Friday, January 31, 2014

Weekend coming up

I apologize for the light posting. I'm taking an online writing course, so most of my writing time is being spent on my assignments.

But I've finished this week's work, and I will be embarking on a couple of adventures this weekend that I know I will want to share with you. Since I'm not a Super Bowl fan, I'll have some time to work on that!

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Great news

Tonight we heard from our son that he's been accepted into the PhD program he applied to at University of California at Berkeley.

He is coming home from London in March, via Tokyo to visit a friend (so jealous!!). He'll be staying with us until he starts school in the fall.

He has always, since infancy, made his own road when he was ready to set out. I'm so proud to be his mom.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cat women

This Sunday, we attended the Cat Art Show LA, in Hollywood. Benefitting the Stray Cat Alliance, the show features cat-themed art by a host of accomplished artists, including heavy hitters like Shepard Fairey and Buff Monster. You can read more about the show and its curator HERE.

Shepard Fairey cat print
Joining us was my good internet friend, Heidi of Smalltown Me, the proprietor of the Online Gallery of American Vernacular Cat Art, and her husband.  Before the show, we met for brunch at the Hollywood branch of The Hungry Cat restaurant, and supped upon delicious seafood, as properly fits discerning felines.

[The Man I Love]
took a photo of us two Cat Women. I think I must have been talking when he clicked the shutter. I look silly, Heidi looks great!!


A guide to fine dining

This piece has been cross-posted at Mrs. G's blog for women, Derfwad Manor. Go visit there and read her wonderful stories, and works by other women writers.

In adventure stories, explorers visiting a strange land find a trusty native guide to show them around, find food, and survive. When I came to Los Angeles in the fall of 1996, I was overwhelmed by its size and breadth, and I could not grasp its unfocused geography. The streets and boulevards were chaotic, lined with a visual cacophony of signs in multiple languages I could not decipher. But then I met Mark.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A hot mess

One of the most well-known dishes served in Korean restaurants is known by the fun alliterative name of bibimbap, a bowl of rice with an assortment of vegetable, meat and other toppings. In restaurants it's often served in a hot stone pot called a dolsot, and comes to the table hissing and sputtering so furiously you can feel the heat of it radiating in your face.

A one-bowl dish, bibimbap is a good option for a solo diner - it's not easy to do Korean barbecue for one, after all! Gamja Bawi in the food court at Koreatown Plaza on Western Avenue is known for serving one of the best and cheapest versions in town.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Half-life of a Buried Past

The term “half life” means the period of time it takes for the amount of a decaying substance to decrease by half. Often used to describe toxicity or radioactivity, half-life doesn’t mean that all the toxic particles in a contaminated deposit are half as toxic as before – it’s that enough have degraded to halve the toxicity of the entire mass. Some atoms may now be inert, harmless. But others pulse just as deadly as ever.

This is how I think of a shabby cardboard box that now sits in my basement, after its contents spent the last 23 years hidden away.  Inside is a jumble of spiral notebooks, composition books and artist's sketch books, filled with handwriting. My personal journals, from 1966 to 1982 or thereabouts.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The other side of the mountains

Griffith Park Trail
It may seem a little silly for people who live in the Santa Monica Mountains to drive thirty miles across town to go hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains, but that's what we did on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday.

The transverse mountain range where our home is located runs from Griffith Park overlooking the City of Los Angeles all the way west to Point Mugo in Ventura County. We drove to the park and left the car just north of the Greek Theatre, and took the fire road trail up. It was dry and hot, but the trail wound around so that half the time we were on the shaded side of the cliffs.

And here's what's really magical about hiking Griffth Park, and why we drove all the way there from Topanga.

Click to "embiggen"
The experience is like inhabiting multiple worlds - the quintessential Los Angeles experience. You are walking on a dusty trail through rugged chaparral, scrub oak and pines, when suddenly you round the bend to see a vista of modern skyscrapers, and in the foreground the emerald green of a golf course.  All this, within the boundaries of a major urban city.  I don't know of any other city where the boundaries between the streets and the wilderness are so ephemeral.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Moon at sunrise

Click to "embiggen"
 I'm rather pleased about this photo, taken Friday morning when the full moon set while the sun was rising.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


It's in the low 80s today, can you believe it? I'm chilling and sipping a cool mango smoothie in a Koreatown coffee shop with a palm- shaded patio.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Run ragged

It's been a chaotic week. I had anticipated joining an evening class, and that was cancelled at the last minute. I have signed up for an online class, and have been working on the first assignment.

Then a brush fire in our neighborhood disrupted our lives and our complacency, if only for an afternoon. And another fire caused a huge logistics nightmare for a couple days. I've been taking some training courses at work, which fill my days, and then there's work, too.

Plus, here in Los Angeles, there's another fire - far away from us, but even so, a pretty bad fire where people have lost their homes. The air is dry, we're all tense; it's an anxious time.

I hope to have more interesting things to post over the weekend.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Slow cooking

Image from KTLA - click to "embiggen"
 I left my office at 4:30 pm today, and got home at 8:20. Since Pacific Coast Highway was closed, I had to go north on 26th Street to Sunset Boulevard, and go through Pacific Palisades.

16.1 miles normally takes 35 minutes.  Tonight it took just under four hours.  It took me from 5:35 to 6:35 just to travel from Wilshire Boulevard to Montana - four blocks.

But - on the bright side, no one's house burned down. Good night everyone, and stay safe.

Red flag update

This afternoon around 12:30 pm, a brush fire started near Red Rock Canyon Road and Old Topanga Canyon Road. This is the place we park our car when we hike Red Rock, like we did Saturday.

[The Man I Love] was on his way into town, and after we spoke on the phone he turned back, in case things went bad and we would need to evacuate Jack and our computer hard drives. Thankfully, firefighters responded, including two Super-Scoopers, and the fire was contained without damaging homes. But because of the fierce wind and dry conditions, hot spots were flaring up throughout the afternoon.

I went into a meeting and when I came out I took a phone call from a friend who works at the Beach. There's another fire, this time on the bluffs above Pacific Coast Highway. She and her co-workers can see the flames from their workplace

Photo from NBC4, Los Angeles
Once again, our brave firefighters are in action, though this one is scary indeed, on steep bluffs with homes at the top. Good thing the Super Scoopers are on it.

Pacific Coast Highway is closed to northbound traffic - this is between me and home.  I'm going to have to go around the long way.

From KTLA - click to "embiggen"
This is serious business, this drought. I've never seen it drier at this time of year. 

Monday, January 13, 2014


I was all set to go to the first session of a creative writing class at the UCLA Extension tomorrow evening. Today I got an email cancelling the class due to low enrollment. I have the choice of enrolling in an alternate class or getting a refund. I'll contact the Extension office tomorrow and decide.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Red flag warning

It's dry. It's drier than I can remember, in the 15 years since we moved to California.

We hiked in Red Rock Canyon yesterday, and the creek, which in past Januarys has been full, fast and flowing, was bone dry. No puddles teeming with tadpoles. Not a trickle. Not a drop. Most years, at this time, tender green grass and annual wildflowers are sprouting up, greening the hills. Not this year - there's nothing growing.

The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy has already, this early, weed-whacked dry vegetation back some fifty feet or more from the fire roads.

It's dry skin weather; bloody nose weather. My hands feel like sandpaper, my hair crackles with static electricity.

Though the nights are chill, today a hot wind was blowing through the canyon as I walked Jack, and the trees swayed and tossed. There's a red flag warning out. At Fire Station 69, the sign is posted for Extreme Fire Danger. It's supposed to get warmer in the next few days.

At evening, the winds suddenly stilled. The sunset was brilliant, hot and pink.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A chicken in every pot

Though the common impression of Korean food is robust, meaty and chili-seasoned, seared in smoky charcoal flames and washed down with copious amounts of harsh alcohol, there is another side to Korean food. Perhaps as a direct reaction to these sensory excesses, Korean cusine also includes simple and healthful recipes.

Sam gye tang is Korean chicken ginseng soup, and like chicken soups of other cultures, it's considered a traditional remedy for those who are weak, ill or need restoration of the soul and palate much sapped by gustatory dissipation.

Ginseng is said to boost metabolism, reduce stress, soothe respiratory ailments, and invigorate the appetite, and sam gye tang is often recommended in the heat of summer. This sounds paradoxical, but in summer our appetites are often subdued, so hot food spurs circulation to the internal organs, restoring vigor.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What a beautiful morning

This is what the mountain looked liked this morning. We are getting a little ocean mist in our air now, the dryness in the air we've been suffering has been tempered a little.

I had my job interview. It went well, it was pleasant.

The job itself pays, to start, about $5000 a year more than I'm making now, but each year for the following five years you go up another step. I'm already at the top step in the job I have now - I started at the top, which was about 2/3rd the salary I made in the job that was eliminated.

The job itself seems to be a lot of work with a data base. I don't mind that, but doing it all day long might be dreary. No working with customers or the public. The work environment is very blue-collar and casual, but it's right next door to an art museum. The work hours are very early - 7:00 am start. That's even earlier than my new job here!

I have no idea whether I will be offered the job or not, but I'm open to whatever happens.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Another chance

Back in November, I interviewed for a position within my organization, but was not selected. Yesterday I got an email from Human Resources directing me to contact the same department, to interview again for the same classification. I am on the recruitment list for this classification for perhaps two more weeks, so it's a timely message.

Was it a mistake? Or did the person they hire not work out? Intrigued, I called.

"It's a different vacancy. Someone else took another job. Can you come in tomorrow at 1:00?"


"Sure!" I said. Why not?

So tomorrow I put on the dress slacks and heels and go interview for a job I know nothing about - except the classification and pay.  It would be a raise.

There are changes everywhere. Just yesterday, we learned that the head of our department has accepted a job change - she'll be doing Special Projects. This could be a promotion, or it could be a kick upstairs - who really knows?  We're told her replacement will be recruited from Outside. 

What do I have to lose?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I had a dream

I had a dream last night that my dog pooped in the house. In my dream, I could smell the mess, but people talking to me in my dream assured me that it wasn't true.

When I woke up the smell was still there.

I lurched out of bed. Jack is a creature of habit, so I looked in the places where he'd "had an accident" before - in the corner of my bedroom and in the corner of my husband's office. Nothing. Jack, the culprit himself, lounged innocently in the hallway.

I stumbled to my bathroom to put in my contact lenses. Gah!

He'd found a new shit site. The linoleum and the throw rug were blotched with his droppings. Interestingly, he'd gone into the stand-up shower and performed a perfect pirouette there.

I blindly mopped up the linoleum wth paper towels and Lysol, turned on the shower, and put the rug under the spray. Then I put in my lenses.

While the shower ran, I checked the front of the house, and found that the bathroom number had been a second act. Another perfect circle of turds were in the living room corner that has been his customary "oops" place.

I banished the perpetrator to the outside deck with a chew stick and started in on this mess. I checked the shower. Everything was clean.

Then I put on some coffee.

Poor Jack. Gastric distress isn't fun. But at least he found the shower.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Proud to be a guest-poster

Pescado Zerandeado at Coni Seafood in Inglewood, CA
The community of bloggers is a generous one! I'm grateful to Mrs. G at Derfwad Manor for hosting my guest posts about food. Go visit her blog for some great writing, and guest posts by writers way better than me!

Here's my most recent post, The Squeamish Eater.

My other posts about food at Derfwad Manor can be found  HERE.

Thematic Photographic - Favorite photos of 2013

Carmi at the blog "Written, Inc." hosts a photographic get-together, based on a weekly theme. For the end of 2013, Carmi urges us to post our favorite photos of the year.

Click to "embiggen"

This is one of my favorite photos, although it may have been taken earlier than 2013 - I don't remember the date. But what I do remember, very vividly, are the circumstances.

I was driving to work one morning, when I observed an unusual flocking of sea birds on the beach. On impulse, I pulled onto the shoulder of Pacific Coast Highway, parked, and took my camera down to the sand.

There were sea-birds everywhere! Pelicans and gulls, all kinds of birds. I was not the only person who stopped to watch. We all shared our wonder at the beauty of so many birds.

As I walked back to the place where I'd parked my car, I took a series of photos toward the sand and the water, and while I snapped away, this woman walked into my frame, going the same direction. I don't know her name, but I do love this photo as she turns to watch the birds and the sky.

As I read this morning about the cold gripping the rest of the country, I am reminded how lucky I am to be in a place where birds fly to winter.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Gut bomb!

Grilled beeliner at Mykonos Restaurant
Gourmet is the word for an exacting and refined food critic, one with high standards and discernment, and disdain for food that is not of the highest caliber and art. Gourmand is the word for someone who likes to eat. My family and I are unabashed gourmands. Recently we were trying to count the different kinds of protein we've eaten in the last two weeks. It turns out to be quite a menagerie.

While in the Tampa Bay area, we dined at our favorite Greek restaurant in Tarpon Springs. Grilled octopus, pan-fried perch, grilled whole beeliner (vermillion snapper) and Greek-style grouper. Then, Our Son cooked a roast leg of lamb for Christmas dinner with beer-boiled gulf shrimp for appetizers.

Cry me a river

"Sun Moon Dome" - Adam Leventhal. 5th & Main Street, Los Angeles
Nothing says "Happy New Year" like a malfunctioning septic tank!  How's your New Year so far?