Tuesday, July 31, 2007

July 31

I walked in a different direction from work today, and came across this 9-11 memorial outside a fire station. There was even a black marble bench for me to sit on while I drew.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

July 27

Like lantana, I first became aware of paspalum at Kiama. It hung over the pathway from our tent to the beach, and left a rash on my wet, salty legs.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007

July 22

There's an RV in my neighbourhood that's been for sale for at least as long as we've lived here (3+ years). It gets the occasional use -- every now and then it disappears for the weekend -- but mostly it's just parked in the street making the turn from Galt onto McLaren a little more difficult.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

July 21

We got the CarFax report (clean), we looked in Kelley Blue Book (our potential purchase seemed a little underpriced), we found out the trade-in value of the truck (not too much less than the car we wanted), we decided what deal we'd settle for, and Josh went back this morning and got the car, a little Scion XB. We ended up paying $500 more than we wanted to, but $2500 less than their starting point. It's done. We should now be able to save at least $500 a month in fuel, which will REALLY help the budget. Whew!

Then Evie and I did Walk 23 from Walking LA. This route is all about the mansions of Hancock Park/Windsor Square. There's some OLD money there. These are not your movie stars' homes, hidden behind high walls. They are, Evie tells me, very reminiscent of large old homes "back east." She herself grew up in an enormous, 250 year old house in New Jersey. We saw some really lovely places, including this Victorian mansion that looks a little like a haunted house. You can see all the photos here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

July 20

I don't talk much about personal stuff on this blog, but I have to preface this story by saying it's been a very tough year for us, financially. I spent all day yesterday and today trying to wrestle a household budget into submission. By five this evening, I was exhausted and somewhat depressed. I pulled the portobello mushrooms from the fridge to start preparing dinner, and realised they were way past their prime. Screw it, we're going out, I announced to my surprised husband.

On the way to Acapulco, where we shared a single meal and one margarita, I came up with a new suggestion for how we could handle our vehicular issues. It amounted to this: we replace Josh's aging, fuel-guzzling truck (which, though paid off, costs us $800 a month to feed) not with a shiny new pickup (which is what he'd love) but with a car cheap enough for Ian to afford when it's time for him to have wheels. He needs enough room to cart a drum kit, which would perhaps satisfy Josh's desire for cargo space, at least in the interim till we're in better financial shape. This suggestion was received with a remarkably open mind, and over the fajitas and margarita, Josh suggested we go to a few car yards on the way home and kick a few tyres.

Well, I absolutely hate buying cars, and I despise car yards, and I was strung out, wrung out, and just not in the mood. But the half a margarita made me say OK, with the proviso that we had to leave immediately if we were attacked by piranha sales people. I suggested a certain dealer on our route home, and within five minutes we'd bought a car.

Well, I'm not saying the sale was finalised in 5 minutes, but we found the car we want, and if they will give us enough of a trade on the truck tomorrow morning, we just might have a deal.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

July 19

I went to the nursery today to buy some mint to plant at the base of our drip-fed bird bath. (Something besides grass may as well be taking advantage of the constant damp.) While there, I decided to take a rest under a shady pergola and sketch my little purchase.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sunday, July 15, 2007

July 15

Lauren and I attended the semi-annual craft fair phenomenon known as Felt Club today. It was VERY crowded, and very hot (and quite dark) there in the Ukranian Cultural Center. The fire marshall would have had a fit. I think Felt Club's success has caught up with them, and they've outgrown this venue. Hopefully the next one will be somewhere bigger, better lit and temperature-regulated. But the crafts were great! Lauren and I enjoyed looking at all the groovy stuff.

Then, because we were so close by, we did Walk 22 from Walking LA, which is basically a square block of Melrose Hill that has some historically significant California bungalows. Lauren, who is usually a good sport on occasions like this, got a bit whiny with the heat, so I'm glad the walk was only half a mile. You can see the photos here.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

July 14

It was a day of delicious outings. In the morning Evie and I explored Upper Beachwood Canyon, right under the landmark Hollywood sign. I know I keep mentioning the staircases on these walks (who knew LA has so many?), but these ones are extra special. When S.H. Woodruff created Hollywoodland in 1923, he had European stonemasons construct six long stairways of wrought iron and stone to connect the winding, steep streets. Our walk today included all six of them, which have been preserved as historical monuments. It was quite a workout. You can see all the photos here.

Then in the afternoon Josh, Lauren and I went to The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon to see A Midsummer Night's Dream. What a magical few hours! The play was wonderfully staged, costumed, and acted, and this outdoor amphitheatre in canyon woodland is the perfect setting for Shakespeare's very funny and engaging piece of theatre. Lauren was a little reluctant to go, fearing she'd have trouble with the language, but we read a synopsis together beforehand and drew a little flow chart of the characters and their relationships, which really helped. Even if she couldn't understand all the dialogue, she knew the gist of what was happening, and she only squirmed a little. We headed home feeling refreshed and light hearted. Truly wonderful.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

July 11

On today's lunch time walk I spotted a vine I'd never seen before. Obviously a member of the passionfruit family, it was festooned with bright orange oval-shaped fruits. I opened one and ate the glossy red seeds inside. They were rather tasteless but had a nice texture. I picked another to bring home and maybe plant, and when I got back to the office I googled "passionfruit vine orange" (how did we ever live before Google?) and learned that this is the Blue Passion Flower (Passiflora caerulea). Interestingly, it is named for the flower, not the fruit. I have a soft spot for passion fruit, so I'll be planting these seeds and hoping for a vine in my back yard.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

July 10

Today I walked at lunch time, in a 2 mile circuit from my workplace, exploring new streets. I was delighted to spot both papyrus and pomegranates nodding over a brick wall.

Monday, July 09, 2007

July 9

In all my wanderings around this city, I've come to realise that there are certain things I really like to see. The other day I mentioned food plants. I've also told you in the past that I like seats by front doors. And another thing I respond to is semi-concealed entrances like this one, where an archway and iron gate span the pathway to the door. A little bit of mystery, but not a blocked view. I like it.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Saturday, July 07, 2007

July 7

I love seeing food plants growing in suburban front yards. I have no idea who made the rule that food, especially vegetables, must be relegated to the back yard, but the old Permaculture hippy in me delights in seeing houses like this, where figs, loquats and grapes flourish along the front fence.

Friday, July 06, 2007

July 6

I've never seen a fire hydrant with all these bits and pieces attached, but Josh tells me it often happens near construction sites, so the workers can get water via a regular tap instead of needing huge spanners to turn the nuts. This one's near the school, where they have now torn up at least half the grounds.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

July 5

I got up half an hour earlier today to walk in the cool before the pre-work rush. I took a new route, mapped on this fabulous web site. I've been looking for a tool like this for ages: a map I can draw a route on, and find out the distance. Very useful. Anyway, I spotted this cat standing on an outside windowsill. It obligingly stood still for long enough for me to sketch it from my vantage point across the road.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

July 4

We celebrated Independence Day in the time-honoured American tradition, with a barbecue at the park. A whole bunch of families in our extended group of friends go to the same park every year, where an egg toss and softball game are also on the agenda. I didn't partake in either of these strenuous activities; I sat in the shade, knitted, and sketched. The forecast was for 108°F (42°C) but it was at least 10° cooler than that and we had a nice breeze, so it was really a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sunday, July 01, 2007

July 1

June 30

In the morning, Evie and I explored Lower Beachwood Canyon in the Hollywood Hills. I love all the staircases we're discovering. This one leads up to a mansion formerly owned by Barbara Stanwyck. The current resident apparently asserts it is 'very haunted.' You can see all the photos of our walk here.

In the evening Josh, Lauren, Lola and I took part in an LA institution: Sing-a-long Sound Of Music (and costume parade) at the Hollywood Bowl. This also takes place in various other parts of the world on an annual basis.

I made friends with a five-year-old girl sitting near me. She asked me to draw her, then said she hated her jacket so unzipped it, then pulled it up over her head and asked me to draw THAT.

She then demanded that I draw her mother and sister, which I did, along with a few of the other 18,000 people singing, cheering, and heckling gustily as the movie played out. Fun night.