Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Color Blocks

Painting by Piet Mondrian

I've been crocheting granny squares for decades. There is nothing so pleasing to me as a finished square that lines up perfectly in a pretty yarn. The beauty of the block and the power of the grid are endlessly gratifying to me. The grid painting in modern art is inspirational. Check the dictionary, and definitions skew utilitarian.  Merriam-Webster offers that "grid" is simply  "a network of uniformly spaced horizontal and perpendicular lines (as for locating points on a map). The grid is a pre-determined, ordering structure which artists can choose to either follow or disrupt." In crochet, I follow the grid, only disrupting as to size of square.
"Babette" Granny Square Afghan. My interpretation of DISTRUPTING THE GRID

I've crocheted so many granny/grid pieces...scarves, cowls and blankets. Behold, below:

As a respite from some larger projects that I'm working on, I picked up some skeins of  Plymouth Yarn, "Gina" that I bought during last spring's LA Yarn Crawl and started a narrow granny square scarf.

My Mini-Granny Square Scarf
My greatest quote ever appeared in the book, "CraftActivism" by Gale Zucker and Joan Tapper. I said, and still adhere to:  "Granny Squares are the Building Blocks to Fashion."

One day, I might explore circles.


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Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day

Lately, the Memorial Day holiday has been known as the kick-off to the summer. We understand it to be just another day off from work, time for a short vacation, sales at the mall or the family barbecue get-together. 
From Wikipedia, here's the description of the Memorial Day Holiday: Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 31 in 2010). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military serviceFirst enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War), it was expanded after World War I.
During the early 1980's I lived on Sepulveda Blvd. near Montana Ave., just north of the Los Angeles National Veteran's Cemetery in Westwood. One year on Memorial Day, I walked with a few neighbors down to the Cemetery to see if one of the military bands was performing. On this particular soldiers' holiday, Boy Scouts had placed small flags on every single grave in the cemetery. There are 116 acres of marble headstones. Westwood is the largest veteran's cemetery outside Arlington National Cemetary in Virginia. Needless to say, all of those thousands of little flags waving in the wind was a sobering, but magnificent sight. There wasn't a band playing that day, just many soldiers and families of military men and women paying their respects.
Major George E. Bloom, 1942

In addition to today being Memorial Day, it's the 15th anniversary of my Father's death. George E. Bloom was born in 1919 in Philadelphia, PA and passed away on May 25, 2004 in Los Angeles, CA. This past March 30th would also have been Dad's 100th birthday. When he was six months old, the Bloom family moved to Los Angeles.  Dad considered himself a life-long Angeleno.  Thank you for imparting your historical knowledge of our wonderful City to me, Dad.
Pop, 1984, Pacific Ocean, off Marina del Rey

Later, this afternoon we're attending a pot-luck Memorial Day lunch with my ukulele group, The C.C. Strummers. It should be a fine time!
Happy Memorial Day to everyone.  Enjoy your day and remember those who have served so that we can have this day of remembrance.

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Friday, May 24, 2019

The Land of Giants

Mary Joe and The Coronade Heights "Paul Bunyan," Tucson, Arizona

Yes, Larry and I are obsessed with roadside signage of a certain era, especially "Muffler Men." We have plenty of these hunky fiber glass guys right here in Southern California (Chicken Boy is our favorite, of course).
Decades ago, Larry drove by a most curious collection of buckets on a flat piece of land just outside of Tucson, Arizona. He drove by again about 15 years ago, but both times he could not stop and explore. Last week, we finally stopped and took photos of the mysterious buckets surrounding this piece of property on the highway.
The Buckets, Eloy, Arizona
The Buckets were moved from Magic Mountain in Valencia, California for a proposed theme park. It never happened.  Read about it here
We saw the Muffler Man above, Mr. Coronado Heights, right in Tucson. I do love his strong jaw!

After our visit to Tucson and seeing the sights, along with many museums and the Kon Tiki Restaurant (awesome), we continued to Las Cruces New Mexico. We were very busy with the Las Cruces Uke Fest and sightseeing in Las Cruces. Upon our departure, Larry took one of the blue highways out of town and we came upon another Muffler Man at an RV dealership in Hatch, New Mexico (home of the famous Hatch chiles).
RV Salesman, Cowboy. Hatch, New Mexico

He's holding a mini-Winnebago. A "mini-Winnie"

Colonel Sanders was sitting on a bench at the back of the lot in the shade of the garage. He was not giant.
Less than one mile down the road, we came upon Sparky's Burgers & BBQ.  Sparky's is a veritable smorgasbord of roadside signage and statues. Both sides of the road have some great advertising statues, including Uncle Sam, Yogi Bear, Bob from the Big Boy Restaurant, The A & W family sits atop Sparky's building. There's this huge pig, a dinosaur, Robin Hood and more. Sparky's was quite busy, so only Larry peeked inside. He said there was even more advertising memorabilia inside!
Sparky's Burgers in Hatch, NM

The A&W Family

This is Sparky, holding a frosty freeze ice cream cone and a burger. The perfect lunch!

Uncle Sam, holding a famous Hatch chile
WOW! It was a BONANZA of roadside beauty! We talked about this for miles and miles, until we reached Scottsdale, Arizona.  That's another story!

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Las Cruces Ukulele Festival

We had a great time at the Las Cruces UkeFest this past weekend! Mary Jo and I were so busy taking classes and learning new uke things, that we barely had time to take photos!
We attended the concert on Friday night at New Mexico State College...nice campus. All of the instructors in addition to the Las Cruces Uke Club performed.
Las Cruces Uke Club. Tie-Die was the theme this year.
Instructors, Abe Lagrimas on drums, Nicole Keim on ukulele, Aaron Keim on stand-up bass, Victoria
Vox on ukulele and vocals, Kevin Carroll on ukulele
Each instructor performed on their own and then again in the ensemble. It was an excellent concert.

Saturday morning, we drove over to the New Mexico Ranch and Farm Heritage Museum where all of our workshops were to be held. We had a short orientation and then got to work! I took classes from all the teachers except Kevin Carroll. "Chords up the Neck" with Aaron Keim, "Instant Jazz Ukulele" with Abe Lagrimas, "Intro to Tablature" with Nicole Keim, "Get in the Groove Strumming" with Victoria Vox and "American Folk Songs with Nicole and Aaron Keim. Lunch was served around noon and featured an open mic session.
At the Instagram Photo Booth with Mary Jo
I won a raffle prize of books and CDs by the group of instructors!

We didn't attend the Sunday morning sessions, "Gospel According to Uke" and "Hawaiian Ukulele," deciding to catch some local scenery instead.
It was a very organized and well-run festival. Everyone was super helpful and friendly. It was nice being at the Ranch and Farm Heritage Museum too. We were allowed to tour the grounds with our festival registration.
I would definitely attend this festival again!
Next up, our trip out of New Mexico, back to Arizona!

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019


We spent the entire day touring Tucson. This morning we visited the Titan Missile Museum. Wow! SO INTERESTING! Thanks, Jeff for suggesting this museum. It was so Cold War. We got to tour the underground silo and control room and more!

We zoomed back toward downtown Tucson to the Tucson Museum of Art. It's a lovely little museum, mostly housed in a group of historic buildings near The Presidio, with many modern buildings attached. We saw many examples of art from Mexico, South America and SouthWestern art from the American West.  There's a nice cafe' at the Museum where we had lunch.

MaryJo and Ellen

Vestibule of Cafe' in a historic home
There were many highlights in the Museum's collection, including a show of Josef Alber's pieces. I love graphics...they always give me ideas for afghans and quilts!

Josef Albers pieces

After the Museum, MaryJo wanted to visit the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun. Our friend, Alyson, owns a few of DeGrazia's paintings and ephemera and urged us to visit. The Gallery was entirely constructed by the artist, Ted DeGrazia. It's made from adobe, rocks, wood from the area. It's quite an impressive building and grounds. We enjoyed touring the Gallery and grounds. His artwork is colorful and whimsical.
DeGrazia Gallery of the Sun

Painting by DeGrazia

DeGrazia figures translated to a stained glass light fixture
After resting a bit, our friend, Scott, dropped by our hotel. We reminisced about our old rock 'n roll days in L.A., then the four of us drove to Kon Tiki Restaurant for dinner. WOW! This place was built in 1962. It's beautifully maintained and a wealth of tiki-rific decor! The drinks and food were pretty good too!.
photo, courtesy of the innernetz

It was great seeing Scott and discovering the Kon Tiki Restaurant!

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Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery