Los Angeles Welcomes You To the Santee Alley and So Do I!

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The Santee Alley experience involves you, surrounds you, and after your jaw dropping introduction, it pulls you into its allure.  You can say the above-mentioned allure about many places around the world, but this one is within driving distance, so it is special to me.

If you want to see and know what Los Angeles is about culturally, spend a morning or afternoon in the Santee Alley.

You will see and enjoy everyone and everything, just about.

For your information, Santee Alley is located between Santee Street, Maple Avenue, Olympic Boulevard and 12th Street in downtown Los Angeles. The Alley and surrounding streets become a major Bazaar. There are Bazaars around the world and this one measures up for me. When you step into the Alley, you step into another realm, another dimension.

The clothing runs the gamut from casual wear to business clothing. There are many other items besides clothing offered in the Alley. Feel free to bargain. Make sure to have some cash on hand because some of the vendors are not able to take credit cards. The quality of goods may or may not be in question according to your standards, but the atmosphere and the colorful surroundings are over the top and beyond the bell!

You will begin to melt into the sights and sounds. Your day in The Santee Alley will remain with you long after you have departed.

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Stay tuned in for the men’s section!

Seattle: The Wow Factor Day 2 and 3

We  listened to the Mating calls of the Herring Gulls

We listened to the Mating calls of the Herring Gulls

We made it to Pier 52 in time to take the 11:25 ferry over to Bainbridge Island. I worried all night. A lovely talented, brilliant and beautiful sorority sister Renee and her wonderful husband Harry live on Bainbridge Island year round. Equally talented, brilliant and beautiful sorority sisters Penny and Phyllis were visiting them. Skip and I were invited for lunch. What a thrill for all of us to get together again. We re-connected instantly. Skip and Harry talked about boy stuff, and we just poured our hearts out to each other about our lives and the passing of years. I loved these girls then and even more now. I have no photos to share: I gave the camera up for someone to take the photo of the four of us and somehow the dial switched and I got videos for the rest of the day. You need no photos to know to know the sharing with old friends and how it brings tears to my eyes just remembering their words of encouragement and the love in our eyes. Thank you dear ladies, and may your lives continue to be noteworthy.

I go often to the cemetery to visit my parents and when I do I thank my mother and father for so many things. Each time, I remember to thank my mother for driving to the Miracle Mile from Huntington Park every few weeks to get my teeth straightened and I thank her for making certain I rushed for a sorority. She made certain I had an outfit for each occasion. I thank my father for saying, “If you want an answer now, it is NO, but if you let me think about it, who knows.

Let me share these remedies learned in Seattle. You may benefit from the information:

For Arthritis:

Wine:  Fill a glass jar with cut onions. Cover onions with red wine. Cover jar with napkin or paper towel to let it breath for three days. Discard the onions and keep wine in fridge. Drink one shot glassful of onion-wine each morning and night on an empty stomach.

Gin: Soak yellow raisins in gin (use glass container) for 10 days. Cover with napkin or paper towel or cloth. Stir mixture every 2-3 days to make sure raisins are completely soaked. Pour out gin and keep raisins in fridge. EAT 9 raisins on an empty stomach once a day.

Day #2

Off we went to the Museum of Flight:

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As you enter, you pay your tariff, then, you meet up with a greeter and you are told it will take three days to see all of the air and space history in this museum. So you know you better get a move on.

What a fantastic array of galleries, films, planes of all eras, exhibits, flight simulators, audio guides, museum stores and finally you drop into the Wings Café. What an experience to see so many artifacts, hear so many stories, and feel so much history.

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We think we cannot move another muscle, but after refreshments we are riding out to Snoqualmie Falls, which is a huge waterfall on the Snoqualmie River.  We are four of the 1.5 million visitors to the falls each year. Glad to be among the people who visit here. If you have extra time there is the Salish Lodge and Spa looking over the falls.

Jin and Don are a beautiful couple we met on a trip to Russia many years ago. We have stayed connected. They live in Tacoma. Everyday they came to visit with us and take us to sights I have and will mention. We enjoyed the time together and the lively loving companionship.

Thank you Jin and Don!!

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SEATTLE: THE WOW FACTOR Day #1

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When you realize you are going to the home of the first Starbucks you know you are in for a treat. You have read that the first Starbucks resides at the Pikes Place Market, the “soul of Seattle”. We got settled in our digs at the waterfront and headed off to Pikes Market, right? Doesn’t everyone do that first? It seemed that everyone in Seattle was at the market because there was shoulder-to-shoulder traffic in every spot in and around the market. It was electric, inspiring and the soul of Seattle refers to the taste of the market. Everything is the top of the top in quality and taste.

Shoulder-to shoulder traffic

Shoulder-to shoulder traffic

My new favorite potatoes are the Rainbow potatoes. You can have fun with a bag of those.

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Rainier Cherries: The cherries in Seattle were the most delicious I have ever tasted and plentiful. A handful a day keeps you quite regular.

And Not your mother’s beans.

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How about some Elephant Garlic?

How about some Elephant Garlic?

Everyone knows they throw fish across the market stalls in the Pikes Market to get your attention and they do. There is no photo because of the massive crowds surrounding the event. Following are a couple of delicious looking possibilities in the fish market.

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Where Starbucks was born:

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We did not have the desire to go into this Starbucks because of the crowds, but seeing Starbucks birthplace reminded me of my recent experience in a crowded city center establishment; the ultimate tourist experience. I must admit I am not a youngster. I do not have the Starbucks thing down. I know you go to the counter, order, and give them your name, an alias. Never give your real name, so I said my name is Alias.  Starbucks ethics. You don’t want them to yell out your real name and have someone follow you, yelling your name causing you a stir.

I did not see the line, old, nearsighted, unfamiliar with protocol, whatever, I went in the front of the line that later I saw snaked out the door and into the street. I wondered why people raised their eyebrows, but did not understand until I sat down and got the proper perspective. Sitting in shame, I hear them call, “Alias.” Nothing registered, again, “Alias.”  Oh, that’s me. Sheepishly, in my most old lady persona, I approached the counter to retrieve our drinks.

Heck, it all tasted as good as if I would have waited properly in line and given my real name. But, deep inside I am sorry for my Starbucks behavior and you can be assured I will check out the line and place myself properly on all other visits.  I will continue to use my new Starbucks name, “Alias.”

CHIHULY MUSEUM AND GARDENS: http://www.chihulygardenandglass.com/?gclid=CJW03tiTirkCFeqDQgodew4ASA

We were privileged to enjoy the Chihuly Exhibition Hall, Glasshouse and Gardens before our revolving lunch at the top of the Space Needle at Sky City Restaurant with an unbelievable 360-degree view.

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Dale Chihuly is a native of Washington and can still be seen supervising the blowing of glass in his studio. His work is distinctive in the field of blown glass. He became world renown and in the interim he had a car accident, which he recovered from and was still able to blow his glass sculptures. Again, he was injured. This time it was in a bodysurfing accident involving his right shoulder leaving him unable to hold the glass blowing pipe. He hired helpers to do the work he outlined and said when he was able to step back from his work,  in the view. there appeared a new dimension

The first time we became familiar with Chihuly’s work was at the Bellagio and the MGM in Las Vegas. We walked into the lobby and saw everyone staring at the ceilings. We did the same.

The Chihuly Museum in Seattle is well worth the visit and includes a special delicious melting feeling, as if you are melting into everything that exists and that you hold meaningful. Now it is your job to pull the melt apart and examine what it means to you, personally.

I have included a few photos that look so yummy you feel like licking and biting.

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The Sky City Restaurant is at the top of the Space Needle and the views show Seattle’s intricacies, vitality, and spirit.

Normally you would pay a fee and be elevated to a perch high above Seattle, but for just a few extra dollars, you can sit in the revolving restaurant, scenes changing every few minutes and dine on gourmet food. We chose the few dollars more and here are some of the views:

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You really do not want to know about my 5 1/2 hour experience at the DMV, but I am going to tell you anyway.

Even though it is 107 degrees in the shade, even though the lines, nine of them are out of the door and spill into the nearly filled parking lot, even though I had an appointment, even though I began to sob and lean deeply into my cane and even though I dragged my ass from window to window for over 5 hours, there was no escape.  There was no escape from the lines with only one person helping the deluge of people, there was no escape from the many and varied languages spoken at high volumes all around you, there was no escape from the heat, there was no water and the lines to the bathrooms equaled the ones you are waiting in to have your picture taken. It was the kind of terror I experienced when I was nine months pregnant and I realized that I had to do this, it was my baby, I had to have it; and this time as well, there was no other way out if I wanted to participate as a driver in my state, in my country. I and I alone had to navigate this maze.

Without further ado, I did pass my test missing only one.  No I am no winner, I studied beyond the bell. I knew every question backwards and even the ones stated in their tricky manner, except the one where I may have made an error on being polite. Nope, you can’t even be polite, just legal.

I paid $31.00 for my license renewal, but would gladly pay $100 if it would gain enough revenue to open one more line for photos, one more line for information, one more line for appointments, one more line to get and take the driving written test, one more line to correct the test and another line to take the driving test. There are nine or ten booths to take your money, and your vision test, which takes minutes, but only one line for each of the other services.  Imagine the crowds descending from the open easy booths to the funneling; huddling crushes of one line for each of the other the services.

Several much younger and stronger folks just sat down or lay down in line.  I used a chair with a handicapped sign on the back and pulled it around for a while.  I am waiting in another type of line for a partial knee replacement.  If I had known the extreme physical challenge of the DMV experience, I would have come in a wheel chair and had someone wheel me through the process. It would not have cut down the time because no one will let you in line for handicapped, everyone in that building waiting in line was in pain and felt sorrowfully handicapped. Dragging the chair did help me through the ordeal.

When I had waited in all of the lines and all of my tasks were done, they put all of my collected information into a computer at the end of the last line.  Mine would not go through.  Everyone before me had theirs go through. I began to melt down. The gentleman was very apologetic, but nonetheless, I had to go back to window 1 and start over.  That is when I opened up the floodgates and melted down to jelly.   I was assisted through the second time at the head of the lines. I can’t wait to see my second photo after 5 and 1/2 hours in a sweatbox. Of course, by the time I got to my car at the end of the long, long parking lot, I was proud of my accomplishment at the DMV facility because I was still alive, barely. It takes several days to get over an experience like this at any age.

There is no one to listen, but I do believe that you might be interested to know that the written test is given in every language imaginable, and people walking out of the DMV that day passed their written driving exam, but will they be able to read merge, and end of divided highway?

Since I realized that all of my immediate America was in this building, huddled together for a common and individual cause, I looked around and drank deeply of ethnicity. They all acted very nice and accommodating to each other. People who didn’t even know each other, and some that did, helped each other and took turns standing in line for one another while the other rested in some chairs provided. When there were no chairs, they just slumped into the wall and ultimately the floor. I thought I was the only one suffering so greatly, but as I looked around at these faces, they were all commonly suffering for the same singular goal; the right to drive in California, in the United States of America. The young, the old, those in the middle of the road and all those in between had pain and standing for long periods of time hurt, plus the whole experience was daunting and painful. It was good to know I was not alone.

A good observation to report is that all of the people working for the DMV behind the counters, with the floods of people staring at them from the other side, never ever lost their cheerful, high spirited approach to their job and the people they served that day.

Olvera Street and the Hidden Treasure of the Avila Adobe.

This Pueblo was named after the first judge in Los Angeles, Judge Augustine Olvera in 1877. The street leading into the Pueblo was closed to vehicles in 1930 and became our Olvera Street or Calle Olvera. This beautiful little gem has been a place most Angelinos have enjoyed from childhood on up into their senior years.  They were taken to visit when they were children, and therefore, took their children and now their children are taking their children and so on. All of us living in the vicinity of Olvera Street became immersed in the tradition. Many of us make this our number one location to visit when we have out of town guests.  It is a bang and blast of color, drama, culture, food, fiestas, celebrations, performances, artists, history and a special community historically and culturally connected to Los Angeles.

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I must tell you, I have visited plus taken family, friends and guests to Olvera Street for many years but on the most recent visit a new treasure opened up to me.  It is called Avila Adobe. It is just steps off the street, but all of the previous times visiting Olvera Street, I have been blinded by the street’s explosion of color, goods, action and food, so I missed its presence.

This time visiting Olvera Street with our out of the country guests found us in the courtyard of the Avila Adobe.  The signage states that this Adobe is the oldest building still standing in Los Angeles. I want to believe it.  In any case, it is a beautiful historical and cultural monument.  Come inside and see some of the rooms where a few restorations have been done in keeping with the original home. It is understood that most of the original furniture came from other countries given to Avila in trade.

You can see from the small collection of photos included here, the inside the Avila Adobe gives off an aura of fresh peacefulness. Even though the day was uncomfortably warm outside in the courtyard, the moment you entered the Adobe, an omniscient presence and an encouraging calm atmosphere appeared to envelop you. A somber softness fell upon the rooms; an old lingering mellow and calm richness gradually takes over your being there. It feels like people are still living here and while viewing some rooms you feel the remnants of people who are still going about their daily lives.  If you find yourself on Olvera Street, don’t leave without stopping and visiting the interior of the historical Avila Adobe Museum.

As you leave the Adobe, you exit onto Olvera Street.

Come and Enjoy Orcutt Ranch and Horticultural Center

Orcutt Ranch and Horticultural Center: Open daily from Sunrise to Sunset.

This property is a most wonderful respite quietly sequestered at 23600 Roscoe Blvd. in West Hills, California is a retreat from the teeming urban environment most of us find in our daily lives.

I am not an official recruiter for Orcutt Ranch, but I do recommend you spend some time there.  It is not a big investment of time for a huge return from nature and ancient fauna and flora.

Admission to this historic 25-acre Orcutt Ranch and residence is free and isn’t that a lovely courtesy?

Orcutt Ranch was formally called: Rancho Sombra del Roble, which means, “Ranch in the shade of the oak.” If you park your car in the parking area and begin your walk of the grounds, you will fill your senses with trees, some 600 – 900 years old; you will encounter community gardens, citrus orchards, an old Spanish style home, an old well maintained barn, beautiful rose gardens, and an especially wonderful moment is to stand in and amongst the bamboo forest. If the wind is up the sounds of the bamboo forest take on orchestral tones. Consider having your wedding or special event at Routt Ranch.

If you come to Orcutt Ranch in July you are encouraged to pick ripe Valencia oranges and white grapefruit. A slight charge will be incurred.  This is a secret. If you stand under an orange or grapefruit tree in the orchards, soon a ripe fruit will fall very close to you. No one is looking. Peel it and bite;  juice rolls down your chin and your eyes roll back with the sensations of such a pleasurable taste treat. How can you be charged for a gift the tree has dropped into your path?

There are plots of land to the side of the ranch that can and are rented for $120 per year. Many renters grow vegetables year round in the ranch’s community gardens.

Since I am in no way connected to Orcutt Ranch I am free to tell you the lessons I learned from my visits to this lovely hideaway.

First, there are lessons from the trees. If they could speak you say, what would they say?  If you listen you will hear six and nine hundred year old truths that sound as modern as today. They will tell you, “Let nature take its course.” They will tell you to become more and more adaptable and mutable. Figure out a way to survive. They will say, “Age breaks down structure.” It poses pulls of gravity and may need some holding up with braces and wires to hold parts into their places.

And then, you witness the gnarls of time, a sight you see in all walks of life on the planet. Our bodies as we age need lots of tweaks, touch ups, grips, clutches and embraces. The lessons include resilience of time. We do not have as much time to learn these lessons, as do the trees, so we must preserver and survive during the time we are permitted. Ancient plant life shows sustenance from the earth and the process, which keeps all living things alive for a prescribed parenthesis in time.  If you try and alter the time lapse, I think that would negate the lessons. Altering nature gets into Biotechnology, which takes more time to study and discuss.

Secondly, there are lessons in history on this ranch. Time has moved along and if we preserve the past we will more fully enjoy going back in time for whatever time we have allotted.  Historical visits rejuvenate and elevate our consciousness.

Visiting Orcutt Ranch and the lessons you learn will be different, from mine, but no less rewarding. They will enhance the time spent at the ranch and will make your day! Each time you visit you will learn new lessons and leave with a newly formed enlightenment.

Brandeis Day Trippers at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, California

January 12, 2012

If you have an opportunity to visit the Homeboy  Industries Facility at 130 Bruno Street in Los Angeles, California, you will have an enlightening and spiritual journey you will long remember. Our day was spent in awe. WE had lunch at the Homegirl Café. The food is delicious and generous. The Bakery is full of lovely pastries and luscious breads. If you happen to be there past 2:00 p.m. you will be able to buy two breads for the price of one. What a deal. In addition to the Homegirl Café and the Homeboy Bakery, there is silk screening and embroidery, merchandise made by members is sold on the premises and can be ordered; an active component is their Homegrown mini farm that not only helps supply the dining facility, but is sold in Farmer’s Markets at many locations in Los Angeles.

All of Homeboy Industries is funded purely on donations and not only the services you see are available to give people at risk a second chance, they are also offered, temporary housing, urgent medical, mental health and dental care, child care, emergency car repairs, bus and train tokens and vouchers, tattoo removal, food and clothing for job interviews and to create a new image. Education is a strategic part of the recovery program. Academic classes in Life Skills, Substance Abuse, Support groups, Extracurricular classes and Work Readiness classes are offered everyday. Some are elective and some are mandatory. Another very important part of the work at Homeboy is job training and job referrals.

All and all the day spent at Homeboy Industries was enlightening and important! Donations are appreciated. Go for a visit. Eat lunch. Buy some bread and pastries and most of all talk with people in the facility. Better yet, if you know when you will be there, ask for a private tour. The people at Homeboy Industries are proud to share their accomplishments.

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