Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Shawl Season

Click on shawl title for pattern link.
Ana Petrova's "Hug Me Now" Shawl. I just proofread this pattern and will be knitting it soon!

Yes, I know it will be 99 degrees in parts of Los Angeles today. However, out in Santa Monica where I work it's only 77 today! The evenings have been getting cooler, thankfully! It must be shawl season.
"Lady Mary's Lace"

Why are there so many shawl patterns on Ravelry? Why are all of my friends knitting and/or crocheting shawls constantly? There are many reasons. Here are a few:
1.  Shawls always fit. You don't have to worry about tight upper arms or button/bust-stretch.
2.  Shawls are perfect to keep off the chill when the seasons change.
3.  Shawls are nice cover-ups on an airplane instead of those questionable airline blankets.
4.  You can wear a sleeveless sun dress or top and cover up your arms (or other body parts)
5.  Shawls are perfect for air-conditioned places.
6.  You can make a shawl for a friend and not worry about the fit.
7.  There are so many great shapes for shawls: Triangle, rectangle, circle, half-circle
8.  They can be worn like a big scarf.
9.  If you wear mostly neutral-colored clothing, a bright shawl can spark up your outfit.
10. When you are not wearing your shawl, you can drape it across the back of a chair and decorate the room.
"Cascading Stylish Shawl"
Conclusion: You can never have too many shawls!
"Blommig Sjal"
"Teeter Totter Shawl"

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Monday, August 29, 2016

From Cars to Cloth

1929. H.R. Gillingham Co., DeSoto Car Dealership. Security Pacific National Bank Collection

I drive up and down La Brea Avenue all the time. I've been a customer at Diamond Foam and Fabric, 611 South La Brea Avenue, L.A. Every time I drive by this interesting building, I wonder what it was originally built to house. I came across a photograph in the Los Angeles Public Library Archives the other day, listing this business as H.R. Gillingham Co., a DeSoto auto dealership. 

2016. Diamond Foam and Fabric, 611 South La Brea Avenue, L.A. Click on Photo to see a larger view.

This building was designed by the architectural firm of Morgan, Walls and Clements, built in 1927. I'd call this building ornate Mediterranean/Spanish Revival Style. This firm was also known for it's Art Deco and Streamline architecture.
Surprisingly, 611 South La Brea is almost intact. Diamond Fabric retained the lines of the exterior as well as the large interior with a mezzanine upstairs. Diamond expanded to include the building next door too, not as grand as the original building, but chock full 'o fabric! Some days, they have a basket of La Brea bread for their customers to munch on while browsing for fabric. The bakery is nearby on La Brea.
1929. Interior of DeSoto Car Dealship. Security Pacific National Bank Collection. Today this interior and loft is filled with racks of fabric!

I wish more of our Los Angeles buildings were almost intact like this beauty!

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Friday, August 26, 2016

National Dog Day

August 26th has been declared National Dog Day since 2004. Although I do not own a dog, many of my friends and family do. I can barely take care of myself, let alone be responsible for other lives! I admire those who are so dedicated to their furry friends. National Dog Day was invented to bring attention to the plight of animals and encourage adoption.
There are many ways to celebrate this day. If a dog lives with you, give them a special treat today; take them for a ride in the car or a romp on the beach; take their photo and post it on Instagram; snuggles are always appreciated!
I like to celebrate by honoring the dog SYMBOLS in my life! Here are a few favorites:

The Pup Cafe, Washington Blvd., Mar Vista
Ellen's Poodle Collection
Sascha Brastoff Poodle Plate
Poodle Jewelry and Collectibles
Larry with Ellie's Trapunto Poodle Pillow
The BEST Dog!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Made in L.A.

The Totems of Kenzi Shiokava

On Sunday afternoon Larry, my brother, Ken and I walked over to the Hammer Museum. Mom conveniently lives next door! I like the Hammer. It's entirely manageable for a short visit. The current exhibit is called "Made in L.A. 2016," highlighting the work of Los Angeles area artists. Much of it was of the conceptual variety. There were also many applied arts pieces. Especially intriguing was the wood work of artist, Kenzi Shiokava. We ran into our friend, storyboard artist Michael A. Jackson and he told us more about his friend, Kenzi. Kenzi is culturally Japanese but was raised in Brazil. It seems, that during Shiokava's Los Angeles years, he was Marlon Brando's gardener while pursuing an art education! You can view more of Kenzi's artwork here
Here are some more pieces from this fascinating show:
Adobe bricks made from Los Angeles soil
Painted backdrops from the Luxor Hotel, Las Vegas
Chunky Knit!

Even though this Museum is manageable, Ken and I were tired. We rested a bit while Larry zoomed around. Where does Mr. Larry get his energy?
Tired Siblings

"Made in L.A." is open until August 28th. If you're in Westwood within the next few days, stop by and see it! It's FREE!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Happy 99th Birthday Uncle Mort!

We're lucky to have longevity in our family! My Dad's older brother, Mort is 99 years old today.  On the other side of our family, my Mom's older sister, Mae will be 99 in December. My brother and I hope to be around for a few more decades!
Sunday was the last day of my brother, Ken's visit to L.A. We started out the day with brunch at Hillcrest Country Club, courtesy of Auntie Mae. It was just the five of us. We really had a chance to visit. I like small groups!
Larry, Ken, Mae, Roz (clockwise)

After brunch, Ken, Larry and I visited the Hammer Museum in Westwood. I'll save those photos for tomorrow's post.
In the evening we drove to Uncle Mort's house in Playa del Rey. This was a pre-birthday celebration. Since Ken was leaving town Sunday night, my cousins decided to have two small parties for the on Sunday and one today.
It was a wonderful gathering. We enjoyed a Chinese feast, cake and ice-cream and PRESENTS!
Uncle Mort at 99
Eric, Rob and Amie
Top Row: Larry, Max, Ellen, Natasha, Eric, Carol, Rob, Amie. Bottom Row: Roz, Ken, Mort and Benji
Barbara and Mahong flew in later in the evening. This is Barbara at Mort's 98th Birthday!
Ellen and Carol
Natasha and Max

Everyone had a great time!

Kathy and her adorable doggies
Later, there was coloring!
Sunset over Playa del Rey
Happy Birthday Uncle Mort!

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Saturday Field Trip

My brother Ken was in town for a long weekend. We haven't seen each other for 4 years, even though we're in constant contact through e-mail and phone.This was an abbreviated trip, but we really covered a lot of ground!
The Graying of the Bloom Siblings

We had various meals with family members on both sides of our family throughout the weekend. I wanted at least ONE day of Ken's vacation to be a re-introduction to his home town. Larry and I planned a fun-filled day, seeing sites around the City.

I picked Ken up at Mom's place in Westwood on Saturday morning. Our first stop was Westwood Music. Ken used to frequent this shop quite a bit when he lived here. The shop looks the same, with major improvements to the workroom!
The original neon sign at Westwood Music, in business since 1947

As we drove back to our house to pick up Larry, I drove Ken through our old neighborhoods, past our previous homes, shops and schools. Ken was amazed at the traffic.  Welcome to L.A., Bro.
After a quick tour of our palatial estate in lovely Wilshire Vista, Larry piled us into the car and drove to the Watts Towers. Ken had never visited this "eighth wonder of the world." I do love this place. The genius of Simon Rodia is evident in the longevity of these structures. Of course, various preservation projects are ongoing here, but the Towers are extremely impressive. We had an excellent tour guide!
After looking through the two art galleries attached to the site, we made our way up the Harbor Freeway to Echo Park. More traffic.
Ken's selection of Mexican food in Pilot Mountain, North Carolina is slim. He's always up for tacos when he visits L.A. My favorite taco place is Guisado's. Their corn tortillas are made onsite and extremely flavorful. Amazingly, there wasn't a long line at 1pm on Saturday! We each enjoyed various tacos. Yum!
Shrimp Taco at Guisado's

Next stop, a few miles west to Wacko / Soap Plant / La Luz de Jesus. You may have read about THIS online. We just HAD to see it in the "flesh." Also, Wacko is an excellent store for books, kitsch stuff, soap and other accessories! There were lots of people in the back gallery, taking selfies with Styrofoam Donald.
Statue, "The Emperor Has No Balls," by Ginger
Next stop, Barnsdall Park to tour the recently restored Hollyhock House, designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. I was disappointed that a few of the previously opened rooms were off-limits, but Ken enjoyed the flawless woodwork in the main areas of the house. 
Hollyhock House, Barnsdall Park

I saw a cute lady in the restroom applying black and white make-up to her face. I asked her if this was for some Day of the Dead celebration (even though it's August, not October). She said that she and a group of friends were having a Panda Party in the park. She invited us over for refreshments.  Cute. The next day we were at the Hammer Museum and saw this art movie with guys dancing around, topless, wearing panda hats. Did I miss some sort of new holiday?
Preparing for the Panda Party

After Barnsdall, we took a drive up Beachwood Canyon to see if any of the little courtyards that Ken and Ginny lived in decades ago were still there. Negative. Most of the bungalow courts in the Canyon are gone, replaced by monstrous apartment buildings. Sigh. More traffic and hordes of crowds in Hollywood as we made our way back to Chez Bloom-Underhill.
We rested a bit and managed to play a few songs on our various guitars, banjos and ukuleles. I hadn't actually jammed with my brother in probably 30 years or more! That was fun. If Ken and Ginny lived in Los Angeles, I'd be a much better uke player. He's an inspiring musician and teacher. Larry recorded bits and pieces of our jam. If it's acceptable, I'll post it in a few days.
Time to hit more traffic and head over to the Original Farmers Market for dinner and music. We had a lovely dinner at the Singapore Banana Leaf. One of my friends was appearing with a local band, but they were the second band on the bill. We were exhausted from our busy day and left early. Sunday was another action-packed day. Stay tuned.

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