The AFI Film Festival began this week. Have been writing up reviews to several of the movies. The first piece, an interview with LiTTLEROCK Director Mike Ott can be found here.
Hi, this is Doug–I’m guest posting for Katie today to show off some Halloween pics from Sierra Madre last night. If you live in the Los Angeles area, it’s worth a drive to the sleepy little town where they filmed Invasion of the Body Snatchers in the 1950s; it really hasn’t changed much.
A tree-lined block on Alegria Avenue is closed off every Halloween to showcase the amazing decorations residents make, including lights, fog machines, and hundreds of pumpkins grown in their own backyards. Thousands of visitors walk up and down the sidewalk throughout the night. If you go, be sure to stop by the excellent indie coffeehouse, Bean Town, for some hot chocolate or cider.
A VW pumpkin that is at least five feet in width.
A whole scene–the pumpkin cauldron and chandelier are a couple of feet wide.
This is a serious work of art–the photo hardly does the detail justice.
And, of course, our own little pumpkin!
Last weekend we decided to escape the heat here in Pasadena (temps hovering around 100 degrees!). So, on Saturday we went to see our friends Stefanie, Henry and Holger in Santa Monica.
Papa, Alex, Stefanie & Henry
Henry was curious about Alex and seemed to want to play with her not realizing that she’s just a little squat…
Henry & Alex
While Alex was doing some tummy time on their fun mat.
We then went to the beach in Malibu for lunch and on a fun little hike in the Santa Monica Mountains at the Peter Strauss Ranch park.
On Sunday it was still hot so we took a drive around Big Tujunga Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains. Kiddo was really fussy the whole way and finally fussed so much that it was lunch time so we stopped at a nice picnic area in the canyon.
Big Tujunga Canyon
And then we went swimming at our friend Rae’s house. This was Alex’s first time in the pool. I tried to get her in slowly but then Doug said, “Give her to me!” and put her in up to her waist. After a minute or so she really started liking being in the water and now even likes taking a bath!
So, yesterday I found out from one of my Stitch and Bitch friends, Catherine, that Laurie, aka Crazy Aunt Purl, was doing her very first official book signing here in LA to promote her book, Drunk, Divorced & Covered in Cat Hair. For any of you who read her blog regularly, you will find the book just as witty as her blog posts. This was her first book signing and I have to say that Laurie was her usual witty and very Southern self (in the good way — you know the way that all non-Southerners think is cute on people who don’t wear Red Man chewing tobacco hats or have tall bouffant hairdos). She did a great job and there was a really nice turnout of all the SnB peeps from the area (some I haven’t seen in while). Kinda like a SnB reunion of sorts.
I think that her book will do really well. She may be the next Yarn Harlot. (Maybe knitting books could actually become their own genre — instead of Chic-Lit, we could have Stix-Lit???)
I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures, but here is one with her and book in hand. (And no, she’s not drunk or demonic, I just haven’t figured out how to work the red eye feature in my camera yet. )
I have to say that Laurie is truly an inspiration in terms of writing & I hope the rest of her book tour goes as well as this signing did!
Aside from that I have a few leads on jobs (kinda hard to job-hunt at 5 months pregnant, I have to say!) and I have…been…knitting and spinning! Yeah! It’s been so nice to have cooler weather and a little more time to get things done (aside from working on the 2 pairs of socks I’ve had going since March).
So, here is my main WIP, a baby blanket for our future little one, who, by the way, is a girl. (I wanted to have primary colors and big shapes that were not gender-specific…)
Baby Blanket WIP
It took me a while to decide what I wanted to do for this. I really love primary and contrasting colors for kids, and although I usually crochet blankets for my friends’ & relatives’ kids, (because they are so much faster to make, sorry to say) I decided that my kid’ll have a knitted one. Most of the patterns in the books I found were really super pastel-like or required gobs of expensive yarn (hard to do on my current yarn budget these days). So, I opted for choosing a few squares, doing them in Cotton-Ease, and modifying the patterns as needed from Debbie Abraham’s afghan square books. It’s been a while since I’ve done any colorwork, (fair isle) so doing intarsia was a really nice (albeit tangled) change.
Originally I wanted to make up 12 squares altogether, the border squares being stripes and such. But then I realized I’d have to seam all of those suckers and, unless I’m doing whipstitch or crochet, I really hate seaming. So right now I’m trying to figure out what to do for the borders.
I also finally set the twist in my first skein of wheel-spun yarn. It turned out okay — overtwisted — but fine for a first attempt. Would love to get back into spinning on the wheel but have do something with my bobbins — all of them are filled with singles! I’ve also done some handspun on the spindle with the rainbow roving I got in Toronto.
So, in a few weeks I’ll be leaving my bohemian enclave of Venice Beach, moving a little futher east where things and people are more settled and ‘normal’. Part of me is sad to leave the beach and it’s strangeness, but then again, Venice is changing all too rapidly — something I was lamenting on my way back from the drugstore with my 2 rolls of packing tape today when….
I saw a guy dressed cabaret-style on stilts.
Ok, having lived here for almost 7 years I’m used to the odd, so at first I didn’t think anything of it when….
I saw another guy dressed cabaret-style on stilts.
I was beginning to think that this wasn’t just a random thing, that there was actually something going on down the street. I knew a crew was filming on the beach today (which is basically an everyday occurrence here) but a cast on stilts….
It turns out the Dresden Dolls were filming their latest video. Being a little out of it in terms of indy music these days, I have never heard of them, but read up on them when I got home and really think they are pretty cool — reminiscent of the punk/indy college music I loved in the 80’s. They were doing the video for the song “Shores of California” (what better place than Venice to tape???)
Here are a few more shots of the shoot and the cast…
Like many apartment complexes in LA, mine has a courtyard. Unlike a lot of complexes, though, this courtyard is a gathering place, a place where many of us stop and chat, exchange stories, hang out. It reminds me sometimes of an LA version of Armistead Maupin’s 28 Barbary Lane — with colorful and endearing characters — young and old, artisans and conservatives, naive and sophisticates all inhabiting the same space. There’s L, the 70-something retiree who playfully nags me like a mother; G, my Margaret-Cho-ish writer friend who teaches inner city kids; D, a playwrite who appears in Honda commercials; J, a pet-groomer who secretly dates his bosses’ 30-something daughter; B, a nurse and parent to a parrot named Rocky; and DB, an artist and manager at a health-food store who feeds every stray cat within a mile radius watching over our precious parking spaces like a guard dog barking at those who dare to park where they shouldn’t.
A few years ago the courtyard was much more of a public space. I’d sit on the sofa during vacations, chatting the day away. We’d have shared adventures and the occasional party. Recently there’s been less to tie us all together, with long-time neighbors moving out to cheaper and larger spaces. Those of us old-timers left who are at home during the day visit and remain close, but we miss the people who used to hang with us, those who had flown the coop. Sometimes it even seemed like there was less to bind us together, save our reminiscences about the past.
That is, until the hummingbirds came to nest.
It must’ve been about 3 or 4 weeks ago that DB & B noticed the nest. We’d had doves nesting in the trees before, but they never made it. They would usually be eaten by the stray cats or crushed by the careless gardeners (despite our entreaties to go gently with the pruning or power-washing.) B had put up hummingbird feeders all around the courtyard and we’d have a few flying around, but this year a hummingbird actually chose our courtyard to make a nest. We all were united by the excitement that comes from seeing something so wonderful in a city so crowded unfold right outside our doorsteps.
The nest was barely noticable at first. She was a wise one, our hummingbird, choosing a tree with a thorny bark which the cats wouldn’t dare climb. Her nest was like a fortress — a round cocoon made from twigs and fluff, completely encasing her eggs.
Every day we’d come out and look. At first, there was only the nest. Then, two beaks poked out, looking like two antennae feeling their way into the world. Next there were two little birds sitting ever so quietly in the nest, an unusual sight given the fact that hummingbirds seem to constantly be on the move.
Finally at the beginning of last week our baby birds took flight. Not too far at first — only out to the front gate, resting their delicate little wings as they watched their proud human parents buzz around them with excitement. Mamma would feed the little ones with nectar from the feeder and watch over them ensuring that they were okay.
Three days ago, mamma returned to the nest. At first we thought she’d lay a few more eggs after the success she’d had. But it wasn’t meant to be. Within a few hours she’d already dismantled the nest. Tearing down something that was built so lovingly and meticulously in the blink of an eye (or the flap of a wing, as the case may be). She sat there looking directly at me as if to say…
“Thank you, my human friends for letting me nest here, keeping me and my babies safe. Maybe someday we’ll meet again.”
Then she flew away.
My boyfriend, Doug, recently got me into disc golf and we’ve been checking out different courses in the area. Today we went to the Elysian Park course, Chavez Ridge. I have to say that it was really great! We were torn between going hiking in the mountains or doing disc golf, but this course combined the best of both. It begins near the edge of the baseball diamond and follows a series of switchbacks first on the west and then on the east side of the ridge. (I noticed a couple of guys huffing and puffing up the hill commenting on the incline.) Technically it is a much more interesting course than many of the ones we’ve tried — you have to throw just so or else your disc winds up stuck in brush all the way down the hill (hence the huffing and puffing…). We both averaged around 4-5 par for each hole.
The really great thing about this course, though, are the vistas of LA. By the 8th hole you are up on top of the mountain looking out over the towering skyscrapers of downtown. The east side of the ridge gives you great views of the Elysian Resevoir. When we were there — late morning — it was shady and there was a cooling breeze once you got up top. Perhaps the best thing, though, is that the course really is fairly self-contained. We only saw a few hikers and one somewhat drug-dealer-looking dude (hey, it is LA after all!). The rest of the people we met were fellow disc golfers. The course wasn’t crowded at all and there were no waits to tee off.
I’m not the most technically-inclined player, so I can’t really say anything about the types of discs or throws that work well. But, because of the obstacles in our way and the hills, it was by far the most interesting course for me to play. I’m not really good at the long distance throws but love to putt and do medium-range throws. This was a great chance to practice these throws because anything long distance winds up at the bottom of the hill (which, of course, means that you have to not only hike uphill but also throw uphill.)
The only thing (aside from the strange dude) to watch out for in the course is on the east side of the ridge. Holes 17 & 18 seem to go through a homeless settlement (if I were homeless, I’d live there too it’s so beautiful) and there was quite a bit of trash — some a little less than savory — near them. (We skipped these holes & I think the guys playing before us did too.) But this in no way hampered our experience.