Saturday, May 18, 2019

Long Beach, CA

To tell you the truth, we did more sitting around than anything. If you've learned anything about me, at least from my writing, it is that I am not much of a sitter, preferring to keep on moving. Alas, it was not meant to be. That said we did do a few things that may or may not interest you.

Let's see what you think, shall we?

Friday evening, the sun finally made a very brief appearance before dropping into the Pacific Ocean. The beach down the street from Hank's place is so wide and as I mentioned folks behind me in this photo were playing dodgeball.
Lowrider! You have to wonder what makes a person want to turn their car into something like this.

Saturday morning we took a walk soon after eating breakfast at Long Beach Cafe which looked promising but failed to deliver despite being open for more than 30 years. Nancy pointed out another place, however Bruce was skeptical of a place connected to a Travel Lodge. We sure learned that we were mistaken as one of the highlights of the trip was eating at this place.
Not only did Bruce and I eat breakfast there on Sunday morning, we returned for lunch with Nancy. Then we went back on Monday morning because it was that good. No wonder there was a line. Generally I think eating breakfast out is not worth the money, obviously, I'm talking about when you have a choice. The usual breakfast items are so easy to fix and inexpensive, I prefer eating out a later times of the day. Well, let me tell you, this place was worth every penny! The grilled rosemary bread was delicious as was everything else. As it was across the street from our hotel, it became the easy choice.

Across the street in another direction was a restaurant that we didn't try but wish we'd had time to because, well, who wouldn't want to eat under a bougainvillea canopy?
What would a Camera Crazy post be without a bird shot?
And no post about California would be complete without mention of their fantastic succulents that are HUGE...
and bloom too. Not that I'd ever seen that before but now I have.
Isn't that neat? Sadly, when we returned, that amazing Corn plant bloom had faded and I tell you, I miss it.

Saturday morning we walked over to the Shoreline Village which turned out to be mostly for folks like us...tourists.
That said, there are multiple marinas surround the place, including the Queen Mary dock which we did not visit but it is seen in the background in the photo below.
Maybe it was because of what we doing later in the day, but watching this ceremony was very moving. Following the flag ceremony, the boat went out to scatter the remains on the water.
Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of great things to see in Long Beach, it was just that we weren't in the mood for much of it. This was super cool on top of an apartment building:
Sunday was gloomy in the morning so after our breakfast at the Breakfast Bar, Bruce drove us over to 4th Street to an area called Retro Road.
Definitely up my alley, right? Unfortunately, perhaps because it was Mother's Day, many of the shops were closed, however we did manage to see some neat stuff, including these:
Yes, those are refrigerator doors to dressing rooms! We passed a roller skating shop,
still decorated for Easter. A sad reminder of why Orlando is now famous for more than Walt Disney World.
Probably hard to make out, on the bottom right of the colorful sign is a notation that the mural is in honor of Pulse and the 2015 Paris tragedy. A look inside a shop that is hard to define as they have fresh flowers,
a reading area,
clothing both new and used as well as a barber and metal working shop, with brick walls and a vaulted wooden ceiling. Very attractive place that we merely browsed because none of us was really in the mood for much of anything. Aside from the Breakfast Bar that is!

We were staying in what they call the art district of downtown Long Beach characterized by many murals.
Had it been sunnier, I'm sure I would have explored more but it wasn't and it was chilly besides. Not unlike most cities where it is warmer than others, there is a fair share of homeless folks, however, I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone with more stuff than this fellow rides around with.
We all wished we'd gone home on Sunday morning but we didn't so we spent most all the rest of Sunday sitting in the hotel lobby. Fortunately I had a pretty good book with me...The Art Forger that I finished. I know it sounds weird and that's because it WAS!

Monday morning, before heading to LAX, on the 405 freeway, I might add, we dropped Nancy off at the Long Beach Airport which is about as small as can be.
It is from this airport that Hank both gives flying lessons, and is a private co-pilot; the impetus for their move from Beverly Hills to Long Beach. After years of fighting the traffic, sometimes more than a two hour journey, the new place is about a twenty minute ride in the worst of traffic.

Well, you already know how frustrating the trip home was but what I didn't show you is who was waiting for the plane with us. He looks like he has no interest in the flight ahead, right?
Got to be very hard to fit a 7' body into an airplane seat even if it is in first class!

Well, today is Bruce's birthday and I bet you can guess where he is right about now....yes, he's fishing and has already sent me a photo of a four pounder he caught and released. With the success he's been having I called him "my magic man." Course, that's true every day as far as I'm concerned.

I, on the other hand have a bit of a cold and just hope he doesn't get it as well. It's a beautiful morning, I think I'll go outside for a walk......

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Memorial

I think Carol would have reacted the same as I, however, I suspect her complaints would have been even louder. I can't say as there was much good during our trip, and when I arose from my airplane seat arriving in Orlando last night, or really nearly one in the morning of today, and my foot stuck to the ground because someone left a huge wad of gum on the floor, I had had enough. So ready to get back to our little sanctuary by the lake. The flight attendant handed me a piece of tissue, as if that would have done any good. Fortunately I then stepped on a piece of cellophane that stuck to the wad, thus I could leave the plane. That sort of thing I can't keep to myself and fussed a bit, however, Carol, most likely would have fussed a lot! During the gathering several of her friends remarked that we looked similar and had many of the same hand gestures, and while that may be true, I probably might describe myself as Carol-light. Not nearly as beautiful or talented, we were, after all, only eighteen months apart, so there are bound to be similarities.
Nancy brought photographs that I'd not seen in ages, and it was interesting to me that our personalities already come through. I'm the one with the kerchief looking somewhat meek, whereas Carol is the one on the left already commanding attention with her big smile. Taken during the one short year we lived in Buffalo, NY, Nancy is in our Mother's arms, and Lisa is yet to be born.

Before we left I visited Monica for a tune up as I wanted to look my best for Carol. Had I not, and she was still alive, I suspect a scolding might have been given.
And no, it is not all cut off, just a few inches along with some serious thinning out.

We left Orlando late Friday morning, arriving in LA around 1. By the time we got our rental car and were on our way, traffic was brutal. During our trip in March we got around using the Pacific Coast Highway, moving from one little town to another as we made our way to Long Beach. Really, no problem and a good way to see what the area looks like. This time it was a completely different story with us hitting every single red light along the way! As we learned late on a Friday afternoon, there is no good way of getting around as the freeway is just the same. Los Angeles has a glamorous reputation, however, it doesn't really look a whole lot different than home. That is if you don't count the insane gasoline prices, or the recreational marijuana billboard.
Nancy, having landed at Long Beach airport hours before, waited patiently for us to arrive as we were sharing a room. The weather remained gloomy, as did our mood, however, when we finally arrived, after dropping off our bags we went to see Hank. Who should greet us, but Astro.
Nearly ten years ago, while staying with us in Orlando, Carol and Hank fell in love with Baxter and then and there, decided to get a Yorkie when they returned to California. As only our sister would do, she decided he was destined for stardom, hiring an agent who spoke at the memorial. Turns out Astro never became as big a star as she'd envisioned but, that agent became a long time friend who loved Carol very much. We also met Hank's son who we'd not seen since he was a child in Melbourne. Now living in Montana, he's enjoying life there. Although I didn't expect much in the way of a sunset, I walked to the beach anyway, seeing large groups of people playing dodgeball which I'm sure will be coming to fields soon all over the country. What starts in California, more often than not, spreads nationwide. I also checked out the venue, situated across the street from the beach, and beside the oldest gay bar in Southern California.
Who knows how they came up with the name Belmont Shores Chalet because that turquoise building looks nothing like one, inside or out! I'll show you a few photos from our morning in another post, but this post is about the event, so let's go there, shall we? You know all those photos I'd culled? They were left on Hank's kitchen table because Terylann, who put the event together, had more than enough, both in frames, and on the table.
In an amazing connection, Linda, pictured here with Lisa, not only knew Lisa from high school, but also lived next door to Hank and Carol years ago in Melbourne. I don't think Lisa had seen her for at least forty five years, so they had loads of fun catching up.
Never was I so happy as when Linda produced a letter Carol had written to her on May 11, 1995, 25 years to the day of the event.  She mentioned her burgeoning art career, Hank's job, both at TRW and the flying lessons he was giving. And still does for that matter even though he is soon to be 78! After being married to Carol for all of these years, I'd never once met his sister who lives in San Diego, but now I have met Missie and what a classy lady she is.
Bruce and the three Price sisters mingled with the guests, introducing ourselves, and discovering how they knew Carol. Loads of them were art connections, either collectors, or fellow artists.
A recurring them amongst many was that they didn't even know that Carol had cancer because she refused to say the word. Even more didn't know that she was dying, only that she wasn't herself. A few did though, including Nada, a collector and friend of many years who told some funny stories about Carol.
We'd met Nada and Max at Carol's bedside two months ago, learning how much Carol meant to them. I mention this because they had flown down from their home, one of three, on the Puget Sound just to see her. In their own plane, of course. That said, they are a dear couple that are crazy wealthy from owning a software development company. Their paths crossed while Carol was teaching art at the Palos Verdes Art Center many years ago, and I dare say, all parties were the better for it.

Hank opened things up, using the theme of things you might not know about Carol. Indeed. Bruce, Nancy, and I, had some laughs about this because some of the things he said were so improbable that we wondered, "is he talking about our sister?" Like that she played and coached soccer while they lived in Germany as newlyweds. Carol? Soccer? And the backpacking story? Can that one be true? Now the one about her being a fast driver, we could buy into that one!

The letter I mentioned above? Although I had not planned anything to say, once I read these words that she'd penned so long ago, "Anything you want is yours if you go for it.", I knew I had a lead in that I thought I could use without sobbing. That was Carol in a nutshell. She would try most anything, perhaps even soccer, although we are still finding that one hard to imagine. :) As such, maybe about five or so years ago, she decided to relaunch her modeling and acting career, hiring a photographer to do a head shot for castings. She sent me a bunch to choose a favorite and was I ever thrilled when this appeared after the event began. I so love this one of Carol.
It was in an acting class that she meant this beautiful young woman, Clare, who worked as a back up singer for Tina Turner, and most recently, Taylor Swift. Cher, too. Her tribute to Carol was so heartfelt, well, I don't know what else to say,
except that once we were home, Hank showed us a video Clare had made the day before for Carol's birthday, when she sings, If We Never Meet Again, and I loved this pretty girl even more. Today, when I had the nerve, I've searched for it and learned all manner of artists have sung it, including this old video by a very young Dolly Parton.   Warning.....tear alert!!

So, those were all wonderful, but the icing on the cake was Gregg, Carol's friend and agent, not to be confused with Astro's agent. He also told some funny stories, and then he called up Dave and together they presented,
Hank with a wonderful surprise. Apparently, he and others got together to fund an annual drama scholarship in her name.
And, of course, I'm crying all over again at the mention of this.

And then it was all over. The actors, artists, collectors, friends, and family left with their memories, while Bruce and Hank walked some flowers back to the house that she loved, but never really got to enjoy.
Carol was many things over the course of her 63 years, a teacher, visual artist, model, actress, interior designer, writer, sister, friend to many, loving Aunt and wife. But a soccer coach? Now that is just too much!

your friend,

Gail


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Smorgasbord

A big apology to my hard working husband who contributed the finishing touches on the bathroom and got not a word of love in my last post. Previously the baseboard was tile, however, we learned that folks are now using wood in modern bathrooms so....

Bruce rented a mitre box from Home Depot and went to work. Not an easy task using an unfamiliar saw, but the one he still owns is not large enough to cut the width of the baseboard we are now using throughout the house.
No doubt you will notice my blooming geraniums!!!!

It is not easy for a man to get down on the floor, especially in a cramped place, but he pulled it off with aplomb.
Not only did he do the baseboards, but he put up the new shelves and a towel ring!
Now that towel ring doesn't mean much to you, but Lord have mercy, it excites me! With a huge mirror taking up all available wall space behind the toilet and mirror, the towel hung out on the counter. Not ideal as the counter is not all that big, thus my excitement. Anyway, that about does it for the bathroom update. Woo hoo! Chatting with Anne yesterday afternoon, she mentioned she didn't remember the former owners ever wanting to do much to the place. I told you her memory was fantastic because she is oh so right about that, which turns out not to be a bad thing because we can remodel without feeling bad about ripping out new stuff. A win-win actually. As to the shelves, by now you are well aware that I love to decorate with things that have meaning, thus the jar I filled with shells Bruce's Mom collected has the top billing. An old black and white photo of Jonathan on our roof taken by Matt, as well as a clock he suggested I purchase many years ago. The sunflower photo is from a trip we took driving in Switzerland. Memories my friends.

Speaking of which, here's what my sunroom couch and surrounding area looked like for days on end.
I found loads and loads of photos of Carol, but perhaps the one below says more than I initially thought.
Taken probably twenty years ago, when we picked Mom and Carol up at the airport following their trip to England. That big smile of Carol's was something to behold. Everything about her was just a little big bigger than the rest of us girls, demanding your attention. As an aside, I remember loving that blouse I am wearing and I wish I still had it! We leave in the middle of Friday morning for California joining her friends in celebrating her life. Lisa and Nancy are going too.

You may recall that in the throes of Carol's illness, as well as Maureen's, we got the news that our friend Jeff, who had just proposed to Laurie, received a very serious diagnosis. Does that ring a bell? Anyway, here he is looking fit as a fiddle, having had surgery and treatment that is working!! He is on the upper left with Laurie across from him.
Steve and Barb (l) joined us for a meal the other night and it was so good to see them all.

When it rains it pours as far as get togethers go. Sunday evening we went to Pam and Glenn's house, and how about these three guys wearing essentially the same color shirts?
Now if they were blue, I would understand...

Irene made the beautiful Lemon Buttermilk Bundt cake that was to die for! She and Pam are looking for birds in Pam's beautiful gardens.
Well, you just knew I'd get around to birds, didn't you? I checked out the Mute Swan family at Lake Davis and they are looking good with the entire family still intact.
I was watching the Wood Ducks the other afternoon and two ducklings remain so that is happy news. These two were either taking a bath, or cooling off.
Is there anything more sweet than the wonderful fragrance given off by a gardenia bloom? Why, yes there is. How about a few hundred in bloom at once as seen beside our building?
The fragrance is so intense you can smell it from around the corner! I had a revelation of sorts this week when, first I saw the Corn Plant with what looked like pods cascading down the plant, but when we returned from Pam's the other night, I was stunned to detect a heady perfume emanating from those blooms.
I've seen plenty of Corn plants used indoors, and had not a clue that they produced such a fantastic display. Perhaps it is only when they are outdoors, as this one that resides beside our courtyard gate? What I discovered is that the fragrance only occurs in the evening. Here is a bunch more info on this exciting plant discovery, and if you have one yourself, be sure and read the comments as they will be an encouragement.

Bill and Fallon are on their honeymoon! Finally, after celebrating their one year anniversary in March. Their Mediterranean cruise began in Barcelona and as predicted, they are loving it all! And from the photographs I've seen, their weather has been ideal so far, unlike ours that is heating up big time with the summer storms beginning in earnest. As we were driving home from an errand on Lake Margaret Drive, stopped at a traffic light, I exclaimed to Bruce---"look at those clouds! They look very strange." Whipping out my camera I took one looking South,
and one looking North. It is the band that I found so unusual.
And while we didn't have any tornados, within minutes of taking these, we did have torrential rain and high winds, what some are calling a "micro-burst." Having the car door nearly ripped off when I got out in it, I can attest that it was pretty intense!

When Bruce asked me what my Monday plans were, I said I wasn't sure. Never did I expect to happen what followed a few hours later.

Here's the scoop:

Bruce texted me a photo of a bird, asking if I knew what it was as he'd just found it along the sidewalk while walking to the gym. Bringing my camera and a box, I zoomed up to the front of the property. He happened to find a plastic fork on the ground and put the little one in a box.
I had no idea what it was, but we both knew it wasn't good to find a bird on the ground.Thus, I took it home and did something I shouldn't have done, according to the Audubon folks I contacted after doing it. I found an eyedropper and fed it a bit of sugar water. A few times we did not connect, so that is what you see on the box.
It was a several hour saga as I sent them the photo, we talked, and they told me they thought it was an American Kestrel which made sense once I downloaded the photos I'd taken with my zoom of the bird atop the power line pole, 60 feet in the air! Quickly, well relatively speaking as there is no getting anywhere fast here, I drove over to the center in Maitland, Dawn met me at the back gate as they were closed to the public. I was ushered into the back rooms where banding was happening and two people were each holding a Hawk. Crazy, right? After filling out paperwork, she asked me to go  home and scan the area for some cavity that the bird might be calling home. Explaining I would try but seriously, it was beneath a huge power pole, so where could the nest be? The little baby, practically a newborn was shivering by the time I arrived, and they immediately placed it in an incubator. The reason for having me search high and low is because the bird was unharmed and they want to return a fallen bird to its parents ASAP. Bruce took some photos on his way home and still we couldn't find anything. I drove home a way that would put me across the street, and I took a few through my windshield as I waited at the interminable light at Michigan and Mills. (a story for another day.)
The above was taken to give them an understanding of the area. I zoomed in on the top of the largest power line and holy cow, when I checked on my computer, there was a bird! I rode my bike back and actually found Mom and Dad on the lookout for their baby.
And that's all I know. I sent them plenty of photos and it is up to them to contact OUC, the power company to make arrangements to return the baby to the nest inside the cap of that power pole. Calling them just now, it went to voicemail. A lot of effort for one baby bird isn't it? Hearing the little cheep, cheep, cheep from my back seat, well we did what we could. Bruce just returned from being up front and there is no sign of the parents. Boo hoo!

your friend,

Gail






Long Beach, CA