Friday, September 30, 2011

California light


This morning during my walk, this was the view from high up on the road above the house.

In 1909 the California Art Club was founded in Pasadena. Its founding members included painters Franz Bischoff and William Wendt, and Wendt's wife the sculptor Julia Bracken Wendt. Plein-air painting - going outdoors and painting directly from nature - was enthusiastically emphasized, perhaps due to the Southern California's glorious climate and the dramatic contrasts of its landscapes. Beaches, mountains, forests and desert were all a short motor-car or trolley ride away.

In 1913, E.C. Maxwell writing for the national magazine Arts Journal wrote: "the word has gone forth to the world that California, that land of golden light and purple shadows, is destined in the course of the next few years to give us a new school of landscape painting...Conditions seem right for a renaissance of art in California..."

These California artists - William Wendt, Edgar Payne, Franz Bischoff - frequently painted landscapes of the Santa Monica Mountains, including Topanga and Malibu.

A critic writing for the Los Angeles Times in 1911 wrote of Wendt's paintings:

"Wendt paints Topanga with the perfect understanding that comes from perfect love. In his pictures of this wonderful canyon the very spirit of the out-of-doors and also -- what is equally to the point -- the very soul of Southern California, is felt."

William Wendt, "Converging Fields"
If you look closely at this undated William Wendt painting it appears to be a view of the same rocky ridge of Saddle Peak that I see from my morning walk.

Here's another view from my camera. What do you think?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Weekly Jack - spinning

Each morning, Jack and I take our walk. When we come back to the house, lately, I've taken to making Jack sit at the top of the steps, and then I take off his collar. When I give him the OK, he dashes down the stairs to the front door, running like the wind!  I follow, a little more slowly.

video

He is so excited he turns in circles at the door while he waits for me. Here's a video of what he does.

When I let him in the house, he runs all around in circles through the living room and kitchen, and then up the stairs into the bedrooms. Then he dashes back down the steps and goes out on the deck.

He's a funny one.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Holy Sh#%!


The Deviled Eggs are IN! Tampa Bay's going into the post-season!

Bird brain

Click to "embiggen". Never mind the cobwebs
There is a bird in the house.

This happens from time to time. We're in the habit of leaving our deck door open so that Jack can come and go. Our living room has floor to ceiling windows, and when birds get into the house, they inevitably find the windows more attractive than the doors.

We've had birds ranging from jays to hummingbirds trapped against the glass in our house, and we've perfected a technique for getting birds out of the house - we throw a bathtowel or a blanket over them, whisk it our the door and furl out the cloth, setting them free outside.

But last night, a bird came in and is fluttering around up in the high clerestory windows of our kitchen. I think he's a bush tit.

It's more than ten feet high, and I'm not going to stand around on top of a ladder flapping a towel. We've opened the two clerestory windows that don't have screens, but he hasn't found them yet.

He spent the night perched on the fan blade or hunched along the window sills - perhaps the outside sky was too dark beyond the glass to attract him. This morning after it got light, I think the little Bird-brain found his way out while I was walking Jack.

Thematic Photographic - It's in the details.

Carmi at Written, Inc., posts a photographic challenge each week called Thematic Photographic - this week's theme is "In the details." The theme challenges us to isolate things a bit, to stop looking at the big picture and instead look at one or two of the details that contribute to it.


Talk about details. This is a vintage handbag, dating from the 1920s. The leather has been tooled in a pattern of stylized morning glories. Other details include decorative whip-stitching on the seams.


More details on this bag include tooled patterns on the hinged brass frame, and a decorative clasp.
Handbag dealer Nancy Fink has a collection of these 1920s era leather handbags, restored to exquisite shape. She's updated them with a shoulder-length chain.

Peek inside for more detail - this one is monogramed inside for the original owner. And more attention to detail - Nancy has slipped her card into the soft suede pocket.

Nancy does not have a website. She sells her collection of vintage and new handbags and accessories at charity events in Southern California. If you want to get in touch with her, or find out where she'll be next, email me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Larger than Life

Mata Hari
A work assignment recently led me to a person I was really reluctant to get involved with. A volunteer for a local organization, Dr. Frogs (she insists on using that title) is notoriously difficult to work with. She's demanding, critical, and at every step of the way she is compelled to tell you how important and talented she is, while at the same time bemoaning the fact that no one appreciates her.

I needed some information from her, though, so I ended up on the receiving end of a long stream of bizarre email. As usual with Dr. Frogs, it included grandiose claims, accusations of ill treatment, and pleas for recognition. At the end were a half a dozen hyperlinks, which all led to her own website. So I went there.

Wow.

Harrison Ford and Karen Allen in "Raiders of the Lost Ark"
You can get lost in Dr. Frogs' website for hours. It is a full blown glorification of her illustrious life and career, written in the third person. If you believe her account, she led a "life of high adventure, royal romance, and scientific discovery." She traveled to exotic mountain kingdoms in Asia, romanced a royal prince, wrote a book of her travels at the tender age of 21, and hitchhiked through the Congo.

Amelia Earhart, from Wikipedia
She piloted a DC-3 over the Himalayas, was involved in cold-war intrigue in Greece and Hong Kong. Imprisoned in an Eastern European police state, she barely escaped an assassination attempt. Noted Broadway producers clamored to set her life to music.

Greta Garbo in "Queen Christina"
She received multiple advanced academic degrees, appeared on stage at the age of three, was a pioneer of computer technology and biochemistry, and was commissioned by one of the richest men in the world to catalog his art collection. She spearheaded historic preservation in her home town; revitalized a small-town music organization with her management skills, and aided the FBI in the capture of one of the world's most wanted fugitives.

Modesty Blaise, comic character created by Peter O'Donnell
 One of the concepts of literature is the idea of the "unreliable narrator." This device filters a story through the point of view of a flawed character - someone who may be delusional or who is deliberately trying to deceive the reader, or lead readers to a false conclusion.

At every step of the way, Dr. Frogs tells us how she was before her time; her talents were unappreciated; she refused to be co-opted and corrupted; she worked pro-bono for what she believed in. International intrigue swirled about her - Zelig-like, she was on the scene at crucial moments in history, broke important news stories, and outwitted sinister forces of dictatorial governments who tried to silence her. Everything about her is extraordinary, as described. So - not only does she tout an article written for a journal; she also makes a point of telling us that it is the LONGEST article ever published by that journal.

Marie Curie and that guy she married.
An amazing woman, wouldn't you say? Do you believe it? I somehow can't - yet on her website are digitized newspaper clippings that seem to corroborate some of her tales.

Or is it all just hyperbole? A flirtation with a handsome gentleman becomes, in her telling, a legendary romance. An invitation from a pilot to visit the cockpit of the plane becomes, in her telling, her taking the controls. A tourist trip becomes an assignment as a foreign correspondent. A phoned-in tip to a crime hot-line becomes "assisting the FBI." Crack-pot letters to the editor become "breaking news stories." Unsolicited feedback to manufacturers become collaborations on developing products.

But maybe she's on to something. How would your ordinary life read if it were told as a swashbuckling tale of high adventure?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Evening out

Photo from online event news site
This weekend, we had an evening out. A gala event, attended by celebrities, artists, business leaders, philanthropists - and us, just lucky, I guess.

I wore a Nanette Lepore cocktail dress, with a sarong-style skirt and a low-cut draped decolletage. A little daring for me. I'd bought it a couple years ago, and had it altered to properly fit me - so this was actually the first time I ever wore it. I spent the entire night reminding myself to stand up straight and not slump my shoulders. I had a pair of cheap glass dangly earrings that were the same blue color as the pattern in my dress.

The event was a great opportunity for people watching - and observing interesting fashions. Although black was the most popular hue, there was one woman in a striking dress that was a column of hot pink silk jersey. Another wore a graphic yellow and black print on a white ground. There were men dressed in stove-pipe legged trousers and four-button jackets like PeeWee Herman. Lots of people wore unusual-looking glasses. Mini-dresses made of spandex. There were leather and boot-clad hotties. And dowagers in glittering sequins. This being an arts event, there were also a few people studiously dressing down, in t-shirts and flipflops.

And there were shoes. Oh, the shoes! There were platform pumps. Gladiator sandals - still in fashion, it seems. Oddly shaped hoof-like ankle bootlets. Stilettos.

We knew very few of the people there, but those we knew were worth knowing. We escorted a newcomer to the scene to introduce her around. We came upon a noted artist talking with a hot young actor. The artist interrupted her conversation with him to greet our guest, with an affectionate hug  - and then graciously introduced us to the actor. Oh my! The hand that is typing this post shook This Guy's hand.

At our dining table, I sat next to a small, neat man perhaps five years my senior, wearing a crisp bow tie. He was very charming, a great conversationalist who made me feel at ease. He happens to be a serious L.A. dude - a retired lawyer, who's on a bunch of the city's boards and commissions, and also on the boards of several arts and health care organizations.

Although just beyond our table, the hot young actor sat with the honored artist, and beyond them, three bad-boy Hollywood young talents laughed and drew the attention of photographers, and to our left an elder statesman of Hollywood fame held forth - I think I enjoyed my conversation with my dapper and personable dinner companion better than if I'd been at those tables.

My dress, photographed at home. Is this really the only full-length mirror in our house? Yes, it is.
No other photos from me - I didn't even bring a cell phone. There were official photographers there, and one posed photo of the two of us was taken.

I'm making a funny face.
The food was delicious. A noted LA chef catered the event. The best dish, I think, was the appetizer - late-harvest peaches served with burrata and pistachios in a balsamic dressing. The evening included a short performance by a popular new singer.

At one point in the evening, I really longed for my camera.  The courtyard was open to the sky, and garlands of small bright orange lanterns hung above the dining tables.  We were warmed by the propane-fueled heaters. The red table cloths, the bright floral centerpieces, and the amber light from the lanterns all lent a visual warmth to accompany it. Yet at one moment, I looked up past the glass towers enclosing us and the sky was cold and greenish beyond the lanterns, and fine droplets of mist sifted into the beams of light. It was such a melancholy yet exquisite contrast of color, I wished with all my heart I could have captured it.

Then I turned back to the table and ate my bittersweet chocolate torta dessert with crispy honeycomb. I ate it all up.

You can't pass up the opportunities that present themselves to you.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Yes I can

Bread-and-butter pickles, ketchup, plum jam and sweet pickled pepper relish
My mother was raised on a farm in Central Texas, and I'm pretty sure her family home-canned vegetables and preserves. But in our home, in suburbs of the Midwest, Ohio, and New Jersey, we bought our canned and bottled goods at the supermarket. I never even thought about home-canning.

My first knowledge of home canning came - oddly enough - from reading Shirley Jackson's unsettling and eerie novel "We Have Always Lived in the Castle."  Merricat, the narrator, describes the pretty colors of the jars of jams, jellies, preserves and pickles in the cellar:
There were jars of jam made by great-grandmothers, with labels in thin pale writing, almost unreadable by now, and pickles made by great-aunts and vegetables put up by our grandmothers, and even our mother had left behind her six jars of apple jelly. Constance had worked all her life at adding to the food in the cellar, and her rows and rows of jars were easily the handsomest and shone among the others....All the Blackwood women had taken the food that came from the ground and preserved it, and the deeply colored rows of jellies and pickles and bottled vegetables and fruit, maroon and amber and dark rich green, stood side by side in our cellar and would stand there forever....

In 1979 I moved from Manhattan to Seattle. I felt like I was striking out into the wild - although then, as now, Seattle was quite a cosmopolitan city. Western Washington is an incredibly rich and fertile place, where fruit, flowers and vegetables grew with abandon. The man I moved in with was an amateur winemaker and home-brewer, and his ex-wife had canned. With those expectations, I fell into "pioneer woman" mode. We drove out into the mountains and picked wild blackberries, for wine and for jam. We drove to the Skagit Valley to U-Pick farms. We bought flats of cucumbers at the market for pickles. It was my first introduction to home-made ketchup - one of the main reasons I still can.


Later, married to [The Man I Love], and living in Seattle's Central District, I enlisted a friend to help me make wine from the Italian prune-plums that grew in our yard, and I also made preserves.

Moving to Topanga, I met my friend Jill. She's a formidable canner. Her neighbor, a movie producer, had a lot of fruit trees on his land, and he granted her permission to forage at will. We sent our children out in little red wagons to gather the fruit, and then, in her big beautiful kitchen, we canned jars and jars of plums and apricots. My own plum tree yielded a few jars each summer - as long as I beat the birds to the fruit. I sometimes see fruits on the prickly-pear cacti in our neighborhood, and wonder whether it would be worth trying to make jam from them.

Jam cooking down
When I was in high school - I don't remember exactly when - I had an apocalyptic dream where my friends and I were the only people left on a devastated Earth, and we settled in a farmhouse that I recognized from my bike-riding in the valleys of the Little Miami River in the suburbs north of Cincinnati where I lived. The dream was fleeting, and soon faded. But I was fascinated with the idea of having to go back to the land to feed ourselves, and preserve food for the coming year.

So although I live in one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities, when the year turns to autumn, I get the urge to put food by.

I still have my big enameled steel canning kettle, with the hinged rack. But these days I work with smaller quantities, and use my pasta-cooker to process the 3 or 4 jars a small quantity of produce yields. The colander insert works fine if you're canning half-pint jars - which hold the right quantity for a small household like ours.

I don't can tomatoes, because I find commercially canned tomatoes are perfectly fine, but if I grew tomatoes I'd can them to preserve the harvest. 


Pickles and jams are the easiest and safest preserves for a home canner to make. Acid fruits, and the use of vinegar almost assure safety if you follow correct procedures and sterilize as instructed. This month so far I've made jam with purple plums and with golden pluots; I've made spicy tomato ketchup, sweet pickled peppers, and bread-and-butter pickles, all processed in a hot water bath. I've made smaller quantities of pickled red onions and pickled beets that I knew we'd eat up quickly, so I didn't bother to process them but just refrigerated them.
Bread and butter pickles
Next month when the lemons on our trees ripen, I'm going to make Moroccan preserved lemons and some lemon marmalade.

Do you "put food by"? Do you have family memories of canning and preserving? What does the coming of autumn stir inside you?

Pink Saturday -Pickled beets

 Pink Saturday - Beverly at the blog "How Sweet the Sound" hosts Pink Saturday. Let the color pink inspire you!

Whoops! Another Pink Saturday is upon us and I got nothing!  It's been a hectic week. But Wednesday I went to the Farmers Market and bought some beets.

Pickled beets are the easiest thing in the world. First you cook your beets - and for me, the method of least resistance is roasting.

Cut off the long tails and the leaves. Save the leaves for cooking (see later!) Clean your beets under the tap, dry with a paper towel, and rub with some olive oil. Then wrap the beets in foil, and pop into a 325 degree oven for about two hours. Let them cool to room temperature.

You can forget about them. If you have an oven with automatic settings, you can pop them in before you go to sleep, have the oven turn off at the right time, and then retrieve the foil packet in the morning. Or roast them while you're at work. You can roast them while you're cooking something else.

After roasting and cooling, the beets' skin will just slip off under your fingers. Then you can slice or cut them into whatever shapes you prefer - I like thin round slices.

Cooked beets will keep in Tupperware in the fridge for several days just like they are. If you pickle them, they keep a little longer. I like to slice a white onion along with them and chop some dill, and give them a good grind of black pepper and a pink of salt. Here, I just doused them with a few good shakes of red wine vinegar.

Farmers at the market always seem to sell beets in bunches of four large or five smallish roots. That's plenty for a week's worth of salad around our house. Happy Pink Saturday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Caifornia gold

Habanero chiles and tomatillos
The California Gold Rush started in 1848 when gold was discovered in Sutter's Mill, a settlement near Coloma on the American River. John Sutter, the founder of the settlement, wanted to create an agricultural utopia in California. So when John Marshall, the man who ran the settlement's sawmill, found gold nuggets in the mill's tailrace, Sutter wanted to hush it up. He feared that all his workers would abandon the fields and farms for mining.

The timing couldn't have been better. On February 2, 1848, the Mexican-American war ended with the signing of the treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo. In the treaty, Mexico ceded its territory of Alta California to the United States.

Although Marshall's discovery happened in late January, it wasn't until March that big-mouth San Francisco newspaperman and merchant Samuel Brannan returned from a visit to Sutter's Mill, announcing that gold had been discovered, and opened up a store to sell prospecting supplies.

Sutter's fears were proven right. Agricultural workers and city slickers alike rushed into the hills to strike it rich. The discovery was announced in the New York Herald in August of 1848, and confirmed by U.S. President James S. Polk in December.

Getting to California was not easy. You could sail from the East Coast south around the tip of South America and up to California - it took about eight months.Or you could sail to Panama, disembark, and fight your way across the isthmus jungles for a week, and then try to catch a ship north. Or you could trek overland across the continental divide. People came from Asia, from Australia and New Zealand, and from Europe, including Turkey and Basques from the Pyrenees.

 It's estimated that by 1855 some 300,000 people came to California. The population of San Francisco grew from 1,000 to 25,000 in just two years. Some came for gold; others came to make money off everyone else.

Sutter lost everything - no one cared about agriculture when you could mine for gold. Miners trespassing on his land broke his fences and ran his livestock off; his workers ran off; and eventually he lost his land. He moved to Pennsylvania, and later died in a Washington, D.C. hotel.


Today, California is reaping gold again. Golden beets on display here at the Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers' Market.


Gold-blushed pluots - this variety is called Flavor Grenade. I'm thinking of making some jam out of them!

John Sutter would have enjoyed this kind of Gold Rush.

I just love working within walking distance of the Farmers' Market! 

What's worth more than gold where you are?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Stretching it

This morning the canyon was in a white-out fog. Summer is surely over, even here in Los Angeles, where you can still get a raging hot Santa Ana in the middle of November.

Jack was out on the deck, licking his toes and other body parts as part of his morning toilette. We went out into the fog for our morning walk.


Today I decided to stretch it a little. Instead of walking south on our road, I went north - two-tenths of a mile to the intersection, then turned back, passing my driveway and continuing on my usual walk to the .30 mile marker. This adds four tenths of a mile to my one mile walk - now 1.4 miles.

You can think about a lot of things while you walk in the morning.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Good food for autumn

Click to "embiggen"
This week, an extraordinary event took place in Santa Monica. It was the Good Food Festival & Conference. Celebrating the bounty of the Farmers' Market and also the 30th anniversary of the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, the event took place all over town.

It opened with a kick-off at the Wednesday Farmers' market - the grand-daddy of the Los Angeles farmers' market movement. It's one of the largest, most diverse and most sought-after markets in town, where famous chefs come to shop for fresh produce for the finest restaurants in Los Angeles.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What I should have said


"Pardon me, sir, but I have to tell you how I feel. The bar at this little restaurant is small and narrow, and when you told a racist joke to your two friends, I couldn't avoid hearing it.

You sat there, just three feet from me, perhaps four feet from that lady over there who's quietly dining alone. You told a racist joke, and then - probably because your friends didn't laugh in response - you raised your voice and told it again.

What offends me is that you assumed you were safe airing your bigotry, here, in this Pacific Palisades restaurant - did you think I shared your views? How about that lady over there? And the friend I'm with? Did you think we would hear your ugly words and laugh? Or approve them? Or - perhaps worse - did you think we would simply not mind them? Find them commonplace, routine, normal, unremarkable?

How about the Latino waitress who served your drink? Do you think she found your joke about black people funny? When an African-American server waits on you, do you joke about Chicanos?

I'm even offended for your friends. It's not fair people will think less of them for being associated with you.

I think you owe an apology to everyone in this room."

But I didn't say it. Instead, I finished my drink, paid, left a good tip and left the restaurant. Why?

It's a nice little neighborhood place; we come every month or so, and the staff recognizes us. This time, it was my friend's birthday, and they bought him a drink. I didn't want to cause a fuss. I didn't want to embarrass the waitress, the bartender, the hostess.

Was I right? Would it have made any difference if I had spoken up? What would you do?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pink Saturday - Pickled red onions

 Pink Saturday - Beverly at the blog "How Sweet the Sound" hosts Pink Saturday. Let the color pink inspire you!


Fall brings the harvest, and traditionally, farmers and cooks spend autumn days preserving this bounty for winter meals. Fruits and vegetables are dried or smoked or pickled for keeping. Mixtures of fruits and vegetables are put up as relishes or conserves, flavored with spices or herbs.

In Mexico pickled vegetables are enjoyed as condiments with meals, whether they're pickled jalapenos, or slices of carrots, cauliflower, onions or green beans. These dishes are called escabeches, encurtidos, and vinaigretas

One Mexican pickle that's super easy to make is pickled red onions. I like to have a couple of jars of it in my fridge to serve anytime we have roast or grilled meats, especially smoked pork.


Pickled Red Onions

1 pound large red onions, cut in half and sliced into half-rings about 1/8" thick.
3 cups cider or pineapple vinegar
1 cup - or to taste - sugar
Spices of your preference - Cinnamon stick, allspice berries, star anise, small dried chiles, black peppercorns, whole cloves, dried oregano, bay leaf
3- 4 whole garlic cloves

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, and when it's boiling, put in the onions. Keep them in for 30 seconds, then remove and drain.

Mix the vinegar, sugar, spices and garlic. Put the onions in a clean glass jar, pour the vinegar mixture over them. Fill with water until the onions are covered, if the brine mixture doesn't cover them.


You can keep the jar in the fridge for a couple of month. They're great with grilled meats, served on burgers, or even added to sandwiches and salads.


The acid of the vinegar causes a chemical reaction with the pigment in red onions - as it does in red cabbage, When these vegetables contact acid they turn a brilliant magenta pink.

Make some this Pink Saturday!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Smoke


Artists work in many media. Whether it's paint or charcoal, bronze or stone, music, light, or dance, artists spend a lot of time working and re-working; practicing and revising and testing and perfecting.

[The Man I Love] is an artist of sorts. His medium happens to be meat. He has been using a charcoal-fired smoker to create the most delicious, savory, delectable smoked meats. He has had a Weber kettle-type grill for years, but this past summer, he bought himself a serious smoker. It's about four feet tall, and has two grills, so you can cook two things at a time. It looks like a black enamel R2D2, standing in our driveway.

I think this past weekend he achieved a masterpiece. Nine pounds of pork shoulder, slow-cooked over applewood smoke.

He woke up at five in the morning to put it on the fire. Our gathering was set to start at three - we planned to start serving at four. That's about ten hours of cooking time - but actually, for that size cut and at that low temperature, [The Man I Love] was worried that it wouldn't be done in time.


So, consulting the various books of barbecue lore, he chose to embrace a controversial technique called "foiling." After you've smoked the meat in dry heat, you wrap it in foil for the last few hours of cooking. This has two effects - it speeds up cooking time, and it also keeps the meat moist and juicy. That's the "pro" of foiling. The "con" is that you lose some of that delectable crust that forms on the surface by dry smoking alone.


He chose to foil it to make sure it was done in time for our guests. It was perfect and tender at four o'clock. Here's a close-up of the pink "smoke ring" that forms just under the surface of the meat when nitrogen dioxide from woodsmoke mixes with moisture in the meat, causing a chemical reaction that turns the meat pink.


[The Man I Love] and our neighbor, who shares his interest in savory-cooked pig parts, "pulled" or shredded the tender meat from the bone.

The foiling technique also resulted in a good cup or so of concentrated meat juices we saved in a jar. While the guys "pulled" the pork, they mixed tablespoons for this dark, rich juice with the meat. 


We served it Carolina-style, on a bun with a vinegar sauce and a sour-spicy cole slaw. Here is is, with a good quinoa salad one of our guests contributed.


I think he's getting pretty good at this. But artists, they always have to keep practicing!

Deep-dish peach-blackberry pie
Oh, if you want to know what my contribution to the gathering was - it was PIE.

I started Early - Took my Dog


I'm trying to maintain a regular habit of walking. When you have a young dog like Jack, it's pretty easy to get motivated.

Each morning I try to get out at 7:00 am. The street our house is on is almost exactly one mile long. It runs like a strand of cooked spaghetti dropped onto a crumpled table cloth - it twists and loops and doubles back on itself, high in places and sagging low into the wrinkled surface of the mountainside.

Our house is at the .8 mile mark, and the road is actually above the roofline of the house. From here, you can see across the canyon to the morning sun on the other side. Each morning, I walk down the course, looping down through shady oak groves, past homes and past driveways leading in to houses hidden in the trees.

The neighborhood used to be - it's said - a mountain resort for Los Angelenos who wanted a hideaway for deer and quail hunting, drinking, gambling and consorting with women of ill repute. A cluster of houses on our road, alongside the creek, are rumored to have been part of this hunting-cabin/speakeasy/brothel, and you can tell which ones they are - 1920s era clapboard cottages. The rest of the housing stock dates mostly from the 1960s - like our house - and the 1970s, a handful of assymetrical redwood structures with cathedral ceilings and hot tubs.

Jack and I walk down to the .3 mile mark, and then turn and walk back to our house. That's a mile each morning. 

I need to work up to more, though. Beyond the .3 mile mark, the street drops steeply down a hill, then rolls up and over until it meets the main road. I could walk down that hill, go to the main road, and then return - that would be a two-mile walk.

Maybe someday! This is my challenge for the next month! For now, a mile a day is what I can do.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thematic Photographic - Playing with light

Carmi at Written, Inc., posts a photographic challenge each week called Thematic Photographic - this week's theme is "PLAYING WITH LIGHT." 


Sooner or later, if you live and work in Los Angeles, you'll encounter an awards show. Whether you're working for a caterer, delivering a shipment of highly-valued awards, doing floral centerpieces, putting together goodie bags or vacuuming red carpets, you'll have some peripheral connection with this uniquely LA phenomenon.

Another view of the rig with technicians working in the air
I happened to wander on the set of one show recently while they were programming the lighting - playing with lights. This is a huge wheel-like truss of lights, poised high over the glossy stage with its runways and projection screens. Throughout the day, the technicians were "playing with light" - they were programming the looks, colors, and moves of the computerized lighting.


Here's a shot from further back - I've masked out the screen image to maintain the mystery. What show was it? You'll have to wait until the winners are announced!