Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Walk in Downtown Los Angeles

On our recent visit to Los Angeles we took a trip downtown. 
Entrance to North Hollywood subway station
We drove to the subway station in North Hollywood.  There was not subway in LA when I was growing up.  There had been a trolley line until 1961 but after that there were only buses.  The red line was the first of two subways in LA and began operation in 1993.
LA Times building
We exited the subway at civic center and walked down Spring Street.  Soon we found ourselves in front of a building that had been very important in my life, the L A Times building.  I wanted to go in.
There it was in the lobby.  That impressive looking machine that had provided my father and our family a living since before I was born.  My parents said it was the same Linotype that my father had used most of the time.  He would type the text (the keyboard was not the qwerty most of us know) and mats would fall into place.  A rod of lead called a "pig" slowly made its way into a pot where it melted and eventually the molten lead was molded into type by the mats.  That's my understanding of the process though I suspect it is quite flawed.

Our son, Eric, had his sights on Japanese cuisine for lunch so after viewing the exhibits in the Times Lobby  we headed to Little Tokyo and lunched on ramen or udon.
I was intrigued by these trees, decorated with slips of paper with what appeared to be wishes written on them.

L A City Hall
After lunch we walked back to the civic center.  At a height of 150' City Hall was the tallest building in Los Angeles from its completion in 1928 until 1962.  The city charter had not permitted any building to be higher until the late 1950s.
Grand Park fountain
We wandered up the hill through the Grand Park.  This area had recently been revitalized with tables gardens and play equipment and the ubiquitous Starbucks .  We sat a while at one on the many tables and watched the people wading in the the new shallow pool below the restored Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain.
Disney Concert Hall
Some one wanted ice cream so we headed down down Grand Ave, past the interesting Disney Concert Hall.
MOCA sculpture
 Past an unusual sculpture by the Museum of Contemporary Art.  Are those pieces or airplanes?  I wasn't quite sure.
Finally we arrived at the Grand Central Market.  A place I recall going with my mother as a young child.  Five stars for the ice cream at McConnells.
My suggestion to go to the L A Central Library was vetoed (great images to be had there) so we headed to the subway at Pershing Square and got back on the Red Line train.  We were a bit disconcerted when an announcement said we were on the purple line and we got off.  Then a real person announced that they were having problems with the automated announcement system and it was in fact on the right train. So we got back on.
It was a good day.

This is a view of my world, to see more world views check out  Our World Tuesday

Friday, October 14, 2016

Let's be a Beacon: It is not ok!

Let's be a Beacon: It is not ok!:   When I was in my late teens I took the bus to college. In those days I wore skirts to school. A man came and sat next to me, he ran hi...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Feather in the Sky

Waiting, watching the sky for the promised, much needed storm I spotted this interesting cloud formation.
You can see more interesting skies at Skywatch Friday, check it out and join us!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Let's be a Beacon: Trump as the Wizard of Oz

 What will our country look like if Trump is elected?  When voters are forced to remove the the emerald glasses they will see not a great nation but a train wreck.

Let's be a Beacon: Trump as the Wizard of Oz: "Don't look at the man behind the curtain, look over there!" Remember that line from the Wizard of Oz, when Toto pulled down...

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fall in the Air

It was another beautiful evening, cool enough to lengthen our evening walk and head to "Mallard Pond".  We haven't been there for awhile.  In summer it is a quiet spot with little wildlife.  We might spot an occasional flycatcher or flicker but the geese, ducks, raptors and egrets are gone, until last night.

The ducks haven't yet returned but squadron after squadron of noisy geese were seen heading in for the night.  Now they gather together in large groups, seeming to enjoy each others company.  In a few months they will pair off and no longer tolerate the intrusion of other geese,  chasing them off from their territory and their mates.

In the dim light I spotted the snowy egret, returned to its place in the shallows.  It was too far away to see its large, bright yellow feet which it uses to stir up the mud.

Then we spotted a roiling in the water.  What could be causing the wakes, the turbulence. The light was dim and I didn't have my bins then "SPLASH", OK, beaver.  I don't have to see them to recognize them when they slap the water with their tail.

We also saw some year-round residents, a young coyote and the rabbits that supply sustenance to the coyotes tribe.

I look forward to the coming seasons as the birds return and we see a new generations of all the creatures that inhabit the nearby open spaces.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Exporting Californina's Water

I like this little creek that flows in the vale behind our house.  No, it's not the prettiest but it provides habitat for a variety of wildlife.  Quail, pheasants, raptors and many other birds make their home here.  Coyotes and bobcats find sustenance from the rabbits and voles that live here.  While the stream is natural, the flow is not.  It is managed to provide irrigation water for the rice fields father west.  Is that a problem?  Maybe, maybe not, it depends on your point of view
California is in a drought, homeowners are asked to conserve water and many of us do.  I use a minimum  of detergent when I wash clothes or dishes and collect the water to use on the garden.  No lawn for us, much of the landscaping produces fruit and vegetables and that which doesn't gets little water other than rain.

That irrigation water flowing behind my house mostly goes to grow rice and most of that rice is exported.  In fact, most of what California grows is exported.  Farmers choose crops for profit (it just makes economic sense) and not for what is needed here at home.  I'm not sure how I feel about that, the world needs to be fed and it is good that we have a surplus of food but perhaps there are less water intensive crops that can be grown.

Rice is only part of the problem, though.  There are other water intensive crops grown in California that do not feed people.  Alfalfa is a very water intensive crop and much of the alfalfa grown in California is sent to China.

Another water intensive crop, even more problematic is cotton grown in the San Joaquin  Valley.  I don't know whether to laugh or cry each time I see a cotton wagon covered with a sign saying "food grows where water flows".

Water is a complex and controversial subject in the west.  Streams that once flowed abundantly and freely are now diverted to agriculture so little water remains to reach the delta.  Aquifers are being drawn down at an alarming rate to grow almonds and other crops for export.  Our water laws were written for a simpler time, a time when water seemed abundant and few cared about the future of the environment or our ability to feed a growing world population.

Don't think I am maligning the family trying to make a living off the land.  Much of California's farms are owned by large conglomerates or hedge funds.  Unlike traditional farmers they don't take a long view, they will draw down the water table, take their profits and leave a dust bowl behind.

While I don't agree with all of the positions of the California Water Impact Project, they do have a lot of information on their site for those interested in the subject.

More information about water and agriculture can be found here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Eastern Sierra--Virginia Creek

We went up to our cabin last week and I went hiking for the first time this summer.  Jules no longer feels confident in his hiking ability so I headed up the trail on my own.

In spite of all the fires in California and Nevada the air was crisp and the views spectacular.
I never tire of these lakes but I did get tired.  Since we spend most of the year near sea level the 9,600' elevation is starting to get to me.  I made it, six miles round trip with 1,000' elevation gain.  Back at the cabin I collapsed in the hammock for an hour.
We needed some distilled water for the batteries (our off the grid cabin uses solar cells to charge batteries for night time energy) and saw that there was a new fire in the area.  Now, five days later it is 85% contained.
Traveling further down the road we found evidence of nature's resilience.  The Marina fire burned this slope five weeks earlier and there is already new growth.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Let's be a Beacon: trump in an Alternate Universe

Let's be a Beacon: trump in an Alternate Universe: I'm not sure what universe trump lives in but it sure isn't the one I live in.  Little that he says has any resemblance to the real ...

Monday, July 25, 2016

Mono Lake and the Drought

We went down to the site of the Old Marina on Mono Lake near Lee Vining to see how five years of drought have effected the lake level

Easy to see that the lake level has fallen exposing more of the tufa formations.
A docent told us that he used to read the water depth on this gauge, now high and dry.
Turning around we could see what may be another effect of the drought, the results of the recent "Marina Fire".  It's hard to know how much drought may be contributing to fire in the west, fire is something we have always dealt with.  Drought and the extremely hot weather do not help.  
My hat goes off to the firefighters, I sure couldn't do that hard work in the heat.  
The fire burned all around this little lodge across from the lake.  It survived unscathed thanks to the fire crews but I'm sure that the owners were nervous.

Visit Our World Tuesday for more views of our wonderful world

Monday, June 13, 2016

Radical Christianity

 There are those who would use the tragedy in Orlando for political gain calling the actions of one mentally ill man an example of "radical Islam" and condemning all Muslims.
Some would have us exclude Muslims from our country for fear or "radical Islam".
Should we then exclude all Christians for fear of "radical Christianity" as exhibited by people like Eric Rudolph?
Around our nation so-called Christians have been preaching violence against the LGBT community for years.  Is this the type of nation we want to be?  Are hate filled Christians any better than hate filled Muslims.
Who was it that said "let he who is without sin cast the first stone"? Oh, right, that was Jesus, wasn't it?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Spring an a Northern California Garden

I've taken these images over the last few weeks.  I had never appreciated the succession of bloom until moving to northern California.  It is like a symphony, as the weeks go by different flowers come into bloom as others fade away.

The daffodils were first but I neglected to get an image of them.  Next came the red tulips and then these beauties in shades of yellow and orange.

The dutch Iris added there music,

Color and a heady fragrance came with the wisteria.
The dogwood didn't bloom well this year.  Perhaps it was the  drought.  Some years it has so many blossoms it positively glows in the moonlight.
All of these are done now and I must wait for next year to see them again.
Now it is time for the poppies and in the shade there are white and pink azaleas.
The last of the Dutch iris grow with the clematis.  Roses bloom now as well and some of my tall bearded iris.  Later will be the lilies.  The fruit trees and blueberries which bloomed earlier now have fruit-lets promising new delights as the blooms of the garden fade.

This is my world in the Spring.  Find more views of the world here at Our World, Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What's in a Name

We were in Yosemite on March 1st when the names of some of the parks prominent lodgings were changed.

The "Camp Curry" sign has been a fixture for years
 and while the canvas sign covering the old name doesn't have the charm of the old sign I have no problem with the new name.  The Curry family is long gone from the park.  Likewise, I have no problem with changing "Yosemite Lodge at the Falls" to simply Yosemite Valley Lodge.  I've always simply called it "The Lodge".
The Name "Ahwahnee" honors the native people and it is sad to see that one go.

Waking up on March 1st we found that most traces of the old name were now gone.  The old logo and name on the trash cans had been covered over, the dishes in the dinging room had been replaced with plain white ones, replacing those which had been in use for as long as I can remember.

Later that morning I heard a noise at our door, on opening it I found that the "hibernating" tag had been replaced and the doormat that had the Awhahnee name as logo was missing.  I half expected some one to come in and demand the robes hanging in the closet!

My feelings about the whole thing were part amusement and part sadness.  Yosemite has been an important part of my life since I was five but changing the names does not change the beauty of the park and I don't think it will reduce the number of visitors.  So, what's in a name, not much.

This is a view of my world, you can view other parts of Our wonderful world here

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

California's Water

There was plenty of water flowing in Yosemite Falls the end of February.
Water too, in the seasonal Royal Arch Cascade
Unseasonably warm temperatures have caused the Sierra snow pack to melt early making things look better than they are.  In truth, the March snow survey showed the snow pack to be only 83% of average for this time of year.
 The early runoff has brought Don Pedro lake up enough for people to launch small boats but it is easy to see it still has a long way to go, as do all of the reservoirs in California.  We are still in a sever drought.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Walking the Neighborhood

Jules and I try to walk each day and our most frequent walk takes us 5 miles through a combination of residential streets and open space.  I won't show you the streets, one looks much like the other but the open space makes the walk worth while.

A half mile from our house we enter this delightful oak woodland. Acorn woodpeckers and scrub jays add their raucous voices to that of the song birds.
 I love this view of the granite and oak against the sky.
I turn around and get a different view.
Four  miles from the start of our walk brings us to this pond.  Sitting on the thoughtfully placed bench we rest in this mostly quiet spot and enjoy watching the ducks and geese.  Usually the resident snowy egret will come near, sometimes I catch a glimpse of a belted kingfisher.  Usually there is a phoebe darting from a branch in search of insects or a hawk soaring above.  We sit a while in quiet contemplation then head for home.
See more images of our world at Our World, Tuesday

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Consumnes River Preserve

We've been getting a lot of rain here in Northern California (at last!) but Saturday was dry with some lovely but non threatening clouds.  Since we had family visiting from the southern part of the state we decided to visit the Consumnes River Preserve.

There were picnic tables at the visitor center and a boardwalk that made the wetlands accessible. We started our visit with a picnic and then checked out the visitor center which is staffed by knowledgeable volunteers.  We then strolled along the boardwalk to see how many birds we could find.  There were a lot, both in number and variety.

Cinnamon Teal


 Green Winged Teal
 Northern Pintail

 Northern Shoveler

 Common Snipe?
(not sure about this one)

American Kestrel

 For more information about the preserve check out their website
You can find more views of our amazing world at Our World Tuesday.
More birds can be spotted at Wild Bird Wednesday found on Stewart's blog "Paying Ready Attention"

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


I love the variety of bird found here in Lincoln hills in the winter.  When the hawks, egrets and herons return we know that summer is over.

The most frequent of our daily walks takes us to a pond full of mallards.  It is a favorite breeding spot for these ducks.  Mallards aren't the only birds to be found here, though.

A few days ago I brought my camera hoping to get a shot of an owl that has been hanging out in the area.

The owl was nowhere to be seen on this afternoon but a little snowy egret could be seen hunting at the edge of the pond.

It took little notice of me as I clicked away, hoping for a great shot.  The one at the right is the sharpest but the one at the top may be my favorite.

Check out Wild Bird Wednesday at Paying Ready Attention to see more of our avian friends.