Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year's Eve

We played through this delightful Frank Loesser song in Ukulele Workshop the other day. Our fab teacher, Cali Rose, showed us some alternative jazzy chords. The arrangement is simple. My performance is a bit rough, but I love this song and this is the ONLY day I can perform it!
What are WE doing New Year's Eve? Our usual. We're going to an early movie, "Stan and Ollie" this year. Then, we're having dinner at the Westside Tavern. We expect to be home by the time the East Coast celebrates the New Year. We'll be listening for fireworks and gunshots at midnight.

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Malibou Lake

View from Linda's and Craig's deck

Today we took a drive out to see my cousin's home at Malibou Lake. Linda and Craig live in a really beautiful home overlooking the lake and the woods.  During the recent Woolsey Fires, they had to evacuate their home. They were one of the lucky families. There are 33 houses in their area. Their home is one of four still standing. The fires came within inches of their garage and out-buildings. They lost a lot of vegetation, but their house survived, although there was smoke damage. Craig sent me a few photos of his neighbor's home...totally destroyed!
The Neighbor's home. Photo by Craig Talmy
We picked up a few sub-sandwiches at Bay Cities Italian Deli and headed up the Pacific Coast Highway. Once we turned off onto Mulholland, we could see some of the burn damage. Thankfully, there were also plenty of green zones.

We passed the crews from AT & T restoring service to the area, as well as electrical workers.

We climbed up the hill to the house and were greeted by Linda and Craig. After a tour of their Craftsman-style home, we ate lunch and had a fine time discussing our families, the recent fires, FEMA and more. I'm so glad that their home was alright during the fires. They have done an amazing job over the last 20 years of remodeling and improving their home. It really is beautiful and in a serene setting (until the next fire).

Linda baked "Camp Fire/Smores" cupcakes for dessert in honor of Larry's parents' lost home in Paradise
Thank you, Cousins, for a lovely afternoon! We hope to get together again soon.
Craig and Linda, Owl Lodge, Malibou Lake

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Between the Holidays

Larry's illuminated Santas

I was so busy pre-Christmas, that I haven't blogged in days! We had a lovely brunch gathering on December 25th. It is my family's tradition to get together on that day, even though we really don't celebrate the holiday. We always enjoy each other's company, the lox and bagels, etc. Yes, there may be gifts too.
This year, my Mom/Roz, Larry, my bestie Rhoda and my two cousins, Janet and Laurie came over for brunch. It was nice having more family this year, since we've been celebrating this day together for most of our lives. None of us received any Barbie doll accessories or clothes, but we did have a nice time.

Roz, Laurie, Ellen, Rhoda, Janet
Rhoda, Janet, Larry, Laurie, Roz
Here we are in 1959 on Christmas Day celebrating together! For some reason, I don't have a photo with the 3 sisters, Mae, Roz and Celia from this gathering, but they were probably in the kitchen, dishing out the lox and bagels! Also, Laurie is missing from the pictures because she was just a baby and probably in her cradle at the time!
Top Row: Carolyn, Grandpa Sam, Janet, Grandma Freda
Bottom Row: Ellen, Marilyn and Ken
Grandpa Sam, Marvin, George, Bob and Ken in front
Larry and I are on vacation this week. So far, we've just been lazing around, playing our ukuleles, reading and watching TV.  We're planning a few field trips in the next few days! Hope you had a grand holiday celebration.

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Winter Solstice

Siblings, Fanny, Abe and ETHEL Pellicoff, 1894. Philadelphia, PA

Today is the Winter Solstice. It also happens to my grandmother's birthday. Ethel Anna Pellicoff Bloom. She would have been 129 years old today! Grandma Ethel died 56 years ago at the age of 73...young for today. I can't believe it's been such a long time. She made a great impression on me. People say I resemble her. She was very artistic. She sewed and crocheted, played the piano, was a champion bridge player and was a great cook.
Ethel Anna Pellicoff, High School Graduation, 1907,  New Jersey

A few years ago, my cousin Carol told me a story about Grandma I'd never heard before. The Blooms lived in West L.A. from the mid-1930s until a few years after WW 2. Ethel was a realtor. She had many friends in the business, including shop owners on Sawtelle Avenue, the Japanese section of West LA. When many of her Japanese friends were shipped off to internment camps during the War, Ethel held their properties for them. She collected rents, made sure all repairs were done and generally watched over everything for the owners until they returned to Los Angeles. Of course, her friends authorized Ethel to make a small salary for her efforts. I'm very proud of my Grandma.  I was just a girl when she passed. I so wish she had been around when I was older so I could have gained more of her wisdom. 
Happy birthday, Grandma!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Sad and Happy

This year our holiday card is sad and happy. We have smiles, but they are melancholy ones. Larry's parents' home in Paradise, California was destroyed in the recent Camp Fires. Larry's brother, John has lived in the house since  my in-laws, Hoyt and Maryanna passed away years ago. John managed to escape the raging fires, along with his cat and a few belongings and flee down the hill to Chico. He stayed in a rescue facility for about a week and then relocated with friends near Sacramento. He is lucky to be alive. John is fairly comfortable for now. There are no immediate plans to rebuild the family house. It will be a long time before ANYONE can re-build in the town of Paradise. The infrastructure in town needs to be re-built and improved. Only time will tell.
The fireplace, brick walls and a few metal items remain of the Paradise home. Photo by Larry Underhill
Google Maps capture of the Underhill home in Paradise

Our holiday card is a picture of the sheet music for the song along with the original illustration, "I Love You, California," written in 1913 by Francis Beatty Silverwood and Abraham Franklin Frankenstein. In 1913, the song was introduced by opera star Mary Garden, associated with the Chicago Grand Opera at the time.  In 1951, the California State Legislature passed a resolution designating it as California's official State song. If you look at the card carefully, you will see where Larry added a map of the town of Paradise in Northern California with a tiny red star to show the location of the house. Click on this LINK to see the lyrics and MANY verses! Click here to HEAR the song. 
Even though we have devastating fires, floods and earthquakes in California, it's still our home and we will always love it.
Have a joyful holiday season and cherish your loved ones. Things can be replaced (usually).
Hugs from Ellen and Larry. December 2018.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Ukulele Fun

Ukulele Workshop at the Boulevard Music Holiday Show
L-R: Joe, Marissa, Jim, Debbie, Candace, Ellen, Ron, Deb, Carol, Deb-2, Cali

We had a really good time performing at the Boulevard Music Holiday Show this past Sunday. Our Ukulele Workshop played four songs at the top of the show. There were 11 of us on that tiny stage! Thankfully, Cali's microphone and amplifier were at full force, so if we forgot some chords or lyrics, no one could tell. We kept shifting around on stage. No one wanted to be front and center. Well, alright, I'll stand in the middle! I'm a ham. Most of the photos I've seen from the evening have me with my mouth wide open in song or smiling at the audience. I know I forgot a few chords and some lyrics, but I also know from experience that "you go a mile with a smile!"
It's rather hectic backstage at Boulevard. The staff has to clear out the entire shop full of guitars and other instruments, including the stage. Then, they have to set up all the chairs for the audience. The "backstage" consists of music stands, instrument boxes and a kitchen. It's kind of a mess. We were tuning up, chattering away and basically having a great time. This transferred to our performance onstage. 

As I was roaming around the audience after our performance, a few of the other "professional" performers gave our group compliments. The joy of music transmits!

If you'd like to join our group in January (or anytime. We are an ongoing group), please do so! We can all have a great time making music together!
Click on Flyer to embiggen!

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

It's a Miracle!

Santa on the Miracle Mile, early 1950s. Check out the May Co. building! It's being refurbished and re-conditioned right now for the upcoming opening of the Motion Picture Academy Museum!

Everywhere I look I see Santa Claus! He should be in his workshop, supervising the elves. Santa has a lot of work to do between now and Christmas.
I was perusing some vintage photos of Santa Claus online and found some very interesting ones of Santa Claus on the Miracle Mile.
Wilshire Blvd., and Hauser Ave., Miracle Mile, Early 1950s

At the OTHER end of Wilshire Boulevard, Santa and his reindeer have been installed at Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. This was a major highlight of the holiday season when I was a child.
Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. Photo by Herman Schultheiss, 1937

Santa and his reindeer, Beverly Hills, 2018
I'm half-ready for the holiday. I have most of my gifts, just have to wrap them. We'll be having a small family brunch on the 25th and I haven't even started getting our house ready!! Our holidays cards are imminent! There are so many extra events to attend during the month of December. I should have taken a few days off! 

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Countdown to the Big Show!

Next Sunday, December 16th, my Ukulele Workshop will be participating in the Boulevard Music Holiday Show. Showtime is 7pm. It's FREE and there will be cookies! This is a fun show. the music staff, teachers and other friends sing a few songs geared toward audience participation and the holidays. Our group is first and we will be performing 4 songs!
We've been practicing like crazy. Our leader, Cali Rose, makes our classes fun and informative. Many of us show up for Workshop every single session. If you'd like to try out one class, you can arrange to attend and just pay for this single class. If you're confident that you're a beginning player and want to improve, this is the group for you!
I don't know where they stash all of that equipment, but the Boulevard Music staff clears out the first floor and sets up chairs for the audience. The "stage" is also cleared for the performers.
We had a lively practice session on Saturday. Here are a few candid shots that I managed to sneak:
Santa Jim and Deb work on some arrangements
Joe and Debbie
Candace, Carol and Ron
Marissa and Fred with their teardrop ukes (photo by Cali)
So, think about joining us next Sunday for the concert. I guarantee that you'll have a great time! Happy Ukulele Holidays!
Back Row, standing, L-R - Joe, Fred, Debbie, Marissa, Jim, Deb, Ellen, Debbie, Carol, Ron.
Front Row, seated - Cali, Tom, Candace (photo by Aaron)

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Friday, December 07, 2018

Going Somewhere for the Holidays?

1958. L.A. Xmas decoration. I love that Santa travels in a flying saucer!

Los Angeles is getting so crowded. We all know that this is the worst city for traffic! I know, because I sit in the L.A. traffic for hours each week! Argh! How about getting away for the holidays? I was reminded of this movie by my friend, Brooke. I might have seen "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" a few times.

I'm going to look into this trip. Time for peace and quiet during the holiday season. PEACE, above all is desired.

Happy Hectic Holidays, my friends.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2018


Six-Pointed Stars for Chanukah

'Tis the Season! Time to crochet holiday ornaments for decorating around the house and to gift to friends. I do have my favorites to make. Chanukah is early this year. I've made my Garland of Stars, but adding a sixth point for a Star of David many times!
Garland of Stars, 5-Pointed Stars
Another favorite is the Grandma Tree. I make one of these for the co-workers in my quadrant. We hang them in our cubicles for a festive look. The original pattern calls for making the tree in all one color. I like to add a RED planter potThese trees can also be joined into a garland. So festive!
Grandma Trees in formation

I found these Christmas Baubles online. They are really fun to crochet and stuff!
Christmas Baubles
One year I added a bauble to my WeHo SnB Holiday Hat. It was a hit!

If you really want to impress your friends and make them feel special, make them a personalized garland. This involves going through your friends' Facebook photo page and finding meaningful photos of them or things around their house. I made one for Carol and Thane years ago and they're still hanging it on their mantle! The instructions are on my blog, link below.
Holiday Photo Garland
I can't get enough of my puffy granny flower. I use this pattern as the basis for hats, potholders and ornaments. The basic puffy flower pattern is HERE. It's easy to just add a few plain double crochet rows for a border. 

Puffy Flower Scrubbies or ORNAMENTS? You decide.
One year I followed a pattern on the Attic24 blog for a Birdie Decoration. I crocheted it in Christmas colors and it turned out very cute!
Holiday Birdie Ornament
Another really cute Attic24 pattern is for Wooly Sheep Wearing Sweaters. My little sheep didn't turn out as cute as on the blog, but it will do.
Wooly Holiday Sheep
This year I'm rather obsessed with these festive, tasseled pentagons from Alexandra MacKenzie. I saw them on her Instagram feed, re-posted by #grannysquaretherapy.  I don't have an actual pattern for this cute little piece, but we can definitely figure it out!
Festive Granny Pentagon Ornament
Oh! The decorating possibilities are endless with yarn!

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