Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sunset at Rancho Palos Verdes, California

We flew to California to celebrate Thanksgiving withfamily. We were in Long Beach only 5days, but we packed many activities intothis short time. Before we left we boardedour cats Cody and Mitsou at the veterinarian even though they would have lovedto come with us. (Click on pictures to enlarge.)

Another cat was waiting for us when we arrived.

Ten people, three children and a baby were going to be atthe Thanksgiving meal, but it seemed that we prepared enough food for thirtyfive at least. We did buy the pies at alocal bakery where they offered a good variety – including mince pie, my favorite, which isvery difficult to find in Atlanta.

The menu included many of our family’s favorite dishes.

We were pleased to see our three grandsons, including the 4 ½months baby who keeps growing.

The eldest grandson’s 5th birthday was alsocelebrated that week. The cake wasdelicious.

On the deck, a visiting squirrel wanted to come inside toget a piece of cake I think.

On Friday afternoon – what is called Black Friday by thestores; they offer big sales and huge crowds go shopping – we did not goshopping – we drove for about 30 minutes to Rancho Palos Verdes along thePacific Ocean. My youngest daughterwould have liked to be married in the chapel there, the Wayfarers Chapel, butit only held 100 people, so she was married in Savannah, Georgia. TheChapel was built in 1951. At the time itstood alone on an almost deserted cliff overlooking the Pacific. Now trees, flowers and shrubs are surroundingthe Chapel.

The architect, Lloyd Wright, son of the famous Frank LloydWright, was inspired by the majestic California Redwood trees. He wished to create a “tree-chapel” - redwoodpillars were used in the Chapel and coastal redwood branches can be seenthrough the glass walls from anywhere inside the Chapel. The glass walls offer protection from theelements but also create a sense of outer and inner space. Nature and architecture unite to create anatural sanctuary.

Below is a 1960 era postcard.

This Chapel is part of the Swedenborgian Church of NorthAmerica. It serves as a memorial to itsfounder, Emanuel Swedenborg, born in Stockholm, Sweden (1688-1772.) Swedenborg was a scientist turned mystic. Hewrote anonymously articulating a new understanding of Christianity. His writings promoted a Church based on loveand charity rather than multiple churches named after their founders based onbelief or doctrine. His ideas were endorsed by AmericanTranscendentalist thinkers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry James, Sr., andEnglish Romanticists such as William Blake, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ThomasCarlyle, etc. More modern adherents wereHelen Keller, J. L. Borges and William Butler Yeats. The well-known Zen author D. T. Suzuki wrotea book called “Swedenborg: Buddha of theNorth” (which I have had in my library for quite a while – but have not readyet…)

My husband and I were married in the Swedenborgian Church ofSan Francisco in 1967. It is a lovelysmall church and the only one in San Francisco designated a National HistoricLandmark. It was built in 1895 withnatural materials by an elite group of early California pioneers including thenaturalist John Muir. This churchallowed non-members of the Swedenborgian religion to be married there. We took our wedding pictures in theirgardens. The gardens of the WayfarersChapel are also enchanting. There is a reflectingpool in front of the garden and next to it an apple tree dedicated to JohnnyAppleseed. John Chapman (1774-1845) wascalled Johnny Appleseed because he introducedapple trees to large parts of the Midwest. He was also a missionary for the Swedenborgian Church.

We visited the Chapel in the afternoon and decided to stayuntil sunset. We walked along the gardenwhich is beautifully maintained. In2004, Eric Lloyd Wright, son of the architect, created a Landscape Plan whichwas adopted to guide future botanic development.

As we waited for the sun to come down we admired theoutstanding view and the outline of Santa Catalina Island in the distance.

The view towards the hills was also impressive.

The sun was going down quickly creating golden shadows.

I was behind a tree – it was hard to have a good view of thesun

so I hurried closer to the cliff to see better.

I purchased the little Self-Guiding Walk guide. In the back is this poem –

Pausefor a moment, Wayfarer,

on life’sjourney,

Let thebeauty of holiness

restoreyour soul.

May theharmony of sky

and water,leaf and rock,

Nourishthe creation and growth

of yourinner being

As yourfare through this life

and oninto the life beyond.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blog Intermission no. 17 (entr’acte) Return to Smith-Gilbert Gardens

waterfall Last August we visited a garden not far from our home called the Smith-Gilbert Gardens and I wrote several posts about it, please click here to read part 1. It is a small garden but there was so much to admire that I wrote 3 posts on it. Last week since the weather was so nice and the foliage vibrant we decided to return to the gardens to see them under the autumn colors – we were not disappointed. It was a magnificent display. It is hard to believe that we were the only ones in this garden. Below is the Japanese garden area. (Click on collage to enlarge.) DSC_0293 There were so many rich hues of colors that I kept taking pictures with my 3 cameras. I took about 332 photos – now it will be difficult to decide which ones to show. Looking down to the dried Hosta then up to the top of the trees was like an overload of brilliant colors – from pure gold to brilliant orange, saffron, Chinese Lacquer red, alizarin crimson, faded plum and still some greens to shades of browns – a kaleidoscope of colors. foliage I remember my grandfather saying that when he had to babysit me when I was a child he would walk to the lavender fields and let me wander there – I could stay in there for hours never crying. I guess I kept this interest in the colors and scent of nature – I could have been staying in the garden all day looking at the fiery glow of autumn there and delighting in the scent of the drying leaves. There were some flowers too but since some were close to bee hives I did not get too close. fall flowers The various hollies would look good on Christmas cards. I had not seen the pale yellow berries of the Chinese Holly (Ilex Cornuta d’Or)– they would be striking in a dry flower arrangement. hollies I just went to take a look at the pictures on the posts I published last August on these gardens – everything was so green. Just take a quick look back there – it is such a difference now. I just could not stop admiring all the myriad shapes of the leaves, such as on the Jack Tree below. Jack tree What about this Lace Leaf Japanese Maple? So delicate - Isn’t it a beauty? Lace Leaf Maple J’etais inlassable – in English – I was tireless – could not stop looking at all these gorgeous exhibits of nature. But while I was jumping from tree to shrub to flower to sculpture my husband was patiently waiting and looking at the sky. DSC_0336 Looking up myself I realized he was watching a low flying airplane. DSC05494 I went to see if the roses were still blooming – they were. autumn roses One rose had a delicate scent and a lovely butter cream color with a dash of pale pink on the outer petals. It was called Julia Child – a perfect rose for Julia. Julia Child rose Close by was a sculpture I had not noticed last time I was in the gardens. It was a metal and granite piece by John Van Alstine, American, born in upstate New York in 1952. DSC_0340 The Parsley Hawthorn which in August had a vivid green color was turning gold and produced petite crimson berries. DSC_0310 Looking down there were some interesting foliage nice foliage and looking up I could see some trees with branches with interesting shapes as well. DSC05486 In the distance I could distinguish some color – this was the camellia garden. I had not seen the camellias last august as most blooms come in the fall. Many cultivars of camellias were giving the right burst of color among all the gold. From single-to double flowers with rounded shiny green leaves they invigorated the pathways. Some were pale pink pale camellia some had a pink color, which we would say in French “plus soutenue” maybe I could say a bolder pink… camellia rose then some had the pink turning toward the mauve camellia mauve Then I came upon a camellia bush which was covered with a multitude of white blooms. It seems that hundreds of cottons balls had been dispersed on it – the petals were overlapping – the blooms were spectacular. camellia snow flurry Further on was another white camellia, but this one had single petals – fresh and dainty. DSC_0345 I had spent a long time going from camellia bush to camellia bush and needed to find my husband. I found him by the pond behind the waterfall – meditating or looking at a frog maybe. by the pond Not to disturb him I walked away toward the little waterfall. There I was bedazzled by the enchanting waterfall surrounded by amazing colorful trees. I took many pictures from the side of the fall DSC05461 then facing the fall. DSC05448 Walking by the bonsai garden I was surprised to see that their leaves were no longer green – they are trees after all, not house plants. Bonsai trees After passing the fast moving koi DSC_0392 I thought I would see the dog on the porch, like last time, but no – the dog was gone and in its place was … a rabbit! DSC05480 It was time to go to the picnic area to have a look at the Chinese Parasol tree I photographed last August. I found it - its leaves were now a shade between a sunglow and light tan. Chinese parasol tree And there by a picnic table was my husband with a Thermos of strong black coffee – just the thing to end this enchanting promenade in the Smith Gilbert Gardens.
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving – here is a vintage postcard from my collection. In the back it says “from Vera to Grandma – 1911turkey postcard Note: Blogger Break - Post pre-programmed –

Friday, November 18, 2011

Meeting with Bloggers – encore

Yesterday evening I published the post below but it did not feed into Google Reader – that is, it did not update or show as a new post for my blog. This is a test to see if it is working properly now. If this post appears in Google Reader please read the real post below and place any comment there. Thank you.

By the way for the records, this current “post” will be the shortest one I have ever published!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Meeting with Bloggers

Since the weather has been so very nice, warm, sunny and dry, we have made several trips close by to enjoy the glorious foliage. I took many pictures and will include them in posts, but autumn lasts until December 20th, so there is time to show them. It seems the golden colors are surrounding our garden and we can see this grand display from any window. Our fig tree still has two figs remaining –

(Click on collage to enlarge, and click again on each picture)

Walking in our neighborhood is also a pleasure, even early in the morning (well, around 10 o’clock) when it is a bit cloudy.

As I write this, today Wednesday, was in the 70s (21-23 C.) But as we say in French there is “le revers de la médaille (the back of the medal, or the downside) and today that meant spending over an hour in our little room in the center of the house while tornadoes went over our area. We listened, but did not hear any tree falling in our in woods.

But I will not talk about trips or beautiful scenery – I’ll make this post somewhat more personal. Last Saturday we had an enjoyable time at my daughter’s in-laws and their extended family. It was the engagement party of my daughter’s brother-in-law. At least 40 to 50 people enjoyed the South Indian (Kerala) food which was delicious.

Also, yesterday evening, my husband and I attended the Atlanta Opera production of Lucia di Lammermoor. It is an opera in three acts. The libretto was written by Gaetano Donizetti in 1835. It was based on Sir Walter Scott’s (1771-1832) “The Bride of Lammermoor.”

The Bride of Lammermoor by Sir John Everett Millais, English 1829-1896

It is the tragic story of Lucy (Lucia) Ashton caught in a feud between her family and the Ravenswoods. The setting is 17th century Scotland – the Lammermuir Hills.

Lucy Ashton by William Etty, English 1787-1839

The sets were well designed and the ladies costumes outstanding – they were in tones of beige, cream, light brown, etc. which gave the impression of looking at a painting. Scottish bagpipes were playing outside the opera.

Photographs were not allowed in the theatre but I took some pictures before and after the opera.

We had not seen a live performance since last May (then another opera in Vienna, Austria) so we enjoyed this opera very much. The story is quite sad and I thought about reading Sir Walter Scott’s book but right now I have several books started and should not start another one. Below are the books currently by my bed. They are from left: Exit Interviews by William D. Hendricks, Drifter’s Gold by Don Blanding, The Discovery of France by Graham Robb, Dinner at Miss Lady’s by Luann Landon, My War by Andy Rooney (am almost finished – this is a library book), Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Claudine à l’école by Colette and The Diamond as Big as the Ritz and other stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I also have some mysteries that I usually take with me on trips.

The title of my post is Meeting with Bloggers so I better start talking on this subject. The first blogger I knew was my daughter Céline, of course. She started her blog Living in Long Beach in 2006 but did not post often (4 posts in 2006.) Lately she has been posting more. She helped me start my blog in March 2009 and is the person I go for help when I have a problem with my blog, or my computer. She usually knows the answers or finds them or makes them up as she is very creative. Below is a picture of Celine with her father, my husband, when we were visiting her in California.

The second blogger I met was Ginnie of the blog In Soul . Somehow I had found the name of her blog on another blog I was reading. At the time she had just moved to Holland from Atlanta. However when she came back to Atlanta for a visit we met for lunch. It was as if we had known each other for a long time. Ginnie takes beautiful photographs. She loves to travel and has many friends. We had a fun time. Here she is below.

The above photos are courtesy of Ginnie. she also let me copy a couple of photos from her photoblog Hart and Soul . That was a very difficult task to pick only two as so many outstanding photographs are in her archives. Her pictures are stunning - she really is an accomplished photographer.

The third blogger I met was Renny from the blog RennyBa's Terella . In July 2010 Renny had organized a "Blog Gathering" in Oslo where many bloggers came. We all had a great time. I met his wife Diane of the blog Diane CA's Metamorphoses. Renny and Diane worked a lot to make this gathering a success and it was - it made the type of memories that will stay with us. Below is Renny outside the Oslo Town Hall where we were met by the Oslo Mayor.

At this gathering I met several other bloggers like TorAa of the blog TorAa Mirror. He helped me with my camera when I had a problem. His son lives in Michigan so he comes to the USA often. Here he is below.

The Life Cruisers from Sweden from the blog Lifecruiser Travel Blog were another couple we met in Oslo. I took their picture on the steps of the Oslo Town Hall after the reception. They are wearing copies of Swedish Medieval costumes which they purchased in their summer island of Gotland, Sweden.

Their blog contains many interesting facts about traveling and lovely pictures. Here is a Faro fishing boat that they let me copy for this post.

There were several other bloggers at this great gathering but it lasted only three days with groups visiting Oslo in different areas, so I did not get a chance to talk to everyone. The next blogger I met was in New York City last year in November. Christina of the blog Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook invited us for dinner when she found out we were in New York. Her apartment then was by the New York harbor and had lovely views. Just look at the pictures I took behind her large windows. I could have stayed hours looking at this view.

We also met her new kitten. This last October we went back to New York and had dinner at Christina's again. Her kitten is now a young cat. She and her family have moved to another apartment in New York but still have a wonderful view. It was late in the day but I took a quick picture from her window.

Christina is an artist. She draws beautifully especially boats. Below is a picture of the tug Pegasus which she drew and let me copy for this post.

When we were visiting our daughter in California earlier this year we met another blogger, Naomi of the blog Here in the Hills. Naomi lives in a beautiful house in Hollywood overlooking these hills. When we came back I wrote two posts on Naomi - you can click here to see part one, then part two follows. Naomi had an assortment of tasty refreshments for us and we had some great conversations. She has so many interesting stories to tell. The time went by too quickly. I also took photos from her balcony that can be seen on the two posts I wrote about her.

On our trip to New York last month we went to Long Island. Naomi told us she was born and raised in Great Neck, Long Island and told us where her house had been located. We found her childhood home. This will be in a future post but for now here are pictures we took of her house at the time and of Great Neck.

Last May when we were in Paris we had planned to meet two other bloggers but our schedules did not match. Maybe we will be able to meet in the future. However, we were very happy to meet Karin of the blog An Alien Parisienne. Karin is an American living in Paris. We had a great time talking about France and the US. She lives in an area I do not know well - near the Buttes Chaumont and its beautiful park. That day was cloudy but not cold. We had lunch at Karin's place then she showed us the park. I have many pictures and they will be displayed in a future post. Here is Karin below.

Lastly, last month while in New York City, we met Frances of the blog City Views, Country Dreams. We met her at the Café Lalo in the Upper West Side, where she lives and where our hotel is located. It is a European style café with appetizing pastries. We were happy talking so I did not take many pictures but will show some in a future post. On her blog Frances shows us many areas of New York City as well as the various parades there. She also posts photos of her delicate handiwork, like the crochet sock below. She has an artist eye for colors which she blends in unusual and elegant ways. Below are some of Frances' photos.

In the future I hope to meet other bloggers as they are friends – they are like friends one has known for many years but not in the flesh. It is like when I used to have pen friends. The first time I met them in person they did not feel like strangers as I already knew so much about them. If one reads a blog for a long time one knows that person – what she/he likes, what are her/his favorite things, pastimes and hobbies. The blogger may describe trips, family gatherings, what is on the menu or what is ailing him or her. So when meeting with blogging friends we are not at odds, looking for something to say. All the bloggers I have met above where already my friends as I read their posts so it was such a great pleasure to meet them face to face. I wish I could meet all the blogger friends I read - like those in Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, etc., and if I ever go to their country or should they come here, I’ll certainly make my best efforts to meet them. We may not pass the calumet as pictured below, but will share a laugh or two.

A Sign of Friendship, Robert Griffing, American born in 1940


Note – I took the photo at the top of this post in Oslo, Norway. It is an iron gate sculpture in Vigeland Frogner’s Sculpture Park.

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