Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Power of Art

I bought a book by the photographer Robert Adams when I was in Santa Monica.  It is called "Art Can Help."  These two statements are from the introduction: "It is the responsibility of artists to pay attention to the world, pleasant or otherwise, and to help us live respectfully in it."  And this:  "More than anything else, beauty is what distinguishes art.  Beauty is never less than a mystery, but it has within it a promise."  I immediately identified with all of that.  I recognize that beauty is what matters to me and what I try to find in my photographs.  So this is a pallet of succulents for sale on Abbot Kinney at a place called "Grow" and I thought the collection was just beautiful arranged like this.
Happy New Year to everyone!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

All Gone...

This is Abbot's Habit, or rather it was Abbot's Habit.  It closed about six months ago, sad to say.  When Liz moved to Venice, she said "There is this really cool, funky coffee shop, you have to see it!"  Well, we first went to Venice is 2007, and after one visit we were hooked!  This is one of the all-time great coffee shops in the country!  It has been here for 24 years.  All kinds of people come here, young and old, artists and writers working on movie scripts, and others just on computers, hanging out. It's great not only for coffee, but for people watching as well.  I did photographs here a number of times.  So disappointing that it no longer exists.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas Bank Robber?

This is Beth, who was one of the many amazing guests at "The Salon."  I don't remember what was going on, but I looked up and Beth was clowning around.  She had pulled down her regular Santa's cap to completely cover her face, and then for some reason had held up these glasses on a stick.  She started to take the glasses down and I said "Hold it!" and explained that I needed to take her picture, which I did.  And best of all, you get to see this!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

California Fires

I remember seeing video of the California fires while reading the Los Angeles Times online several weeks ago.  I was stunned to see fires right by the exit on the 405 that I use every time I visit the Getty Center.  So I was curious when I visited there earlier this week, to see how much evidence of the fires I would see.  This is the view from the Getty across the 405, and you can see all the burned hills.  It appears that firefighters saved all the houses which you can see are still surrounded by green.  Then a man came over to where I was viewing with his daughter, and said "There's our house right there!"  I went over and spoke to him - his house is on the ridge in the upper center of the picture.  He said that he was so thankful that his house was spared.  Two houses next to his burned to the ground!  Please click on this image to see it in greater detail.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

LAX Departure

On the way home!  It was wonderful, of course, to be in Los Angeles for a week, and to spend time with Liz and Amy and Sarah and Gus, and with so many of their wonderful friends.  There was so much musical harmonizing that went on that we were constantly smiling.  The JetBlue terminal at Los Angeles International airport has moved from the north side terminal to the south side, and the view is so much better.  I was idly looking at all the aircraft tails when suddenly this Boeing 777 came out of the left side of the frame, climbing into the sky.  LAX is the fourth busiest airport in the country, so there were plenty of other aircraft takeoffs to watch after this one!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

L.A. Landscape

I went over to Whole Foods this morning to get some goodies for breakfast. When leaving I walked by this scene at the building next door.  What?  What interesting plumbing - I have never seen this kind of plumbing before.  Then I remembered that there used to be a laundromat here!  When I got back to Liz' and Sarah's I mentioned this, and was told that Whole Foods apparently bought the building, and I am guessing it is so that they can expand.

Monday, December 25, 2017


Everyone in our two families just loves all kinds of board games or parlor games.  We started tonight by playing "Catchphrase" which uses an electronic device to dispense phrases which each team has to guess.  Then we switched to "Telestrations" which is like the old game of "Telephone."  In this modern version, we each get a little booklet, and the name of something to draw.  Then the first person draws the object and passes the booklet to the right.  Then that person guesses what the object is and writes the name down.  Then they pass to the right and the next player draws based on the  name of the object.  Many times by the end of the round, the original object and the final guess are not even remotely similar to each other!  We have lots of laughs.  So my object was a "Trapeeze" - I thought I did a good job, but at the end of the game, people were hysterical at my original drawing.  They even wanted to photograph my drawing.  You can see them laughing as they photograph.  I will let you judge for yourself - here is my original drawing below.  Don't laugh!   :-)

Merry Christmas from Venice!

Merry Christmas to all from Venice, California! This is the house that Amy & Gus live in, and which they decorated for Christmas.  We are thinking of you all, all around the country and away from us at the moment.  Hope everyone has as wonderful a Christmas as we are having here with all of our family gathered together.  Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Rocket Launch!

We are in Venice, visiting Liz and Amy.  Kathy was outside getting something from the car and she started hollering "Quick come out here, quick!" I had no idea what was going on but was worried because of the tone of her voice. When I stepped outside and looked at the sky,  I was stunned at strange clouds and two bright lights moving away.  Some neighbors were also in the street wondering “What is that?”  Then I recognized that I was looking at the exhaust of two rockets which had just been launched, probably from  Vandenburg Air Force Base, which is 150 miles north of Venice.  It was just stunning!   I didn't  have my small SONY camera with me, and completely forgot that my iPhone was in my pocket. Duh! So only got a photograph of the remaining exhaust cloud as it curled around in the upper atmosphere winds! What an experience!  Here is a link to a cellphone video tht someone else in Los Angeles did, so you can see what the whole launch looked like:  Falcon 9 Launch

The Holiday Salon

We attended the Holiday Salon that Liz and Sarah and Amy have put on for three years now.  They have a wonderful community of friends, many who are talented singers (as well as the three of them.)  I think about 30 people in all attended, including children and babies, and both children and adults sang and played instruments.  You will love this - they call their singing group "The Christmas Tree-O" and their harmonies, a capella, are just beautiful!  It was such a great experience to meet and talk with so many of their friends, and to be there for the music as well.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Randy's Donuts

Liz and Amy took us to another Los Angeles icon today - Randy's Donuts in Inglewood.  Built in 1953,  Randy’s Donuts is world famous and consistently named one of the top donut shops in the country.  It is one of the most iconic locations in Los Angeles, and people come from around the world to take pictures of the giant rooftop donut.  This landmark building has also appeared in nearly a dozen movies, and music videos.  I had not heard of the place but it is amazing!  About five years ago they brought us to "Pink's" hot dog stand, so now we have visited two iconic food establishments!  Oh, and the donuts are awesome, as well - see below.  As you can see below, we consumed quite a number of calories!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Fire Trucks at the Grocery Store

We went to the grocery store this morning, and I was surprised to see two fire trucks parked in front.  I assumed they were doing an inspection of the store, just as a routine thing.  As I walked by the first truck and looked back I saw this wreath on the front end of the truck and thought that it was nice that the firemen added this holiday decoration.  I got out my camera and then as I looked at the front of the truck, realized that there was a driver inside.  So I took the photograph, and then went up to the driver to tell him I appreciated their decoration on the truck.  We had a nice conversation about the California wildfires and other things relating to fires.  Then I though I would be funny and so I said to him: "Because there are two fire trucks parked in front of Ralphs, should I be worried about going inside?"  The driver laughed, and then said: "We're here for the same reason you are - we are buying groceries for the firehouse!"  They have 12 firemen who live at the firehouse, and they take turns cooking for the whole group!  So that was fun to learn, and it was a nice conversation besides.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Out West

Our Christmas ritual - JFK to Los Angeles.  A good day for a flight like this is when the skies are clear.  I have flown this route so many times when the landscape was covered with clouds.  It was cloudy in the eastern half of the United States today, but by the time we got to the western states, the sky was completely clear.  I stayed glued to the window the whole time, and I was not disappointed!  This photograph of eroded mesas was done over Colorado, south of Pueblo.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Go Fly A Kite

I took these photographs a while back in September when we stopped to visit Liz and Amy.  Liz bought this parasailing kite, and was just learning how to fly it.  It is an amazing toy.  It is all fabric, but it is sewn so that it forms an airfoil when it is launched into the wind.  You control it with two lines - one operated by each hand.  This thing is a blast to fly!  You can make it dive from up high, directly down toward the beach, and then at the last minute pull on one line, and the kite does a 180 degree turn, and leaps back up into the sky!  Maybe I need one of these!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Peace Cranes

My friend Stan came out to the house for dinner, before we went off to our astronomy meeting where he gave a talk.   He brought a couple of gifts - a bottle of wine for dinner, and this holiday decoration which he and his wife Ann found in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The decoration is three beautiful small peace cranes strung together.  This is now hanging in the doorway between the living room and the dining room where it brightens our day, all day long.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Thyme in the Snow

We got another two inches of snow yesterday and last night, on top of two inches the day before.  I went out with my closeup lens to see if I could find a photograph that involved both plants and snow.  Right next to the driveway there is a small herb garden.  At this time of year, there are only the remains of three plants in the garden - this Thyme, Rosemary, and the Lavender I photographed a couple of weeks ago.  There is a subtlety to the color in the garden at this time of year, which I love.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Elektra's Birthday Present

This is Elektra, who is 11 years old, and the youngest member of our astronomy club.  She is so smart that it's not even funny!  She and her mom love astronomy and are learning a lot quickly.    Elektra has already said she wants to do a talk at the club, and is working on putting together a slideshow.  When I was 11 years old, there is not a chance that I would stand up in front of a room and give a talk!  Anyhow, her birthday was last week, so as a surprise I decided to make a print of a photograph that I took of the Sun, with the planet Venus seen crossing the Sun's disk.  She was thrilled by the surprise, can you tell?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ho, Ho, Ho

Ho, Ho, Ho...  I may need to reconsider our lack of Christmas decorations on our house.  Of course we never had blow-up santas and snowmen.  We used to put a single electric candle in each window which was really pretty.  But I loved seeing this santa just down the street - it made me smile.  And it was the right time of day to photograph this, because the sky was still illuminated enough to be deep blue in color, which adds so much to the photo.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Walk at Twilight

I went for a walk after sunset the other day.  I have taken this walk so many times, from my house down to the water, then along the harbor all the way to where the old power plant used to be.  But I don't remember doing this after dusk.  So many common things things were different, in this light.  I like this shot of the back of a restaurant down at the beach, now closed for winter.  It is a different kind of landscape that I can't describe, but that you can see.  

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What the heck is THIS?

Please click on this photograph first to see if you can figure out what it is.  Then read on.  It is a photo I did with my drone, from 200 feet, of the side yard, and part of the neighbor's side yard as well.  If you haven't seen me yet, I am the small spot in the bottom center of the photo.  The square closer to the center of the photo is a piece of cardboard I put on the snow as the takeoff and landing spot for my drone.  I love how abstract this image is, until you notice my car at the bottom and a bit of the garage roof, also at the bottom.  The world is such an amazing place when seen from the air.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mai Tais Anyone?

When we were in Honolulu, the ladies liked the idea of having drinks on Waikiki Beach in the afternoon, at Dukes, and at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.   They would order Mai Tais.  I don't do mixed drinks at all, ever.  But I thought I would try a sip of a Mai Tai.  Wow!  So when we got home, I had to do some research and find out how to make these.  The ingredients are not always agreed upon, but here is what I used: white rum, lime juice, orange curacao, orgeat syrup and dark rum.  The orgeat syrup was impossible to find.  I saw references to the fact that is is hard to get "on the mainland."  I managed to buy it online.  So here is my first Mai Tai.  The glass is too large, and I haven't used enough ice, but you can see how the dark rum was "floated" on the other ingredients.  There is another recipe I will make next that replaces lime juice with pineapple juice and orange juice.  I will let you know how that turns out. And, hey, I TOLD you that today's post would be different!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

OK, OK, I'll Stop With This Tree...

The snow yesterday was sticky, so everything looked like it was covered with frosting.  So "the tree" was the first place I went, of course.  Never to be disappointed, I found this photograph.  I promise that I won't take any more photographs of the tree.  At least not until next year...   :-)  Anyhow, I promise I will post something completely different tomorrow.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

From Color to Black & White

It was not that many days ago that this tree was a brilliant orange in color.  And now, with today's snow, it appears to be photographed in black & white.  But this is a color photo, believe it or not.  If you click on it to enlarge it, you will see hints of brown just above the bottom branch.  Such are the joys of watching the weather, and the changes in nature.  I love measuring the passage of time, by the changes in seasons here in the northeast.

Friday, December 8, 2017

"Jenga Tower"

When we were in the city, leaving the Hunger Memorial,  I looked up the street and saw this building which I couldn't quite believe.   I took this photograph, and then needed to research what the building was, because we didn't walk up to where it was.  Turns out this is an amazing work of architecture.  It  is called 56 Leonard Street and was designed by the Swiss architectural firm of  Herzog & de Meuron.  The 60 story building is 821 feet tall, and has 145 residences.
 The amenities, spanning over the 9th and 10th floors, include a 75-foot long lap pool with a hot tub and sundeck overlooking the Hudson, a fitness studio, lounge, screening room, and a private dining room.  Near the top you can see terraces with projecting balconies. This extraordinary tower appears to begin to disintegrate as it rises, fading from a solid extrusion to an ethereal crown, solid melting into air.  If you want to buy a penthouse you should know that one of them went for $48,500,000!  It has gotten the nickname "Jenga Tower" because of the game of that name. Players take turns removing one block at a time from a tower constructed of 54 blocks. Each block removed is then placed on top of the tower, creating a progressively taller and unstable structure. Yeah, this building looks just like that!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Black and White on White

Grace loves sitting on the back of this chair in the back room.  Sometimes she puts her front paws on the windowsill so she can look out the window.  The rest of the time she sits like this.  I just think this is amazing and lovely and fun to see.  Today because it was morning, the light was pouring in through the back window, lighting up everything.  So in the middle of all this white, sits Grace.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Lavender in Fall

Although I love the brilliant colors of fall, I also an enamored of the subtleties of color we see as plants fade.  This is Lavender and it has turned silver as the weather has gotten colder.  I love that this is so subtle, that it appears to be a black and white image.  There are hints of green here and there in the picture, however.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

One Last View

You will have to be patient with my obsession with this wonderful tree.  This is one last look before winter arrives and all the color disappears until spring.  I know, I know, I have done this same photograph probably every Fall.  I cannot walk by it when it is this gorgeous, without taking a photograph.  I just can't help myself.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Impressionism in the Side Yard

I wanted to go exploring for photographs in a different way today.  I have this contraption called a "Lens Baby" and it is essentially a magnifying glass that connects to my Nikon and allows the single lens to focus.  Since it is only a magnifying glass, as opposed to regular camera lens, the image is out of focus all around the edges of the image.  This effect can be considered impressionistic and artful, or it can be considered a cheap trick.  I think it is the former.  But you get to decide.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Illuminated Trees

We stopped at a small shopping center in the next town over last night so Kathy could get just a few ingredients for Christmas cookies.   I decided to stay in the car and eat my ice cream cone...   :-)  While sitting there I noticed these trees through my windshield and so I got the camera out of the trunk and as I was getting back in the car, I noticed the tree lights reflected in the roof of the car!  This was a better shot than through the windshield.  Moral of the story?  Keep your eyes open - you never know which shot will be the best.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Grasses in Sunlight

These are some decorative grasses (a prize to anyone who knows their name...) that grow up the street.  I have photographed them before, but from a distance.  I spent some time with my camera this time looking for different ways of seeing them - overall shots, medium shots, and closeups.  I settled on this one because it has a certain elegance to it, as well as being beautiful.  If you click on it, it gets better!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Irish Hunger Memorial

When Vince and Jo Anne were here, she mentioned wanting to see something called "The Irish Hunger Memorial" in Manhattan.  It opened in 2002.  I had not heard of it, but into the city we went.  It is an amazing memorial!  She had mentioned that someone in Ireland had donated an abandoned two room stone cottage which was taken apart, and then moved, stone by stone, to this half-acre site.  It is such a beautiful work of art.   What it stunning is the landscape around the building feels just like Ireland! 

This is the entrance way to the memorial.  Each of these illuminated bands contains text of quotes about the history of the famine in Ireland from 1842 to 1852.  There are also quotations that relate to hunger in the world at the present time.

The memorial was created by artist Brian Tolle and is designed to raise public awareness of the events that led to the famine, and to encourage efforts to address current and future hunger worldwide.  One and a half million Irish were lost through famine related death, mass starvation, disease, and emigration from Ireland between 1845 and 1852.  In addition, political action and inaction exacerbated a desperate situation.

This is a view of one of the stones brought from Ireland - there is a stone from each county in Ireland on display.  Behind the stone is an undulating area of the landscape that I am guessing resembles  "hills" that potatoes would be planted in.

This is a second room of the cottage, and below, this is what the entrance looks like at the ground level.  As you enter, you slowly walk up hill until you are up on top of this structure.  If you want to know more about the memorial, and to be able to read all the quotes, there is a free app for your phone .  Search for "Irish Hunger Memorial."  The quotations are very powerful!  

Thursday, November 30, 2017

On A Cliff by the Sea

I haven't flown my drone in some time so I took it up yesterday and today.  When you are a beginner, the altitude of the drone is limited to 100 feet.  I figured I could take it out of beginner mode, and when I flew up to 200 feet, in my side yard, I was surprised how much of the harbor I could see.  Also, with so many of the trees missing their leaves, I could see more of the homes in Sea Cliff.  It's time I did more flying around here.  Please click on this to see a lot more detail.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


We went to the city to see two specific things.  The Irish Hunger Memorial - more on that in a later post - and this work of art.  It is called "Whiteout," located in Madison Square Park.  This is a public art project by artist Erwin Redl and is comprised of hundreds of transparent white spheres, each embedded with a white LED light and suspended from a square grid of steel poles and cabling. The white LEDs are animated in large-scale patterns superimposing a virtual movement that looks like waves of light coming and going.  It is fascinating to watch.  One of the things I love about public projects is that people looking at them never fail to turn to a perfect stranger, and comment on how cool an experience it is to be seeing it!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


The Oculus is an astounding piece of architecture!  It is the new transit hub at the rebuilt World Trade Center site in downtown Manhattan. Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, the “Oculus” is a train station, plaza and shopping mall adjacent to the memorial site for the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.  In the background is the new Freedom Tower.  The Oculus is astounding both inside and out.  The architect has said he designed the Oculus to resemble a winged dove.  This is the first time I was able to photograph the building without construction fences in front of it.  But I don't have the best photograph yet.  I need to photograph it when the sun is on it, and it will be a brilliant white inmcolor.  I will get back there when things are just right.  Stay tuned.

Monday, November 27, 2017

In Memoriam

While walking around the Memorial Pools at the World Trade Center Memorial I spotted these roses placed into the cutout of the name of one of the victims.  It was so moving to see not only the roses and an American flag, but a laminated photograph of her.  She is Betty Ann Ong, an American flight attendant who was aboard American Airlines Flight 11 when it was hijacked and flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  Such a powerful thing to come face to face with.

Sunday, November 26, 2017


While wandering around the World Trade Center Memorial site, I was looking at people visiting, hoping to find a photograph.  I saw this group of young women who were so cute and having so much fun trying to do a group selfie.  I couldn't resist!

Saturday, November 25, 2017


Well, I think I finally got a REAL photograph!  We took a trip to Manhattan today to see some things, and I will be showing you some really interesting things with future posts on the blog.  We did go through the 9/11 Memorial pools and by One World Trade Center.  Every time I see this monumental tower I take the time to do photographs of it.  Today was no exception.  I did see it in a new way, however  I had not noticed that from some points the entire side of the building appears to end in a point.  This reminded me of  the Great Pyramid of Cheops.  What makes this so interesting is that the building is seen against a sky of broken clouds AND the mirrored front of the wall is reflecting similar clouds.  The whole thing blends together in such a way that you are not sure at first what you are looking at.

Friday, November 24, 2017

This Never Gets Old

This is, of course, the famous Japanese maple tree.  What is always surprising is that the leaves on this tree were still green until about 4 days ago.  I am always amazed at how quickly they go from green to orange and yellow.  I never get tired of going out to explore the tree after the colors have changed.  I try to find a view that I haven't photographed before, and I think that this fills the bill.  The yellow leaves are closest to me, but in the background are orange leaves on higher branches.  I love the contrast in colors.