Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Tradewinds are Calling

We are visiting the Big Island of Hawaii in February with a gang of friends to celebrate a special birthday. Larry and I are leaving a few days early for a two-day stop in Honolulu. We were there almost 6 years ago for our 20th wedding anniversary. I miss it and look forward to returning.
I'll be bringing my special, embroidered tiki bag (courtesy of MaryJo), along with a crochet project

We really do not have to do any prep for this type of a vacation. It's all about casual...flip flops, shorts, muu muus, t-shirts and comfy clothes. Of course, we'll all be bringing our ukuleles!

Larry loves his Hawaiian shirts. Reyn Spooner is a favored designer. Larry found a very cool Reyn Spooner shirt the other day called "Catalina Seaplanes." 
"Catalina Seaplanes" Hawaiian Shirt by Reyn Spooner

It arrived on our doorstep yesterday. What a cool print! Not only does this print feature the famous Catalina seaplanes, but you can see The Tuna Club, The Casino and the Airport in the Sky! These are all the Catalina landmarks that I visited as a child.
Detail: "Catalina" Shirt

After we return from the Hawaiian Islands, we MUST visit Catalina Island! We haven't been to our honeymoon spot (Avalon) in decades!

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Venice Oil Fields

I'm reading a book right now by Ray Bradbury. It's not one of his science fiction novels, but rather a mystery novel in the vein of Raymond Chandler. The book was written in 1985, but takes place in 1949, Venice, California, called "Death is A Lonely Business."  I love reading books about my town in an era before I was born. I do remember Venice Beach in the late 50's and 1960s as rather run-down. Lots of musicians and artists lived in the area because it was inexpensive. Naturally, the run-down, bohemian atmosphere led to more restaurants opening and higher real estate prices. The pensioners and poor folks who used to live in Venice would not recognize it today. 
Bradbury does an excellent job of describing Venice and it's various citizens. He describes the rolling fog a lot, the old Venice Pier and the oil wells. The oil wells are mentioned so often, that I looked online for some photos of those oil wells in Venice. I found a couple by photographer, Herman J. Schultheis, taken in 1937. Below are photos of views down a Ballona Creek channel with oil wells lining the banks of the Venice Oil Field, located south of Venice, in what is now Marina del Rey!
Venice Oil Field. Photo b Herman J. Schultheis, 1937. LAPL Collection
1937. Herman J. Schultheis
Of course I remember oil wells further east, between La Cienega and La Brea, south of Ballona Creek, north of Stocker Street; many of them are still there; but I do not remember the Venice Oil Fields. I am amazed that the County of Los Angeles dredged out a pleasure craft marina from this oily muck! 
Click on image to enlarge. The former Venice Oil Fields is now Marina del Rey, one of the largest pleasure craft marinas in the country.

I definitely recommend "Death is a Lonely Business." Bradbury may not have been the BEST mystery writer, but his descriptions of our Los Angeles, from the beach to downtown during this era, are worth your time.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018


I have many obsessions. They feed off of each other and are usually related. I'm obsessed with purses, yarn, hearts, Hollywood Regency architectural style, yarn, crochet, knitting and arranging everything into a grid, including crocheted granny squares, of course. I'm also obsessed with playing my ukulele and learning new songs. When I find a song I like I play it OVER and OVER again, to my husband, Larry's exasperation. He always says that every girl he's known has played either the same song or record album over and over again if she likes it. Yup! That's me..."every girl."
If you follow my Instagram feed (@ellblo) or my life on Facebook, you know that my latest song obsession is "Smokey the Bear." I hadn't heard this song since I was a tiny girl. It was very popular among the cub scouts in my neighborhood. At the Boulevard Music Holiday Show, owner, Gary Mandell sang the song, accompanied by his guitar. Even though we were all singing lovely holiday tunes, the smell of smoke hung heavily in the air due to the recent fires in many areas surrounding Los Angeles. So many lives and property were lost to these horrendous fires. Gary felt that he should pay attention to Smokey's warning, so he sang this song from his boy scout days. It resonated with me. I had to learn this song on the ukulele!

Gary Mandell, performing "Smokey the Bear," December 2017, Culver City

I searched the internet and found YouTube versions by Eddy Arnold, Gene Autry and the children's version by Johnny Jones and His Peter Pan Rangers. I found the sheet music, above, song written in 1952 by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins. I even found the guitar tabs with lyrics. Perfect! I started playing the song on my uke. I love this song. I cannot stop playing this song. I love the perky tune, the lyrics and the long-lasting message to live by that we all can help prevent wild fires.
On further research, I found the actual story of Smokey Bear, a bear cub in New Mexico who survived a raging wildfire. Yes, his name was Smokey Bear. "The" was added by the song writers to maintain the rhythm of the song. My friends, Jeff and Audrey have visited Smokey's grave at Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan, New Mexico.  I want to go there too!

Smokey Bear is my hero. I plan on teaching this song to my ukester friends soon. Hopefully, we'll learn it well enough to make our own YouTube video!

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Sun Blocker Pussy Hat

I've knit many pussy hats in the last year. January 2017, during the Women's March in Los Angeles, I was proud to report that many of my friends were wearing pussy hats that I knit. I was glad to be of help and represented in this way. 
Alyson, Darcy, Mary Jo, Natalie, Brit and Ellen

Jacquie in Las Vegas

Eve in San Francisco

Nicole in Los Angeles

Tracy in Northern California

Last year it was chilly and all of my friends, above, wore their pussy hats in the traditional, wintry style. This year, during the 2018 Women's March in downtown Los Angeles, the sun was out and shining brightly. 
My cousin Laurie and my friend Lisa both put there knitted pussy hats on top of big sun hats. Brilliant!
Laurie's and Lisa's converted Pussy Hats, 2018
Now, I've been thinking about creating a pussy hat with a brim or a visor! 
I could modify my Newsboy Hat (right) into a Pussy News Hat (left)
I could modify my Derby (right) into a Pussy Derby (left)

Back to the drawing board before the next march!

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Winter Knit-spiration

My favorite wooly sheep photo by Gale Zucker, 2009

This is Los Angeles. It's hot one day, cold the next. Of course, we're not having freezing temperatures like our friends in the east, but, for me, 60 degrees is really cold! I'm a native Angelina. My blood is thin! We need toasty, layered knits to keep us warm.
Here are a few patterns in my Ravelry queue that are perfect for this cold snap that we've been experiencing. Links to each pattern are in the captions.
Ribbie Taiyo Scarf

Leaving Cowl

Fireside Gingham Afghan

Moose Fair Isle Hat

Pom Pom Happiness Shawl

All of these patterns are guaranteed to ward off a chill! What are you crocheting and/or knitting right now?

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Hollywood Classic

Established 1919

In celebration of Larry's birthday this year, we went to an early movie ("The Shape of Water") at the ArcLight, then had dinner at The Musso and Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard. We loved the movie, which gave us a lot to talk about over our divine dinner.
We always like going to this classic Hollywood restaurant. The service is great, everyone is excited to be eating at this landmark and the food is really good!
Center Aisle Booth

We were seated in the perfect spot for people watching...a booth in the center aisle, opposite the parking lot entrance. People walked right by our table on their way into the place, ditto, on the way out! We even saw my old radio boss, Larry Mantle with his lovely wife, Kristin and their son, Desmond!
Kristin, Desmond and KPCC's Larry Mantle
Of course, we started with cocktails. Larry had the famous martini and I had a Pimm's Cup. Delicious. We split a Caesar salad and wolfed down all of that gorgeous sourdough bread.

Larry ordered the Grenadine of Beef and I had the Bouillabaisse Marseillaise which was chock full of  shrimp, lobster, mussels, clams and cod. There was even a tiny bit of yummy soup at the bottom of the bowl.
Grenadine of Beef
Chocolate mousse cake topped with vanilla bean ice cream and the obligatory birthday candle was shared for dessert.

Musso's is such a happy, welcoming place. Everyone is friendly, especially the maĆ®tre d'. He didn't stop smiling the entire time we were there!

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and want to return for the famous flannel cakes for breakfast one of these days!

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Blinky, the Friendly Hen

I've known the story of Blinky the Friendly Hen for decades. In 1978 artist, Jeffrey Vallance bought a frozen fryer chicken at the Ralph's Supermarket in Canoga Park. He later buried the chicken at the Los Angeles Pet Cemetery after a brief memorial service. He also installed a grave marker for the frozen bird, naming it Blinky. Vallance wrote that he thought of Blinky's grave as being like the grave of the Unknown Chicken, representing all the millions of chickens who are slaughtered and sold as food.
According to KCET, "Ten years later, Vallance would have the body exhumed so an autopsy could be performed by UCLA's head of pathology.  The tenth anniversary exhibit on the life of Blinky, at the Rosamund Felsen Gallery in Los Angeles, featured a 'shroud of Blinky,' and a recreation of the cemetery's viewing room, with a rubber chicken lying in state. Blinky was later reburied at the cemetery."
Vallance wrote a book about this conceptual art piece 10 years ago on the 30th anniversary of Blinky's memorial.
The Memorial Park is lovely

On our day off, Monday, we decided to drive out to Calabasas to visit Blinky's grave. It was a lovely day. I'd never been to a pet cemetery before. It was very interesting. This cemetery was founded in 1928 by veterinarian Dr. Eugene C. Jones. There are over 40,000 animals interred with in it, ranging from cats, dogs, horses, parrots, a lion and of course, Blinky the Friendly Hen. I really liked looking at all the names of the various dogs and cats near Blinky's grave.

The Mausoleum was built in 1929, adorned with stained glass windows
I have never owned animals, but many of my friends do and I know how much a beloved animal can mean to a person and their family. This park is the embodiment of animal love. It's definitely worth a visit.

L.A. Pet Cemetery, 1939, WPA Photo by Burton O. Burt, L.A. Public Library Archives

Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery