost.  

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Thursday, May 10, 2018


The Little Knittery, Vermont Ave., Los Feliz. Photo from their website

Last week we celebrated MaryJo's birthday. I wrote about our afternoon HERE. It's always fun figuring out what type of gifts to give to MaryJo. She's artistic, crafty and full of fun. MaryJo travels A LOT. She probably owns every imaginable travel item known. Lately, she's into embroidery and sewing. She's ALWAYS into knitting and crochet. I wanted to get her fiber-related gifts.
During the L.A. County Yarn Crawl our first stop was at the newly located Little Knittery in Los Feliz. I've always liked this shop. Kat Coyle is the owner and she has a wonderful eye for accessories and fabulous patterns. Kat is the designer of the Pussy Hat and the Come Together Welcome Blanket, two projects that I have been involved with.
I was delighted to see all kinds of colorful notions in the new shop. There were little felted animals tucked into the yarn shelves. I looked at the Kitty Cat and the Little Dog.
Felted Kitty
Dog by Twoolies
Twoolies also crafts SHEEP! Each animal is unique
Kat offered these great sew-on patches from Thailand
Remember when we used to sew patches and embroider on our jeans? It's back!
The patches come with thread..see that cute carrot? It's thread!

Of course, the shop is full of gorgeous yarn and sample patterns to inspire you. If I lived walking distance to The Little Knittery I would be there all the time! I'm so glad that the shop's new location is drawing lots of business.
I ended up buying the felted kitty and little dog and a bag of patches. I also found a really great map-style guide of embroidery stitches for MaryJo. I topped off her gift with a shawlette crocheted with yarn that MaryJo gave me last Xmas. It's an "Elise" shawl. The yarn is Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece. The yarn is 80% cotton and 20% merino, lightweight and breezy for summer. You can see details about the shawl on my project page.

MaryJo with her gifties
This was a fun gift to put together for a super fun and lovely person!

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Monday, May 07, 2018

MaryJo's Birthday

Mama's Shelter, formerly Hotel Wilcox (1926)

We celebrated MaryJo's birthday belatedly this past Sunday at brunch. We met in the heart of Hollywood at Mama's Shelter, which was recently made into a youth-oriented hotel, rooftop bar and restaurant. Originally, the building housed the Hotel Wilcox, built in 1926. 
Apparently, being a fireproof building was a coveted feature in 1926!

The designers did a great job in transforming this old building into a hipster magnet. It's decorated in lively colors, with casual furniture and has a carefree vibe.
We convened for brunch in the downstairs dining area which doubles as the front desk and lobby for the hotel. Foosball is featured.
Restaurant at Mama's Shelter

Brunch with Natalie, MaryJo, Brit and Darcy

They have a nice variety on their brunch menu.
Breakfast sandwiches, Chilaquiles, Lox 'n Eggs, Waffles and more

MaryJo spoiled us with party favors! She made each of us a darling little pouch with our initials on the front, in customized fabric, partially quilted. Inside was a lucky coin and a fancy bar of soap! Thanks, MJ! We love our gifties!
Adult beverages with monogrammed pouches!
The most important event of the afternoon was the opening of the gifts. MaryJo is so adorable and gracious. She's the most fun person to give gifts to
MJ's new kitty and hand-crocheted shawl
Natalie made this pouch. It's very reminiscent of the Beverly Hills Hotel!
Darcy's customized Shrinky-Dink Knitting Markers
Of course, there were MANY more gifts, above are just a few.  After brunch we rode the elevator to the roof to check out the scene. Whoa! The place was full of millennials eating brunch, drinking and gazing at the 360 degree view. I must say, the views from the rooftop are enchanting.
You can see the Hollywood Sign in the distance
The Cinerama Dome is a few blocks away. DTLA in the distance
There are all kinds of lounging areas on the roof, along with restaurant seating, a bar and the requisite d.j, providing a thumping soundtrack.

Darcy was delighted by the serape lounging possibilities
The Gilbert Hotel, across the street. Ripe for re-development
We ALWAYS have a grand time when we're together! I love my girlfriends!
Up On The Roof!

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Friday, May 04, 2018

Time for Sun Hats!

Click on photo to see hat descriptions

It's always time for sun hats in Los Angeles! Since the 1980s, I have become very aware of how the sun can damage our skin. Many of my friends have had various skin cancers due to excessive sun exposure in our youth. Oh yes. I remember the days of going to Santa Monica Beach armed with baby oil and a collapsible sun reflector to bake my skin into the perfect California tan. We'd stay at the beach for HOURS, trying to get that perfect brownish glow. 
Libelle Magazine, 1965

I'm lucky that I have an olive complexion and could withstand this extensive exposure. Thankfully, I stopped this pastime when I was in my early 30s. Now, I cover up as much as possible when I'm out in the sun. 
Time to crochet a cute summer hat for 2018! I tend to like modular designs, like the granny square bucket hat below. Click on the captions for each pattern.
Granny Square Sun Hat
Basic Bernat Bucket Hat
My Favorite Tin Can Hat

I really like the red straw number with the imbedded sunglass option, above. I wonder if I could combine the Basic Bernat Bucket with the 1960s design? What are you crocheting and/or knitting this weekend?

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Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery