January 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

Can we call it “alpenglow” if it’s the San Gabriel Mountains we’re talking about?IMG_2653

WDCH flora & fauna

January 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

Visiting the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles means more than just music.

There’s the beautiful garden on the north side.










And there are the photographers —for weddings, quinceaneras, MFA projects, fashion designers—who use Geary’s undulating architecture as backdrop for their shoots.

Disney Hall shoot

Silverlake Coffee 101

January 22, 2013 § Leave a comment


If you want a table inside, get there early. Once the screenwriters/novelists hunker down, they don’t move.

Macbooks are optional; it’s really okay to bring your Vaio.

Avoid the couches, they’re ergonomic monsters.

Tip well. The baristas are good at what they do and it’s a hard job.

Smoking on the patio is NOT okay. That’s not just me saying it; in L.A., it’s the law.

Water bowls are available on the patio for your pooches.  And if it’s cold, how about bringing a blanket so Fido doesn’t have to lie on cold concrete?

Put up the umbrellas, take them down, move them around, whatever. But: Thou shalt not steal thy neighbor’s shade.

Bus your own dishes. (What, were you raised in a barn?)

Did I mention you should tip the baristas?

If you park in the lot more than 2 hours, expect the stink-eye from the attendant (and deservedly so).

There’s no password for the wi-fi and no key needed for the WC.

If you ask, the baristas give you soy milk for your coffee. No charge.

Don’t assume electrical outlets on the patio work . In or out, plug in other patron’s power cords if they ask.

Last, but not least, tip well!


January 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

IMG_2629This cat attached itself to me as I walked through her neighborhood one morning. I stroked her back; she put her nose in the air and flicked her bushy tail from side to side, making the soft, bleating sounds that signal pleasure.

Her thick, long piebald pelt was soft and silky. Someone was taking good care of her.

I had to go before she was ready to let me go. “Sorry cat,” I said, straightening. She rubbed the top of her head against my shin and mewed in supplication, then trotted after me as I set off down the hill picking cat hair out of my mouth.


In the way of cats, something else drew her attention before I had gone very far and I was a solitary walker once again.


January 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

Back east, where I lived for most of my life, jade plants were delicate things in small pots. Even the one I gave to my mother, gardener par excellence, remained bonsai-size, never taller than 7 or 8 inches.

At a North Shore Chicago florist, where I worked in graduate school, we marveled at a splendiferous jade plant brought in for repotting. It must have been a couple feet across–a veritable tree!

Then I moved to Southern California and discovered that jade plants grow like weeds here. One of my neighbors has a 20-foot-wide thicket of jade plants along the perimeter of her property. Every year in the dry season, the plant’s thumb-like leaves shrivel into desiccated remnants of their former selves, and I think, “Surely this time they’re dead.” And every year when the rains come, the leaves plump up again in a remarkable display of regeneration.

In a region where seasonal changes are subtle, I admire the jade’s blatant surprise.


Read, look, listen, learn

January 16, 2013 § 1 Comment

IMG_2651 IMG_2649Three cheers for the Silver Lake branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. Lot’s of natural light! Platinum LEED rating! Kiddie computer desks! Wi-fi! Reading nooks! Quiet room! Hipster librarians! Community room! Movies! CDs (music & books)! Manga! Vampires! Silverlake shelf! Computer carrels! Comfy chairs!

My natural habitat.

Armstrong Hill

January 15, 2013 § Leave a comment


If you live on the east side of town, you probably know what this is: the Silverlake Reservoir walking path where it parallels Armstrong Avenue. The path has become a superhighway of sorts, a constant flow of runners and walkers in the mornings and evenings. In fact, there’s rarely a time of day when there aren’t people circling the reservoir. I don’t know how early they start, but I do know that I’ve driven by late in the evening–say 9 or 9:30–and there were people out there in the dark.

I’m happy to see so many getting exercise, although I’ve also been known to complain about extra traffic and drivers who park with their rear bumpers across our driveway.

It sure beats what was–or rather, wasn’t–there before. We’d walk on the roadway, even along Silverlake Boulevard, except where there were sidewalks around the dog park and rec center. The worst was Armstrong Avenue. A dirt path ran alongside the DWP property north of the hill, but stopped at the crest. Heading south from there, walkers either crept over a rock outcropping and around a few trees, then negotiated a steep slope down to Silverlake or walked on the street, which is a narrow, two-lanes.

Somehow, no one ever got mowed down, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. I came up over the hill one evening, blind to what was on the other side, and found my lane taken up by a couple pushing a stroller, their dog beside them. I avoid running them over, but wondered if I should call in a report of child endangerment.

What I really wanted to do was post a sign asking walkers to PLEASE cross the street and use the sidewalk on the other side. Knowing that simple request wouldn’t be enough, I planned to add the following: “If you absolutely must walk in the roadway, please leave identifying information with one of the neighbors so that we’ll know where to ship the remains.”


January 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Monday morning rush hour on I-5 @ Glendale BoulevardIMG_2583

Reading palms

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

These are the palm trees that I see from my second-story study. They are my anemometer: before leaving the house, I look at the fronds to determine how strong the wind is, using my own version of the Beaufort scale.

It’s not as if I actually know anything about the Beaufort scale; I stumbled across the subject just today while trying to find out how to spell ‘anemometer.’ But it suits my purposes: it’s a visual method of determining relative wind force that was devised by a 19th century British Royal Navy admiral named Beaufort. Seamen learned to eyeball wave height, white caps, and water spray and to assign the conditions a numerical rating from 1 (calm) to 12 (a helluva gale you wouldn’t want to be out in). There are concomitant land-based observations that rely upon smoke, flags, roof tiles, and, yes, tree limbs, among other markers.

The Royal Navy used these gradients to determine how to position the sails of their ships. I have much humbler intentions: I just want to know how many layers to wear when I go outside.



January 12, 2013 § 1 Comment

IMG_2605 Somehow I missed seeing the car that careened onto a neighbor’s sidewalk, scoured off a patch of stucco retaining wall,  bounced off  tree, then came to rest—judging by the skid marks—somewhere down the block.

Cars usually go out of control at the curve around the reservoir meadow.  We’ll be awakened by the crash, wander out in our pajamas to see if anyone is hurt–mostly not  due to the relaxing effect of an alcoholic stupor–and help the driver call a tow truck or their unlucky parents.

But this crash happened on a straightaway further down Silverlake Boulevard, though I can’t imagine how. I came upon the evidence a day or two later, marveling at how a driver who could not negotiate a straight path managed to steer a car between the Charybdis and Scylla of wall and verdure.IMG_2599

Someone recently added a graffiti side note to the damaged wall. Whether commentary or decoration I can’t tell, but it adds a certain je ne sais quoi.


Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for January, 2013 at Real in L.A..