Thursday, December 31, 2015

Guinness and Amy in the Morning Sun

Amy and Gus have a nice little porch on the front of their house, and it has been outfitted for sitting.  It is a wonderful place to sit and read, or to have coffee in the morning.  It is one of Amy's favorite places.  And their cats enjoy the porch as well.  I came outside one morning with my cup of coffee and found Amy and Guiness enjoying the sun, so I joined them!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Eames Studio

About six months ago I watched a documentary on PBS about the designers Charles and Ray Eames.  They were husband and wife American designers who made significant historical contributions to the development of modern architecture and furniture. Among their most well-known designs is the Eames Lounge Chair. They also worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, exhibition design, fine art and film. I was stunned to learn that their studio, which was in operation for more than forty years, is on Washington Boulevard, in Venice, California!  So I went hunting for it this trip, and found it.  Unfortunately, when I visited it several times, there were cars parked in front.  I liked the light on the building at this time of day, so I had to live with the cars in the photograph.  The building was a garage before it was a studio, and it was recently for sale, and it was purchased by someone.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

California Redux

I have so many photographs from California that I haven't been able to post, that I have decided to do a "California Week" (you know, like "Shark Week") so that you will get to see more interesting photographs than just the northeast on cold, gray, and rainy days.  In addition to singing, Sarah is an accomplished violinist, and guitar player!  Here she is sitting in the living room and practicing on her guitar.  I was just using my computer, and so I reached over and got my toy camera and took a few photographs.  And I listened to the lovely guitar music, of course.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Lucy Under the Tree

This is Lucy who is Sarah's cat, and she is a phantom cat!  There is also another cat, Oliver, and he is missing one front leg.  Oliver makes himself seen and will come over and allow us to pet him, but Lucy is mostly an apparition!  After spending four days or so in the house, Lucy could be seen peeking around a corner at us, and then would disappear.  By the last day, she would sit on the arm of the couch, with a wary look on her face.  At one point she spent some time in the living room, but only under the Christmas tree, peering out at the world.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Heading Home

We headed home this morning after an amazing week in Los Angeles.  I kept my eye out the window as we headed into Utah and Colorado.  On the way out west, you probably remember my photograph of Monument Valley and the red color of the landscape.  Only 15 minutes or so east of that location, I photographed these mountains today.  I think it is in the vicinity of Telluride, Colorado, but I can't be sure.  It is just a rugged, stunning landscape, especially to an Easterner.  Please click on this image to see more details in the photograph.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Star Wars!

We saw Star Wars today!  We had a theater party and nine of us went to the theater to see it.  Here, almost all the theaters accept reservations, so we knew that we could get in.  I haven's seen a Star Wars episode since the very first one back in 1977.  It was a great movie, but one that we would not have bothered to see, if it were not for the girls wanting us to go.  So at least now, we are temporarily very hip and up to date with our cultural literacy.  The last photo is everyone discussing the movie right after the movie was over.

Christmas Caroling

We went out for a walk, and to walk the dog.  We ended up on Abbot Kinney which is the fancy main street in Venice.  Right after the walk started out, Liz and Sarah and Amy began singing Christmas carols, in three-part harmony as they walked along!  What was really neat was that a few people in their yards would call out words of encouragement.  When we got to Abbot Kinney, they decided to stop and sing a couple of carols while standing in place on the sidewalk.  What was interesting was the reaction of the passersby.  Everyone kind of pretended that there was no singing going on and walked by with their eyes averted.  But Liz and Sarah and Amy were having such a good time that they didn't let it bother them.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, from all of us, from California, from Liz' house, and from Santa Monica Place, a shopping mall that we visit each year at Christmas time.  We all hope you have a wonderful Christmas day, and get to enjoy the company of friends and family.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

I Don't Know, It's Venice...

We all went for a walk today, from Liz' house over to Abbott Kinney, where all the shops are.  Then we returned by a different route, which included coming down this back street.  First we passed this building with eyes and a piece of plywood on the wall.  There was also a cross.  The eyes grabbed my attention, and it was interesting to me because it didn't appear to be finished.  Several blocks later, on the same street, I saw this completed face.  I was struck by the similarity.  When I examined the full size photographs, I could see that the artist's signature was the same.  So that solves one mystery.  The other mystery is why.  That answer just might be "Because it is Venice."

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday, northbound to Arroyo Grande, we drove up through the mountains on Rt.154 through San Marcos pass, through mist and rain and low clouds.  Today, on the trip back, we stayed on the 101 which ran along the coast for a while.  The clouds were higher today, and the visibility over the ocean was much better.  The tiny shape in the distance, in the center of the photograph is one of the many oil platforms in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Santa Barbara.  They appear, on days like this, ghostly, indistinct shapes in the far distance.  The first offshore drilling began in 1896, and the first platforms were established in 1953.  Because of a terrible spill that soiled the Santa Barbara beaches in 1969, there has been a moratorium on drilling in any new leases since then.

Monday, December 21, 2015

California Live Oak

We took a three hour drive today, north from Venice up to Arroyo Grande, California, to visit Barb, our friend and the wife of my friend Jim, who just passed away.  It was a beautiful drive up through a lovely part of California and along the coast for a while.  A while after we got through the San Marcos Pass, we began to see California Live Oaks.  These are stunning trees, with gnarly branches, and whenever I see them I want to stop and photograph them.  I only stopped once today to photograph, but I wanted to stop about a dozen times because there were so many beautiful scenes.  But we had promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Walk to Venice Beach

We have been eating way too many cookies from the party last night, so we decided to walk to Venice Beach this afternoon.  There are always photographs here, no matter where you look.  So I started with the landscape photo with the iconic palm trees.  But then as we walked up and down the boardwalk, I saw this musician playing a cello, of all instruments.  I mean, usually all you hear is guys playing electric guitars badly.  But he has a "looping" device and an electronic pickup on his cello, and so the music can be layered, by playing back something he recorded, while he is playing another track on top of it. I spent quite a while listening to his wonderful playing.   His name is Martin Watkinson and you can fund his website at < >

The "Christmas Tree-O"

Liz and Sarah had a Christmas gathering at their house and a whole bunch of their friends came for food and friendship and songs.  It was so much fun for us to see, because Liz and Amy and Sarah are part of this wonderful, supportive group of "West Side" friends.  Here Sarah, Amy and Liz are singing in three-part harmony which was stunning.  Other friends sang in other groups, and some of the songs were really funny, and some were beautiful.  What an amazing evening!  Oh, and don't you love the name of their group?  "The Christmas Tree-O"

Friday, December 18, 2015

New York to Los Angeles

Westbound once again, on Jet Blue, from the Big Apple to the Golden State.  It was cloudy until half way across the country, but fortunately, just before Colorado, the clouds dissipated and I could see the ground perfectly.  Not only that, it was about 3:30 PM local time, so the sun was low in the western sky and there were long shadows everywhere.  I had the most astounding view of the desert that I have ever had.  The late sun illuminated the brightly colored geologic layers of the landscape.  I have never seen such brilliant colors of this landscape before.  I saw this scene come into view, and I started photographing, and then thought "I think that this may be Monument Valley!"  I had to wait until we arrived in Venice to check Google Earth, and sure enough this is the place!  I have seen it a number of times from the ground, but never from the air. An astounding day over one of my favorite landscapes!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Bike Shop

About eight years ago I found this small bike shop about five miles away from where I live.  This is Bob and Laura, the proprietors, and they are warm and friendly and very knowledgeable.  It has always been fun to go in and visit when I need some new clothing, or some parts to repair my bike.  The other day I realized that the bottom bracket bearings on my bike were failing, so I went to the shop to buy replacements.  I was shocked to see signs that the store was closing!  Bob said they have been doing this for a long time, and the store ties them down.  It is really hard for them to take a vacation.  They will close at the end of the year, but he did say that he will have a small repair shop in his garage at home, and he invited me to visit.  You know I will be going there!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Perfect Light

We were walking across the street after getting a tour of the victorian house refurb, and suddenly the setting sun broke through the overcast clouds and illuminated some of the trees.  I could not believe the color of the light! And what made everything even more dramatic was that the sky behind the trees was covered with the overcast clouds.  That deep gray color only accents the brilliant orange color of the trees.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Now that the back room is just about done, we have decided to redo our living room.  This is what it looks like right now!  Just kidding!  We brought some Christmas cookies to the carpenters who did our new room - we know where their new project is, so we went over to say hello this afternoon.  This is their new project - completely rehabing a wonderful Victorian that needs a lot of help.  Why is it that I love scenes like this, of decay?  The minute I saw this living room, my heart started racing and I was off taking pictures.  This room has some wonderful architectural details, and it will be stunning when it is done.  Of course we will never get to see it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

"I Don't Have the Bandwidth for Casual Conversation."

I was driving to get bagels this morning, with great expectations, because it was foggy.  I hoped for a photograph along the way and was not disappointed.  But it wasn't easy.  I took a few frames, and then realized I needed more than the trees in the photo.  I happened to notice a much older woman walking along the sidewalk behind me.  I thought I would wait for her to walk into the picture.  But she was walking so slow!  Just about the time she would have stepped into the frame she stopped and said something to me that I couldn't hear, so I just said "It's beautiful!"  Then she said "What kind of camera is that?"  Oh man, I didn't want a conversation!  I wanted her to walk into my picture!  So I backed away and she finally moved on.  And I got my shot.  The quote in the title of this is from one of my favorite TV shows, "Justified" and it was spoken by the great character Boyd Crowder, and it made me laugh, so I have included it here.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas in the New Room

Little by little, we are getting there.  I hung a photograph over the fireplace, and Kathy has put greens on the mantlepiece, along with some small LED lights and little round red things that look like berries and ornaments.  It really lends a Christmas atmosphere to the house.  Well, if we include the bush in front with colored lights!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

This is Starting to Look Like "Plant Week."

OK, so this seems crazy.  It is December 12, and the temperature was 66 degrees today!  Great for cycling, but I think it is weirding out the plants.  I am not sure what plants these are - maybe they are Daffodils.  But to have them emerging from the ground now seems out of whack.  Perhaps there are plant people out there who know that this will not be fatal to the plants, given that it should be getting much colder, and there is a good chance of snow.  What will happen to these plants once it gets below freezing?  I can't wait to see.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Wind in the Willows

Today I went to the plumbing store again for the last two items we need for the new bathroom.  While driving down a street that I travel on all the time, I noticed what I think is a willow tree, with wonderful long branches hanging straight down, that had turned brilliant yellow.  I am not sure when the color changed, or whether it was because the sun was on the tree, but it was a stunning, brilliant yellow and I had to stop and try and capture the scene.  Unfortunately there were a lot of street signs in the background and a couple of cars parked on the street.  So I needed to come in closer on the tree, and hope you would still get the sense of the long strings of leaves.  Please click on the image so you can see more detail in the leaves.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The New Back Door, for Christmas

We love how pretty our new back door is, and so we decided to decorate it for Christmas, just like we decorate the front door.  How pretty is this!  What you shouldn't notice is the pink Fiberglass insulation stuffed into the hole where the deadbolt is supposed to go!  And this is just a temporary doorknob.  We still have to select the real hardware.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Spaceship Has Landed

The spaceship has landed. On our front lawn.  OK, so you know that it's not a spaceship.  It is our evergreen bush, wrapped with white LED lights as Christmas decorations.  This is the first year we have used LEDs and we were surprised at how bright the LEDs are.  They lit up the neighborhood!  So we went out and got some small colored lights - they are much less bright, and we will relight the tree and see if it looks better.   Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Fly the American Flag Proudly

Found this car in the parking lot at Home Depot this evening.  I mean, it was hard to miss!  Certainly a wild paint job!  And done with a brush, of course - I checked.  This would be way too tedious to do with a spray gun, the traditional way of painting a car.  The thought that occurs to me is that if you were driving this car around, you would want to stop fully at every stop sign, and you would not want to exceed the speed limit even slightly.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Production Line

Until we started going to California for Christmas about 5 years ago, I was kind of lackadaisical about getting Christmas cards out on time.  Sometimes they didn't arrive until after Christmas!  But now that we leave early for the holiday, I get panic stricken right before Thanksgiving, knowing I only have three weeks to get the cards done.  And I do a bunch - slightly more than one hundred.  It is a fairly labor intensive process, printing them one by one, first on the front, then on the back, in my color printer.  Then they each need to be trimmed twice with a paper cutter.  Then the envelopes need to be printed, and the cards inserted.  I do worry that with any kind of glitch, they won't get done before we leave for California.  Whew!  Got them mailed in time one more year!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Google Cardboard

I am a digital subscriber to the New York Times.  They announced an app for the iPhone called NYTVR.  The "VR" stands for "Virtual Reality."  You download the video from the NYTimes website on your iPhone, and then put the iPhone into this amazing assemblage of cardboard called, strangely enough, "Google Cardboard."  The device has two lenses that you look through at your phone.  You start up the video, and then while looking into the device, you can rotate your head through 360 degrees, in addition to looking up and down, and it is as if you are at the original scene.  It is an astounding thing to see! I received an email from the NY Times saying that if I went to a special website and gave them my information, they would send me Google Cardboard for free!  Be the first on your block!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Life Cycle

I have been photographing these Hostas since they began to grow in the spring.  They become so many dramatically different things during their cycle.  I passed these by the side of the driveway for a few days, and then when they were all wet from the rain, their color was more saturated, and they finally grabbed me.  I am not sure that this is a complete photograph - it may only be a fragment, but I thought the colors were so striking that they demanded to be photographed.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Yard Sale

This is a picture that I forgot about.  I took it back in July, and just found it when I was cleaning out folders of images.  There is a marine salvage yard down near where the power plant was located.  They have a giant floating crane on a barge, and all kinds of other stuff.  They decided to have a yard sale and so I had to come see if there were pictures here.  Guess what?  I found one!  I have no idea if this sold, but I love the incongruity of a bathtub sitting on the side of the road!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Crepuscular Rays

I was on my way to the plumbing store, and noticed in the distance, the rays of the sun coming through breaks in the clouds.  I realized that if I ignored the plumbing store and took a left to the end of the road, I would end up at the harbor.  I had hopes that the rays would still be showing when I got to the water.  There are still some showing, although they are down near the horizon.  In any case the clouds and sky are pretty spectacular.  "Crepuscular rays" are the actual name for the heaven-like shafts of sunlight.  They happen because particles in the air scatter short wavelengths of light. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Give Me A Break!

Where do I begin?  This is a really busy parking lot because it is small, and there is both a grocery store, and a fitness center in the same building.  At 5 O'Clock in the afternoon it is nearly impossible to park here.  I took this photo at 4:45 PM, and there was a car to the right of this one when I went into the store.  I just cannot imagine someone who feels that this is appropriate behavior.  That people like this have the right to more than their share.  My fantasy is not to damage this car in any way, but I would love to have access to a really rusty, old beat up pickup truck.  I would park it within 6 inches of this car, on the driver's side.  Just imagining that makes me smile!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Leaf Week

I should call this "Leaf Week" after shooting the Japanese maple with bright red leaves yesterday, and then these leaves in the driveway today.  I thought I had missed my chance to do my leaves in the driveway photo this year.  I have been watching the leaves in the driveway now for a couple of weeks, but I didn't see a photograph.  But today, after hours of rain, suddenly all the leaves were flattened, and the color is more saturated because the leaves are all wet.  So I have done this photograph before, but I never tire of the delicacy of these tiny beauties.