Sunday, June 22, 2014

We Went to Venice this Weekend....

...Venice, CA, that is.

It has it's own vibe, this quirky beach town.

And a beautiful beach.

Hazy day in LA today, but at the beach, the air was cool and refreshing.

This lady was walking around with a smile on her face
 and a tub of fresh fruit for sale on her head.

My main goal was not necessarily to reach the beach, I was on the hunt for the Venice Canals.

A recent newspaper article featuring a walking tour of the canals was my inspiration.

Designed in the early 1900s by a man by the name of Abbot Kinney, these canals and canalfront homes were inspired by his trip to THE Venice.

He even went so far as to import some gondolas as well as authentic Italian Gondoliers to tour people about this quiet oasis.

The gondolas didn't last and today exist as canoes, but the neighborhood that emerged lining the canals persists, evolves and still delights those visitors and locals who know where to go for a pleasant stroll.

A lot of big homes here, some very modern.

I think I'd feel quite exposed in these fish bowls, but maybe that's the idea.

Our next rental, perhaps?

Not unless my numerous acting talents get discovered and I'm paid what I'm really worth!
Maybe then I can snap up this fixer-upper for a couple of Mil.

There's a house back there somewhere. Then we could be 
THOSE people in the neighborhood.

But my heart rests with these smaller, more quaint beauties -"the holdouts", I call them.

Real Estate is at a prime in this location and not many properties have much yard space, but oh, what they do with the space they have!

Beautiful plantings at every turn.

Fences and gates.

A serene spot before heading back out into reality to retrieve our cars.

Venice, CA.
 A small area of contrasting tastes and lifestyles that somehow meld together into a wonderfully vibrant atmosphere.

Come see for yourself!

If you'd like another look at the funkier part of the boardwalk
you can take a peek at a post I did a while back:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Stanley's Scary Story

During my blogging drought many things happened that caused me to think, "Oh, I must blog about this!". Our family furkids always provide a lot of funny stories to share, but this time it was quite scary and traumatic.

Stan is our Greyhound "grandson', who owns our son, The Writer and his wife, Sammy. He's been in the family for about four years now, so he's a "solid" Boston Family member.

Waiting for The Writer and Sammy

You may remember his early days with the clan as he adjusted to our ways, or rather we adjusted to his:

Stan the Man!

In April, Sammy and The Writer took some time off and headed back to our home state, Florida. The Maven was asked to watch after Stan in their absence. This has always gone smoothly before.

This time things took a scary turn as Mr. Stan decided to test the boundaries of his backyard retreat-something he's never done before. He slipped out unexpectedly and was missing for about 20 minutes before The Maven realized it!

She called us (1 hour away) in a panic. Panic for many reasons, Stanley is naive about traffic, the area of LA they all live in has a lot (I mean, a lot!) of traffic and well...he was out!

Leaving Animal Control

Fortunately our good family friends live right behind our kids, so The Maven called Mrs. Smith-Smith for help. Mrs. S-S and The Maven sprung into action armed with a leash, a pic of Stan and his adoption file.

We got into Mr T's truck and headed towards LA.

At the emergency vets

Time passed with many updates, but still no sightings or information about Stanley. I spent the ride composing a Craigslist ad and talking and texting with Stan's distressed parents who by this time had been told what was going on.

Home at last, recuperating in the backyard.

As we neared their neighborhood and swung our heads back and forth looking for a sign of him we got an update from The Maven and Mrs. S-S. Someone had given them the phone number to Animal Control and when they called they were told a Greyhound matching Stanley's description had been brought in....after being hit by a car.

The "nurses" supervising Stan's yard time.

Only people who have received this kind of news can understand the mixture of elation and fright this news brings.  We headed to Animal Control to meet The Maven and Mrs.S-S.

Expecting the worst, we were met with a "best case scenario". Yes, Stan had been hit, but there appeared to be no broken bones. He was extremely stressed, bloody and sore, but could have been so much worse.

Long story short which included: an overnight stay at the Emergency Vet (because of course, this happened on a Sunday) for 24-hour observation;  the arrival of Mal-Pal (good friend of the Maven who was staying for a week); eventual release to go back home under 24/7 watch; TBL relocating up to LA for the week and conducting Japanese/English classes with Stan's assistance.

Quiet Teaching Assistant

We survived. Stanley was very bruised, had a torn trachea, punctured tongue. Medication was difficult to give because his tongue made it hard to eat, but he eventually could tolerate soft food in which we crushed up his pills. All in all a lucky dog. And lucky us.

Lessons learned:
 always check the gates. LA has an awesome Animal Control team which gives excellent trauma care to the animals brought in who are injured. Because we were able to identify Stan, he got further care to stabilize him before he was transferred (in Mr. T's truck) to the ER Vet. Micro-chipping your pets is a good idea-Stanley would have been ID'd quicker  (he can't wear tags as they fall off over his skinny head). Emergency Vets are really expensive (we knew this, but really? This much?).  Mrs. Smith-Smith is a cool cucumber during a crisis-Thanks Mrs. S-S!

Stan's a great teaching assistant-nice and quiet and
 doesn't climb on my keyboard like my other TA does.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happy Father's Day to Mr. Tennis and All The Other Dad's Out There!

We are going back to the firepits in Huntington Beach tomorrow evening for a Father's Day cookout.
Simple food will be on the menu, but full hearts will be in attendance as we give Mr. T some attention and appreciation.

At the fire pits for The Writer's birthday last December.  

Sunset, hotdogs, fun will ensue
 and hopefully I will have some pictures too!
(Say it! "I'm a poet and don't know it!)

Happy day to all the great Father's in our lives now and in our hearts forever.

Guess who? and her father in 1961.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Lake Tahoe, The Good, The Bad, The Good

And it did! That's where I've been posting during my blog hiatus.

During my blog absence Mr. T and I took a long overdue week off from daily life and headed north to Lake Tahoe. Our first visit to this beautiful area.

We took one of the smaller highways which ended up being a spectacular drive scenery-wise. Timewise it was long-about 8 hours.

Heading out from Orange County with our bicycles loaded on the back of the truck.

It was totally worth the time. We stopped several times along the way and my "go-to California expert", Debby, from  the blog, "Just Breathe"   gave us a great suggestion for a lunch stop.

Take a look at the changing scenery we encountered on that drive:

Beautiful deserts

Open Road, big sky...

One of my favorite sights along the way!

We couldn't figure this one out.  It looked like a fault line.
 Debby, do you know what this is?

Yosemite is over that way about 30 miles.
 We hope to go THERE next summer.

Time for a stretch - it was cold!
We left temps in the 80s and 90s. Had snow by the time we reached Tahoe.

A very strange lake. I thought it was a salt lake,
 but these were calcium formations. Mono Lake.

A professional shot I found on google:


Lunch! A large bakery/deli. Has been there for a very long time.
I had two other people recommend it besides Debby.

Told you! Snow! At the end of April!

Guess who looking a the view of Lake Tahoe from the south end.

Here's a little panorama shot I took.  Please forgive the muttering in the audio...

The first day after we arrived we drove around the entire lake.

This was my favorite part of Lake Tahoe.
 Emerald Bay.

We got a little closer a couple of days later on a boat tour.

We waited for the snow to melt before using our bikes. However we can out to the truck one morning and this is what we found:

Gone! Lock on rack jimmied, steel cable cut.
We called hotel security and the police.  When asked if we had pictures of the bikes, I only had this to email to the police officer. I told him he would get his laugh of the day when he returned to the station and saw the picture I had sent him:

You can see the two black and whites back there in the trailer.
We aren't strange.
So that was the bad: our bikes were gone.
Put a pall on our stay and we weren't happy with hotel management's lack of response.
The good: Our Renter's Insurance covered the cost of the bikes in full!
More good: I wrote a letter to the hotel operations manager and explained how disappointed we were, not with our accomodations, but by the lack of concern showed by the staff we approached many times.
I got a phone call from the operations mgr and she agreed with me that we had not been treated as well as we should have been. They re-imbursed us for 50% of our stay, which we felt was fair.
So, I can now say in good conscience, Harrah's in South Lake Tahoe is a wonderful, reasonably priced (with Groupon!) place to stay. Excellent service, food, convenience. 
But don't leave your bikes in the parking lot!

Now, more good:

A castle-style 'cottage' built in the 1940s .

There it is from the boat. There are tours of it available in the summer months, but you cannot access it by boat. You must hike down. And then of course, hike back.  Maybe by my next visit I will be able to do that - I hope so!

The small turret on the island across from the house where
the 'lady of the house' had tea every afternoon. Accessible by boat only.

Trying to stay warm during our boat ride.

That beautiful, clear, blue water that Lake Tahoe is famous for.

There he is again!

Even I was cold!

A hardy young man and his best friend.

I thought I'd end with some bling. This picture was taken inside an old saloon in Virginia City, Nevada. This gorgeous chandelier is original glass dating back to the late 1800s. Teddy Roosevelt, Doc Holiday, Mark Twain and numerous others sat under it, 'in the day'.

So, there you have it folks: The Good, The Bad and The Good.