Back in June, shortly after returning home from the task of clearing my mother’s house and depositing some of her things at my brother Steve’s house, I flew down for a couple days in LA. The main purpose was to visit dear friends and pick up a car from them, with which I then drove back home to the bay area and renewed my acquaintance with that quintessentially American experience, the long road trip in a big car on good roads with music blasting and the miles going by rapidly out the window. It was lovely. Even more lovely were the the (too) few days I enjoyed in LA with a few friends. Several hours one day were spent with a visit to the Getty Center, perched on its hilltop in the Cahuenga pass – the first time I’d been up there since a wonderful trip with Mom in early 2013, during which we watched an outdoor dance performance taking place all across the sprawling grounds and gardens. (See photos of that performance, and of Mom enjoying the grounds with our cousin Pat, here: https://somuchworldsolittletime.com/2013/04/15/creeks-peaks-streets-malingering-in-la/ Since then, they’ve added more outdoor sculpture around the gardens which I (and Mom) always loved…meaning she’d have loved it all even more now, so I made sure to enjoy it extra much in her memory :-). It was also pride month, and Santa Monica marked the occasion with seasonal lighting on the Third Street Promenade. Capitalism at its best, eh?
After that last visit to Amsterdam, I flew home to California in late April, the end of a wonderfully wet and snowy rain season on the west coast: which meant lots of much-needed snow even in the mountains of California! As always, I aimed for a window seat and kept my camera handy. I no longer remember the precise route, but I think we went about 1/3 of the way up Greenland and across northern Canada, then angled down around the mountains between British Columbia & Calgary in Canada, and across into the US south of there still angling southwest. The four big photos (above, below, and after the gallery) are out of order — look closely and you’ll see the Hollywood sign on the hills in the photo of LA just above, as the plane flew inland then swung around and line up for the southern runway’s approach route. And I’m fairly sure the photo directly below is from Greenland. (Yes, a thing those from the East Coast of the US may not know is that when flying from the West Coast to Europe, one usually flies over Greenland, as opposed to just south of Iceland which I usually seem to do when flying from NYC.) The shots in the gallery are all in order. I think we crossed the Sierra Nevada south of Yosemite and I was seated as you see on the left of the plane, so I didn’t see Mt Whitney or Yosemite from the air, more’s the pity – the few times I have, my camera has not been handy. Oh well…next time :-). Enjoy!
So smw, slt has again left the continent and headed off to work. This time our work really won’t be anything we document on here, so both to clear my own to-do list, and to leave my friends with a sense of how well-rested I’ve become from these past two months in my spiritual and now literal home of California (well, literal in the sense I actually have a home there waiting for my return, not in the sense I’m there at the moment or expect to be for the next few months…), I’m giving a you a scrapbook of shots that piled up since my return from the ABQ wedding in mid-August. The bay, the golden gate bridge and Marin headlands as seen from Fort Mason; various scenes of Napa and Sonoma counties as seen from hikes & bikes around new new home base; some shots from a couple days last week (!) in Los Angeles – back to Topanga Canyon & the fountain in Grand Park on a nearly-full-moon night (the next night, we stood out on my balcony up north to watch the lunar eclipse at 3AM, how cool was that?!)…and scenes of the bay’s wetlands around Palo Alto as seen when I had the privilege of riding along for some training with my friend Amy who’s getting herself trained to fly a small plane.
If you’re curious about the work, there was a PBS frontline documentary filmed in early August at that project where I’ll very soon be working; from Europe I’m unable to launch the link but I’m fairly sure if you’re in the US you can find it here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/ebola-outbreak/
As the man says, be well, do good work, and keep in touch. It’s certainly what I plan to do! Cheers.
smw, slt has been in my titular US home of San Francisco for three weeks now. Prior to that, during the post-assignment re-alignment of my sensibilities that I undertake after each international work stint, I spent five weeks living on the coastal side of Los Angeles. During that time, my activities consisted primarily of the following: bike rides up and down the coast and up into Topanga Canyon, concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall, concerts and museum visits at both Getty Centre and Getty Villa, and getting together with the various friends I have there. On the theory that it’s good to post the imges from my last location before leaving my current one, I present a selection of shots undertaken during those activities. Each photo has a name which says what it is, and I think I will let them do all the speaking. If you’re in touch with me, you know the process of transition and rearrangement I’m undergoing vis-a-vis preparation for the next phases. If you’re curious but not yet in touch…what’s stopping you? 🙂 Enjoy!
smw, slt has now returned to Port Moresby, from 4.5 lovely, wonderful and restful weeks in LA. With fond thanks to the family members and friends who spent time with me in LA, many of whom flew great distances to be there, I present herewith my usual too-big selection of photos. It’s late Monday, already more than 24 hours after I landed back in POM, and I know that if I don’t post these fast then it’s likely to be weeks and weeks before I get to it. I’ll have a full couple weeks of settling back in here. So I’ll keep the text short and focus on the photos. Folks who live in LA are usually happy when outsiders think of it as little more than a knot of crazy freeways overloaded with traffic, but in fact there are many wonderful things about the region, and these photos may give you glimpses of why I always find it one of the most relaxing places to spend my down time, especially when I can stick to my bike and the streets of Venice – which I did quite well until the final week on this trip. The final week took me out a bit more into town and yielded some of the – too many – photos of Disney Hall that you’ll be seeing, both above & below. Hope you enjoy. 🙂
I’ve become addicted to physical therapy: this time for tennis elbow to allow me my regular tennis outings once I got back here; last time to fix my shoulder after tearing it up on the roads of N Kivu. Above and below are shots of the birds, flowers, bikers, walkers and waters of Ballona Creek which forms part of the route to my physical therapy appointments. Yes, the bike ride to and from PT is half of the reason for my addiction. 🙂
When my mother and brother came to visit, Trisha Brown Dance Company was doing a big retrospective in collaboration with UCLA, including a fantastic site performance at the Getty Center – as you see, these 10 dancers spread around the center doing a 40-minute performance were just a magnificent blend of movement, architecture and natural environment. And above, by contrast, a street-side view of Disney Concert Hall, yet another of LA’s architectural (and acoustic!) gems.
At left, Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood has expanded since my last visit; and WeHo park has gotten a radical face-lift and a big new parking lot complete with graffiti art since my last visit. 🙂 Below, some shots of me at Disney Hall’s garden, taken by Mom, the only visual proof that I was actually in LA these last weeks…
Below, if this lays out as hoped, if you look closely you’ll see a bit of a rattlesnake’s tale sticking out of that brush. This hike in Topanga Canyon was rather exciting for my friend Steve and me, since we nearly stepped on not one but two rattlesnakes, and nearly walked into a buzzing swarm of wasps or some other flying insect that generated a certain sense of menace in our brainstems… Further down, again if this works as I hope, a junction sign on the hike; we tried to avoid heading toward Cheney for obvious reasons. Above & below are my photographic ode to the streets, houses and beaches of Venice. It’s so much more than the drug-addled beach walk full of tacky t-shirts, which is just the face it shows tourists. 🙂
Above, my photographic ode to Walt Disney Concert Hall, an acoustic and architectural masterpiece in the heart of LA. Below…a shot to confuse you: from last August, standing in line for our boat trip at Margaret River in Northern Territory, Australia. Since there’s so little of me in this post, figured I’d remind you what I look like…
smw, slt has been back in Los Angeles for 2.5 weeks now, weeks that have flown by with the speed of a bullet train. Less than two weeks from this moment as I sit in bed at dawn uploading these pics and writing these captions, I’ll be back on the airplane winging my way across the Pacific. Since there is much that I dearly love, and much that I dearly love to make fun of, in my home state and home country, I’m bringing you some of both. Just captions to explain, nothing much else. Enjoy.
LA County Museum of Art (first shot) has expanded quite a bit since the early 2000s which was the last time I lived here in LA full time. Similarly the construction around the Ballona Wetlands by Playa del Rey, the two shots above, has continued and added plenty of cars to the roads, but left these lovely fields of wildflowers and wetlands for birds in a few pleasant pockets.
Immediately above, the main central garden at the gorgeous Getty Villa, reopened in 2005 when I’d already begun this wandering lifestyle. Since I live by the water here it’s easy for me to bike up the Getty Villa, spend a morning or afternoon in the gardens and enjoying the classical collections – something I do as often as I can! Above is one shot of the Santa Monica mountains as seen from an odd angle of the Getty Centre, which has remained blessedly similar to what it was when I left LA to start living as I now do…
Two studies in orange from the Long Beach Aquarium: above, California Poppies (our state flower!), which blanket hills and valleys in a golden-orange carpet every spring; below, orange jellyfish (known to our Australian cousins, I believe, as marine stingers – perhaps more accurate but less poetic, don’tcha think?) in a tank inside the lovely aquarium which I was delighted to visit – along with the Getty villa – with my friends Cate & Dan, and their parents Neal and Elizabeth, when they spent a few days out here with me. Thanks :-). Above, a few more shots from the lovely mid-town LA County Museum of Art, whose regular collection still surprises me on occasion (even after a few years as a member), and which underwent substantial expansion in the last few years; below, sunset in Marina del Rey, the last place I lived full-time in the US: you can see why, huh? 🙂
And these last shots: can’t help myself when I get back to the US… I mean, seriously, the level of coddling that our litigious society forces upon all institutions. Anyone who didn’t figure out that you’re in the foul ball area deserves to be hit; anyone who doesn’t notice the giant drop off down to the rushing traffic below deserves to fall…and so on. Btw, I was always taught the four styles of Chinese cuisine were Szechuan, Hunan, Canton & Northern/Beijing…who knew that New York had become one of China’s regional cuisine hotspots! 🙂
And we end with the Getty Centre, scultpure garden and the road, under construction and very biker-unfriendly (this I know: I travel mostly by bike here in LA, when I’m not on the bus), below the Getty.
After a lovely family and food filled holiday hosted at my temporary apartment in NYC, I hopped a flight for LA on Monday the 29th, where I had a bit of time to walk around my old haunts of Venice and Marina del Rey before hopping a flight the following day for Tahiti. It being one of those classically gorgeous LA winter days, with seaside temperatures in the perfect range, and skies more than clear enough to see the snow on the San Gabriel Mountains, I couldn’t help snapping a few shots.
In June, and again in August, I spent some time in LA – a city many outsiders love to imagine as little more than a smog-ridden, traffic-overwhelmed sprawl. While it does have plenty of smog, traffic and sprawl, those of us who’ve lived there and learned to love the city know its many hidden jewels in the mountains and along the coastlines of California. With my friends George, Pierre and Ed I had the chance to enjoy two hikes along segments of the Backbone Trail, which follows the Santa Monica mountains to connect the uphill, inland portion of Will Rogers State Park (better known for the beach portion) to Point Mugu up the coast past Malibu. The hilly portions that are flowery and greener are from the June hike, and the drier ones are from the August hike. I’m also including some shots of a visit with my friend Gary to Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge, at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains — the closeup of lavender berries, plus the shots above and below looking at big tall mountains in the background are from that visit. The sunset shot of a hilly arc of palm trees was taken in Gary and Rick’s lovely central LA neighborhood of Silver Lake. See how smoggy and ugly LA is!?
My storage space is now fully reorganized, and more belonging are being unloaded to those who need them more than I do, such that it leaves room for my bike and a few other items that hung out in the Shansi House basement at Oberlin and in my brother’s basement for the past two years (thanks, Deb & Carl; thanks, Steve).My various personal affairs and projects are wrapped up, t’s seem mostly crossed and i’s mostly dotted, so I feel I’m now able to spend the final month of my vacation purely and completely on vacation. Not that the past months haven’t been great, but there’s usually been some “work” mixed into the days in addition to lots of transcendant yoga classes, great tennis lessons, much-needed quality time with my great friends like Gary, Steve, Howard, Gene, Mike and so on and so forth.
In early July my friend Steve (one of the Steves) and I went diving with SoCal’s LGBT diving group out on Catalina Island. I’d never done cold water diving with a full wetsuit and hood before; despite the bulk of the gear, it’s well worth it as I hope these pix, all courtesy of Sharon and other members of the group, attest. Neal & Elizabeth: do consider going with me when you’re out here! 🙂
I’ve gotten fabulous ego rushes from all those people who seem to think my current career path makes me sorta special (why don’t cute guys like Matt Damon seem to think so, though?), and even finally had something that felt like a real date the other night. That was fun: holding hands in the movie theater! Since I didn’t get to do that in high school – at least, not with the guys I wanted to – it’s fun to make up for lost time now. The big shadow over my summer has been – and remains – my overly-frequent visits to the dentist’s office to deal with repercussions from a tooth I chipped while eating a guava in Sri Lanka in January. My lessons learned: if a dentist proposes anything major (and from my seven visits so far, I must say that crowns and root canals are major, NOT FUN, and EXPENSIVE), be sure to ask A LOT of questions, consider a second opinion, be completely confident that you know and trust the exact dentist who proposes it, ask questions of a few friends who’ve had similar experiences, and consider getting a second opinion before agreeing to it. I’m trying to get over my regret that I did none of the above until it was way, WAY too late…and I certainly won’t ever be going to this dentist again. Now I only pray that it’s all done and completely taken care of before it starts to affect my departure for Nigeria: please send up good energy for that to happen, one and all.
On the plus side, there’s been a glorious new addition to the spiritual side of my life that started to blossom when I found yoga teachers who pushed me to broaden my practice beyond the assanas. Thanks to Bruce & Jen in Indiana, and Shari here in Pasadena, I’ve been greatly enjoying as many services as I can take in at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Santa Monica. For any of you who’ve wished for a space where you can share your joy in life’s mysteries and magnificence without all the prescriptions, proscriptions and dogmas that seem to go along with most organized religions (not to mention that frequent requirement to turn your brain off and believe what someone else tells you blindly), I’ll say this: check out the UU congregation nearest you, whatever your faith background.
I’ll leave the introduction at that: there’ll be captions on some of the pics, and more about what’s next when the time comes. There are also a few pedantic and preachy texts about issues ethical, political, humanitarian and social down below. Feel free to skip those and just enjoy the pix. You all know how I need to vent every now and then; please don’t hold it against me. As always, thanks for the support, and spare a smile and kind word for someone you don’t know today.