Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Chanukah and Christmas Confusion!

Oh no! What are we going to do? Chanukah and Christmas are at the same time this year! Christmas Eve coincides with the first night of Chanukah. We are a multi-cultural family. I'm Jewish, Larry is a Generic Gentile. We celebrate both holidays. We light the menorah candles during Chanukah, eat latkes and think about playing dreidle. On Christmas we put up the aluminum tree, decorate the house and have some family and friends over for Christmas Day brunch.
Christmas Day, 2014 with Rhoda, Roz, Larry, Audrey and Jeff

Shall I decorate the house with red, green, blue and white? Shall we place only Chanukah decorations on our tree? What's for brunch? Well, I really don't have to worry about brunch. I serve the same meal every year, always a cultural Jewish feast: Lox, whitefish, bagels, cream cheese, rugalah, etc. After presents, we usually hum a few holiday tunes while I accompany the choir on my ukulele.
I was sad to hear that the Music Center will NOT be holding their Ukulele Christmas Sing-a-long this year. I always LOVED meeting up with other festive ukulele strummers to sing holiday songs. Maybe this event got too popular or the Music Center staff just couldn't schedule it this year. Sigh.
Hundreds of Ukulele Players Show up for the Music Center Holiday Uke-A-Long. Sigh.
I will pull out my little red notebook of holiday songs and brush up for a mini-home concert. However, I may just try to work up a Chanukah song for an online concert on Neil's blog! I participated in 2006. It's ten years later, so it might be time to participate again. 

I am totally obsessed with Ricky Hirsch's original song, "Spin Lil' Dreidle."  20 years ago, when Juke Logan and I were co-hosting KPCC's "Friday Night Blues Revue," I put the call out to all my musician friends to create a Chanukah blues song. We received quite a few great cassettes of original songs. Ricky's was my favorite. My brother, Ken has helped me figure out a few of the licks on this song and suggested some other jazzy chord inversions. Stay tuned!

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Monday, November 28, 2016

"Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown"

Chung King Road, Chinatown, L.A.

I love our Chinatown, especially on a cold, rainy November night. It's dark and mysterious, very film noir. The preview art show we attended at the Gregorio Escalante Gallery on Chung King Road is called "Dark Realism / Dark Surrealism," a perfect show for a moody night. The show opens officially to the public on December 3rd. You should definitely go!
We started our evening with some warm wor wonton soup at Foo Chow Restaurant, around the corner from the Gallery. This is a basic, American-style, throwback place with decent food. It's claim to fame is an appearance in Jackie Chan's movie, "Rush Hour." I especially like the mural on the side of the building.
Who is this mysterious lady, painted on the wall of Foo Chow's, Tokyo Rose?
After dinner, we approached the Gallery and saw that only a few people were inside. Perfect! I like preview shows because you really have a chance to actually see the artwork without a hundred people crowding the place.
The show in the main gallery, curated by artist Chet Zar, was a group show. The most prominent piece was this very large painting by Christopher Ulrich called "The Last Supper" with some rather different and disturbing images than the original!
"The Last Supper" by Christopher Ulrich, oil on wood, 202" x 106"
The downstairs gallery was completely taken over by the sculptures of Myron Conan Dyal.  These are very surreal sculptures and installations, made from papier-mâché, wood and other objects, painted wild colors. The basement is dark, with a low ceiling. The sculptures were lit with smaller lights. Scary-good.
Sculptures by Myron Conan Dyal
We must remember to visit Chinatown more often on winter nights! 

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Private Dining Area so we can be rowdy!

Once again, we convened at the Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey for our annual family Thanksgiving feast. We had 24 family members attending this year...three tables of eight...perfect for conversation! It seems that we sat by age group. Larry and I have graduated to the old folks table!
The main dining room was filled with old friends. It was a very festive room. The food was plentiful and tasty. The stuffing was the only item that I didn't like. It had a strange consistency. Argh! Stuffing is the BEST part of the Thanksgiving meal. I'm cooking a mini-T-Giving meal for us today with perfect stuffing!

It's always fun hanging out with my cousins. We have lots of laughs and always have things to discuss. Thankfully, we did not discuss politics. Most of us are on the same side, so I don't think there would have been any knock-down fights if we had talked about the recent presidential election.
Old Folks Table

Middle Agers

The highlight of the evening was a performance by our COUSIN STRUMMERS Ukulele Ensemble. We did not have a chance to rehearse and some of the cousins have only been playing uke for a short time, but I think we did a fairly good job! We played some old favorites that everyone could sing along with. Next year, we may have to work up a few more tunes and practice in advance! Videos are forthcoming!
Laurie, Amelie, Carolyn, Marilyn and Ellen.  Brooke joined us on a few tunes too!
There will be more photos, including a group shot, as the pictures from others roll in! Happy Thanksgiving sweet family of mine!
Jackie, Josh, Brooke, Megan

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Robo Village = Santa Claus and Robots!

WOW!  On our way home from Joshua Tree, we swung by Palm Springs yesterday. I'd heard about Kenny Irwin, Jr's Robo Village from a few art friends. I knew that the installation would not be open until Thanksgiving, but I thought we could catch a look from the street.
We were not disappointed! There were workers inside the compound putting the finishing touches on the installation before the opening.

I would love to see the installation at night when all of the lights are turned on! This folk art installation encompasses the area around a Palm Springs Movie Colony home at 1077 E Granvia Valmonte. It is massive. It is whimsical. It is a futuristic winter wonderland. Kenny Irwin, Jr. has been building this installation for almost 30 years.
Walking around the perimeter of the compound was magical. I couldn't quite believe that this lovely, peaceful and expensive neighborhood co-existed with the Irwin installation! There has been some controversy and permit issues recently. Hopefully, these will be resolved before the grand opening tonight. 

I certainly hope that the public will, once again, be able to enjoy this local invention of ingenuity and fantasy! Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!
To see a video on Robo Village and Kenny Irwin, Jr., click HERE

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Oh, the Sights We've Seen

Bob and Jacquie at The Sky Village Swap Meet

Here are the highlights of our three-day stay in the trip-city area of Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and 29 Palms. First, it was wonderful hanging out with our good friends, Jacquie and Bob. It's been too long since we've seen each other. We must get together more often!
We arrived Saturday, late afternoon. The four of us drove out to the 29 Palms Inn for a delicious dinner. The restaurant at the Inn really has the best food in the trip-city area.  We didn't tour the property or walk over to the Oasis of Mara because it was dark and cold, but we have been there many times. 
Holiday Decorations for Sale at the Swap Meet

Sunday morning, after breakfast we headed over to the Swap Meet at the former Sky Village Drive-in in Yucca Valley. In years past, this was an excellent place to hunt for vintage treasures. Larry and I have been buying items at this Swap Meet for over 20 years. On Sunday, the pickin's were slim. Nothing to buy, but the grounds have turned into a folk art area. It was fun just walking around and seeing the metal sculptures, art installations and western settings.

Next stop, Antone Martin's Desert Christ Park (1951). Martin sculpted many biblical figures and placed them in scenes throughout the hillside. There is a chapel, bandstand and larger church nearby. During past earthquakes there has been damage to many of the statutes, but a non-profit organization is making repairs to many of the pieces.

We stopped for lunch at La Casita Restaurant and then continued our tour.
Art Installation using found objects by Noah Purifoy

We drove out to the Noah Purifoy Art Installation and Foundation in Joshua Tree. We've been here in years past and wanted to see if there were any changes. Yes, we noticed that some of the old installations were gone, possibly felled by wind. We also thought that a few of the pieces may be in storage. Last year, LACMA had a retrospective of Purifoy's career in the arts and many of the installations were transported to Los Angeles. Even though the area has changed, it was still a wondrous walk-through.
Toilet Bowl Sculpture, Noah Purifoy

On our way back to the hotel to rest up for dinner, we stopped at the Institute of Mentalphysics, built mostly in 1947.  We've been driving by this place for decades, but never toured it. We were lucky to get past the guard at the gate and drive onto the property. I'd heard that the place was designed by architect, Frank Lloyd Wright and his son, Lloyd Wright. Since there was not a conference in progress, we wandered the empty grounds. The place is a time-capsule of post-war architecture and design. We visited the chapel, the dining hall and gardens. There are cabins scattered throughout the property. One day, I'd like to take a tour of the entire area.

Monday, we met up with my friend Lisa for brunch at the Crossroads Cafe in Joshua Tree. We had a hearty meal and then headed into Joshua Tree National Park. The vast spaces and rock formations of this beautiful area always take my breath away.

We hiked to the dried-up Barker Dam. This was supposed to be an easy hike, but for me, parts of it were challenging. It helps to have billy-goat climbing skills. We made it though and were rewarded with more beautiful scenery.

On our way out of the Park, Larry stopped at his namesake street, Underhill Road, so we could snap a photo.

It has been a wonderful long weekend with our friends in the beautiful High Desert! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Blue Debut

Personal blogs are all about the person, right? Me, Me, Me, Me, Me! Well, OK then!
Last month Larry, Natalie and I went to the L.A. Eyeworks frame sale. I always find something I like, but I already have quite a collection of eyeglass frames, so I limited myself to finding bright blue frames. If I saw something else that caught my fancy, OK, but only two pairs!
I found several pairs of aqua frames. I even tried on some silver frames (too old-lady). I finally saw a pair of medium blue frames in a pleasing shape for my face!  Yes! Those are mine!
Fabulous Blue Eyeglasses

I have a few blue items in my wardrobe, not many. Most of my clothes are black, black, black and white, burgundy, rust, orange, brown and black. Now that my hair is silver, blue is a nice compliment. 
In the past two weeks since I've had my new eyeglasses, I've exhausted my blue wardrobe. I decided to whip up a quick, bright blue triangle scarf to wear with my blue specs. I should have it completed this weekend.
New Blue Specs and "Elise" Scarf
Blue "Elise" scarf specs:  Free pattern HERE, Red Heart "Soft" Yarn in Royal Blue, Size "I" crochet hook.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Beautiful Hi-Desert

We're heading out to the tri-city area of Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and 29 Palms on Saturday afternoon. We haven't visited the area in over four years! We used to visit the desert at least six or more times a year. Life in L.A. has been busy. 
We're meeting our friends Jacquie and Bob in Yucca Valley and will tour the area from there. I hope to see some of those beautiful rock formations in the Joshua Tree National Park.
We'll definitely head over to Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace on Sunday night for barbecue and music. Pioneertown has an interesting history. It was founded and built in 1946 by a group of Hollywood investors (including Gene Autry and Roy Rogers). They wanted to build a living movie set featuring a western frontier town with facades for filming. On the outside were stables, saloons, jails. On the inside were ice cream parlors, a bowling alley and a motel. Many films and TV shows were filmed out there. Larry and I have been visiting since 1990.
Yucca Valley, 1952. Herald Examiner Collection. Things have changed considerably!

There are also lots of art galleries in the area, including the world famous Crochet Museum. One of my crocheted tacos is part of the permanent collection!
Crochet Museum in an old Foto-Mat!
My crocheted taco is part of the permanent collection at The Crochet Museum

Another favorite spot is Desert Christ Park. Read about the history of this fascinating place HERE.
Sculptures by Antone Martin at Desert Christ Park

We always like to take a mini-hike around the grounds of the 29 Palms Inn. The Oasis of Mara is on the grounds. The restaurant at the Inn is really one of the best places to eat in the area. The food is always fresh and creative. The bar is usually hoppin' on a weekend night!
Poolside at the 29 Palms Inn. We used to see Huell Howser here often!
Bar and Restaurant, 29 Palms Inn

Mostly, I'm looking forward to the clear, crisp air of the beautiful California desert and hanging out with our friends, Jacquie and Bob!

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