Friday, December 31, 2010

A look back

Click to "embiggen"

2010 was a pretty good year. Some good things happened, both in my small life and in the big world. Some bad things happened, too, but we survived.

Here's wishing you all a great New Year full of promise and wonderful possibilities.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sunset Boulevard sky

We were walking on Sunset Boulevard in the heart of Hollywood as the evening sun was getting low in the western sky, shining warm and golden on the buildings.

The first thing I saw was the reflection bounced back onto the blank eastern wall of this nondescript glass-fronted office building.

Then I saw the whole sky given back to me on its facade.

A trick of the light, a magic moment.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thematic Photographic - Favorite Photos of the Year

Carmi, at Written, Inc., posts a weekly photographic challenge, based on a theme. But this time, it's different. To wrap up the year, Carmi urges us to post our FAVORITE PHOTOS OF THE YEAR. The challenge goes on through January 6, 2011. Go visit Carmi's site and see who else shares favorite photos.

The ever-changing, elusive colors of the sky are a constant fascination for me as a photographer, and even though I never seem to catch the exact views I see, sometimes a shot turns out nicer than I would have hoped.

This is a wintery evening shop of the Santa Monica Pier, seen from the window of a building up on Ocean Avenue. I had to peek under the palm frond to see the marvelous dome of the carousel, and the illuminated ferris wheel.

It's very Southern California in feeling, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jack's on TV!



10 Dogs from Jon Lee on Vimeo.

http://vimeo.com/18218739

At 00:25 see Jack bounding up the steps of our front yard!

Co-starring with his friends, Lola, Cooper, Maggie, Ziggy, Basel, Chester, Bochi, and Tosh.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mushroom goggles

About this time last year, our friend and neighbor introduced us to the native edible fungi of our very own Southern California mountains. He is an expert, and he foraged prized chanterelle mushrooms from the damp winter woodland - even from the oak-leaf and pine-needle soil of the narrow strip beside our shared driveway.

When I learned that such wonders were right here in my neighborhood, suddenly I began to seek out mushrooms in the woods while taking my daily walk with Jack. It was amazing how - when you start to look for something - you suddenly see it where previously you couldn't detect it at all. When I talked with our neighbor, we laughed and called it "mushroom goggles."

This has happened to me before with an assortment of arcane details. I remember one summer in college when I couldn't help but see the types of hub-caps all the cars had. Or the year my company installed new computerized parking equipment - suddenly I became aware of what system that was employed in each parking lot I used.

So on yesterday's wintery walk in Red Rock Canyon, after the rains of December, I was mindful of the season. I put on my "mushroom goggles." Here's what I found.


These red-capped mushrooms grew amid pine needles and oak leaves. They are a surprisingly attractive red color - specimens in fine shape appear to be rounded red granite stones at first sight. Older ones deepen in color as they rot.

Here's another photo of the same cluster.

The underside of the caps don't have gills, they are sort of spongy looking. They may be Boletus dryophilus - considered edible but not particularly choice.


This one may be the "False Chanterelle" - Hygrophorpsis aurantiaca, or even worse, Omphalotus olivascens, the "Jack o'lantern mushroom." As my neighbor said when I sent him the picture - "Eat and get VERY sick (but not die)" Hmm....

What of these graceful little lampshades, growing on a rotting fallen oak tree?

Or these, another pretty gilled 'shroom with a red velvet lampshade? You never know.

Along the trail, a fallen oak tree hosted multiple species of fungi. These pretty little coral-pink bubbles are the size of pearls.

On the same tree, these fungi grew. They may be Trametes versicolor, which has the delightful common name of "Turkey Tail."

One oak stump grew lots of fungi, including these bright orange mushrooms that were starting to liquify as they rotted. They stained my fingers bright orange where I touched them. Yuk!

Here are some small puffed mushrooms with textured caps. I'm not sure what they are.

I'm a person who likes to identify and classify plants, so I searched through field guides to figure out what these fungi are called. But, unlike with plants, I don't fully understand the physical structures and details of fungi. The one thing that was very clear to me as I checked through field guides, though, is that many mushrooms resemble one another - and some very very deadly poison mushrooms look a lot like delicious edible ones.

Mushrooms don't leave much room for error. So - even though these are beautiful, intriguing, fascinating - I'm not going to harvest them without some expert advice.

But it's interesting to walk through the woods with your "mushroom goggles" on. Or your "bird goggles," or "flower goggles," or goggles that help you see fish in a pond, or crystals of quartz in a stone.

Take some time to focus on a small detail in the world you live in. Tell me what you're seeing.

Thematic Photographic - Favorite Photos of the Year

Carmi, at Written, Inc., posts a weekly photographic challenge, based on a theme. But this time, it's different. To wrap up the year, Carmi urges us to post our FAVORITE PHOTOS OF THE YEAR. The challenge goes on through January 6, 2011. Go visit Carmi's site and see who else shares favorite photos.

One of my favorites from my summer working at the beach. The stark noon sun turns a bicycle rack into something special.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

We spent the day after Christmas hiking in Red Rock Canyon.

Then we went home for our Boxing Day dinner.


It involved pie.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day

....peacefull was the night
Wherin the Prince of light
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The Windes with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,

Whispering new joyes to the milde Ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While Birds of Calm sit brooding on the charme├Ęd wave.

- John Milton "Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity"

After a week of storms, the weather has cleared, the sky is washed clean by the storm and the ocean here off Castle Rock, Pacific Palisades, is blue.

Our Son is arriving from London at LAX later on Christmas Day. We're looking forward to being with him.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Winter blossom

Here's a hardy survivor - a geranium in the pots by our gate unfurls a rosy, clenched blossom, after the drenching rain.

It's Christmas Eve. Our son got a seat on a flight from London that arrives on Christmas Day. So far, it looks like he might be lucky.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thematic Photographic - Favorite Photos of the Year

Carmi, at Written, Inc., posts a weekly photographic challenge, based on a theme. But this time, it's different. To wrap up the year, Carmi urges us to post our FAVORITE PHOTOS OF THE YEAR. The challenge goes on through January 6, 2011. Go visit Carmi's site and see who else shares favorite photos.

When we traveled to Seattle this autumn - returning to a place we once lived - we discovered a new restaurant in an old and historic neighborhood.

The Corson Building, in Georgetown, is not your ordinary restaurant. It crafts each evening's meal according to the best ingredients available, and according to the chef's inspiration. Most of the ingredients come from Pacific Northwest local suppliers. Many of them come from the gardens on the restaurant's property.

So some of my favorite photos of the year are of a glimpse into the kitchen - typically an unseen space, for most diners - where the chefs concentrate on putting together the meal that I am about to enjoy.

I stood in the doorway and took this photo.

I took another photo from the pantry - which is rich with ingredients, and a library of cookbooks, and the hanging pots and pans used in the craft of making delicious meals.

Immediately beyond the windows of the kitchen lie the tracks of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail lines, and beyond that a city park's soccer field active with a local neighborhood league. In the photo that opens this post, the athletic field lights shine through past the ranked jars and glassware.

This is a different kind of restaurant. It's a different way of thinking about sharing meals. They welcomed guests into the kitchen and I'm glad I could record the experience and share it with you through my photographs.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We Got Rain

in Los Angeles the storm drains
weren't built to carry off that much
water


and the rain came down THICK and
MEAN and
STEADY


and you HEARD it banging against
the roofs and into the ground
waterfalls of it came down
from roofs


and there was HAIL
big ROCKS OF ICE
bombing
exploding smashing into things
and the rain
just wouldn't
STOP


and all the roofs leaked-
dishpans,
cooking pots
were placed all about;
they dripped loudly
and had to be emptied
again and
again.


the rain came up over the street curbings,
across the lawns,


climbed up the steps and
entered the houses.



- from Charles Bukowski, "We Ain't Got No Money, Honey, But We Got Rain."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wicked bad

We had cabin fever. We were rained in. It was a cold winter day with nothing to do. There was no sun to slip down past the yardarm - the sun hadn't been seen in days.

But it was cocktail time.


And we were feeling a little devilish! Here's a vintage cocktail from a great little book called - what else? - "Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails," by Ted Haigh, or Dr. Cocktail, as he calls himself.

Satan's Whiskers

Mix equal parts of:
  • Dry vermouth
  • Sweet vermouth
  • Gin
  • Orange juice
  • Grand Marnier or Curacao (or Cointreau)*
Add a dash of Orange bitters

Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice, strain into cocktail glasses.


*Made with Curacao or Cointreau, it's a Curly Satan's Whisker. The Curly version is a little edgier, and the bitters are more assertive. With Grand Mariner, it's a Straight Whisker, lending more smoothness and mellowness to the drink.

Cheers!


The wicked little figurine is a Mexican folk art piece by artist Carmela Martinez.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thematic Photographic - Favorite Photos of the Year

Carmi, at Written, Inc., posts a weekly photographic challenge, based on a theme. But this time, it's different. To wrap up the year, Carmi urges us to post our FAVORITE PHOTOS OF THE YEAR. The challenge goes on through January 6, 2011. Go visit Carmi's site and see who else shares favorite photos.

The trolley goes by, in Tampa's Ybor City, on a rainy night in March. The colors here just look like candy to me.

Click to "embiggen."

Snowbound

Heathrow airport, December 2010

'The Great Frost'

or The art of walking the streets of London

O roving muse, recall that wonderous year,
When winter reigned in bleak Britannia's air;
When hoary Thames, with frosted osiers crowned,
Was three long moons in icy fetters bound.
The waterman, forlorn along the shore,
Pensive reclines upon his useless oar,
Sees harnessed steeds desert the stony town,
And wander roads unstable, not their own;
Wheels o'er the hardened waters smoothly glide,
And rase with whitened tracks the slippery tide.
Here the fat cook piles high the blazing fire,
And scarce the spit can turn the steer entire.
Booths sudden hide the Thames, long streets appear,
And numerous games proclaim the crowded fair.

- John Gay (1685 - 1732)

It's an uncertain Christmas at our house. Our Son, who has been studying in London since September, was expecting to fly home for a holiday visit today. Heathrow airport has been closed since Friday. When we last spoke with him, he was at the airport, preparing to take the train back to his apartment and await news of a rescheduled flight.

Since more snow is expected in the next few days, I'm wondering if he'll get out at all.

In better news, my Sister-in-Law Kurly, who has been teaching school in Kiev, successfully made it home to Tampa, after spending two snowbound nights in the Brussels airport.

Here in Southern California, we're hearing of roads closed by rock slides and traffic backups on the freeways. More rain is expected Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wherever you are, whoever you're with, stay safe, warm, and have a great holiday.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thematic Photographic - Favorite Photos of the Year

Carmi, at Written, Inc., posts a weekly photographic challenge, based on a theme. But this time, it's different. To wrap up the year, Carmi urges us to post our FAVORITE PHOTOS OF THE YEAR. The challenge goes on through January 6, 2011. Go visit Carmi's site and see who else shares favorite photos.

This fellow came out during a lull in a chill February rainstorm. Since today we're experiencing a similar slam from the elements, it's a good photo to share.

Pineapple Express

The rain started Friday morning. It came down without stopping all day, throughout the night, and the drizzle continued into Saturday morning.

They're saying it's a "ten year record", the "largest storm in ten years."

Pineapple Express is what they call it when a warm, wet wind comes ashore in California from the Southwest - that is, from Hawaii.

At 11:00 am on Saturday, I put a straight-sided container out on the deck to start measuring the rainfall.


Here's what it looked like Sunday morning at 10:00. Can that be right?

At 12:30 on Saturday, [The Man I Love] and I were in Westwood, where he had an appointment and I was going to join him for lunch. The rain was pouring down. The gutters were flowing with water. I ran some errands, and then we changed our lunch plans to go somewhere closer to home.

We found a seaside dining room, overlooking the beach. Grey storm clouds loom overhead.


People stroll by with umbrellas, or walking dogs.

Here's an adventurous guy taking advantage of the high surf.


We drove home up the coast highway.


And up the mountain road to home. Earlier this week, we had planned to get our Christmas tree Saturday from our local nursery. Even though we weren't optimistic, we decided to swing by their place.


Closed up, just as we thought. No tree Saturday.

The rain is still coming down. I called the nursery this morning - a very chilled-sounding young man told me they were open for another couple hours, but would be closing by noon.

No Christmas tree today either!

Stay warm and dry everyone!