Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Pilot's Log Book

My father's Pilot Log stretches across half a century, from his first solo flight in Alabama to his last flight out of Moffett Field.

You and I might start a diary or journal, lose interest, put it down, lose it entirely and start it anew (in a different form) months or years later.  Pilots aren't like that. They keep their log books--always up to date--for a lifetime.

My father had three pilot logs and contained within them are the story of his adult life. Flying, to him, was a love surpassed only by his love for my mother.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Still Crazy After All These Years

My friend Leslie in a photo the date of which we cannot recall.

One of the pleasures of returning to my home town has been new adventures with old friends, including my friend Leslie, who now lives with her husband in nearby Cupertino. We met in the seventh grade and were making trouble together almost immediately. Once I persuaded her to back me up in a talent show, lip-syncing to that great Angels hit "My Boyfriend's Back." 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Where the Buffalo Roam: Catalina Island

There are several hundred head of buffalo grazing the brown hills of Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California.

I meant to say more about Santa Catalina Island--but I got caught up in the exhausting drive home to avoid the expected I-405 traffic catastrophe. I almost forgot. Goes to show how living one's life by the snarls of freeway traffic can be far too distracting.

So, back we go to Catalina ... 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why You Should Boycott Rupert Murdoch

"What do you think the Devil is going to look like if he's around? Nobody is going to be taken in if he has a long, red, pointy tail. No. I'm semi-serious here. He will look attractive and he will be nice and helpful and he will never do an evil thing ... he will just bit by bit lower standards where they are important. Just coax along flash over substance. Just a tiny bit. And he will talk about all of us really being salesmen. And he'll get all the great women."                                                                                                     From Broadcast News: screenplay by James L. Brooks
The growing and very dirty scandal in Great Britain involving Rupert Murdoch and phone hacking has revealed what Murdoch really thinks about democracy. He thinks it is for sale.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

The Big Max pumpkin vines threaten to overtake the entire garden plot:  but I must guard the squash with care as the critters are very fond of them.

Northern California is having a mild summer, so the tomatoes are taking their time ripening.  At least mine are. This is my first vegetable garden in ... can't remember. But everybody in Northern California does it--to distinguish ourselves from Southern California denizens who put swimming pools in both their front and back yards.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Robin Recommends Aristeia Needlepoint LA

Aristeia Needlepoint on the border of Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

I was on San Vincente Boulevard, just cruising along toward a friend's home in Santa Monica, when my eyeballs were irresistibly drawn to the lovely sign identifying Aristeia Needlepoint. It is right at San Vincente and 26th in the cozy little complex called The Brentwood Country Store.

My car couldn't help itself. It just turned onto 26th and took me there. Parking is free with a validation at the store.  This is the closest thing to heaven you can find in Los Angeles.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Escape From LA: Avoiding Carmageddon

My visit to LA began as an ordinary vacation--driving down from Northern California and join friends on a trip to Catalina Island. But it turned out to be a visit that coincided with the closing of the 405 Freeway--thus, the trip followed by my zoom home to Escape From LA ...
The view from the loggia of Banning House Lodge, Two Harbors, Catalina Island.

I just returned from a visit to Southern California where I have several friends forced to live in that dangerous nexus of sumptuous homes, a strong economy, movie stars, over population, snarled traffic, chronic neighborhood burglarizing, gang tagging, all black vehicles, and a socialist government in Santa Monica.

I received my Masters Degree from UCLA and used to love Los Angeles, so it is okay for me to say this: people who live there now have no idea how much pain they are in. They are so used to bad, they don't know how good good feels.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Childhood Love That Lasts a Lifetime

I love this photo of my friend Keith Brown, my sister Kimberly, me, and our other close friend Gene at the San Francisco Zoo.  It was for one of our birthdays, and we're all dressed up. Keith, who was gone from us just a few years later, is smiling and in motion, frozen for all time at a happy moment.

Thanks to the Internet, I have had recent, unexpected news of my childhood friend Keith Brown and his family.

A woman doing research on her own father was searching the Inernet and found my story about Keith and his father Exline "Brownie" Brown--a World War II flyer who became a well-loved pilot for Pacific Southwest Airlines ("The World's Friendliest Airline"). She had lots of information to share.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Strange Story of the Lost Umbrellas

One of the lost umbrellas looked like this one.  Isn't the inside beautiful?  They are not made in China, oddly enough.

Some years ago, I saw something in a decorating magazine, or in an advertisement--it is enough years ago that I can't remember where exactly--that I liked so much I began looking for something like it on the Internet.

It was an old-fashioned waxed umbrella or parasol from Asia, and I thought it might be a handy thing to have in Florida, what with all that sun.  Or it might be just a lovely object d'art to use in an empty corner of the house. I found a little company on the Internet that sold them, ordered a couple for me, and sent a couple to my friend Holly, a chic retiree who lives in South Florida and who loves beautiful things.  She needed a lift at the time. Or a waxed umbrella, as it were.

Friday, July 8, 2011

It Is So Palo Alto! Electric Vehicle Charging Station at Ritzy Shopping Center

I made a run to Stanford Shopping Center early this morning for a quick visit to the hairdresser, and as I pulled into the covered parking I got quite a jolt.  Well, I didn't get the jolt, but if I'd had the right car, it could have.

There was an electric vehicle charging station in the lot with three spots exclusively set aside for electric vehicles. And there was a plug and everything.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Friend and Her News Blackout: Or, One Woman Can Be an Island--A Guest Post

Bucolic Bainbridge Island, Washington State, where people go to impose news blackouts on themselves and eat organic food and get lots of exercise. A ferry ride from Seattle, it is, as they say, a world away.

My friend since kindergarden at Loyola School in Los Altos, California, Lisa Gutt Arnold now lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington, working in Seattle at a foundation.  When she faced family illnesses, the loss of her brother-in-law and various other personal challenges, she decided to take at least one stress out of her life--she imposed a news blackout on herself.  Needless to say, her friend Robin, the news junkie, was horrified! News is mother's milk to Robin. (A Lady Macbeth mother, but nevertheless.) Not able to stir Lisa from her firm resolve to enjoy her life sans news, I asked her to write a guest piece for Robin Chapman News, about what it was like. Here is her offering:

My News Blackout
Lisa Gutt Arnold
"Once or twice a week Robin expresses an irresistible urge to share a news flash with me, full knowing that I am on a self-imposed news embargo. Not only is she playing devil’s advocate here, but I suspect that for her life without news is not life at all; rather it is the universe before creation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Meandering Thoughts About a Santa Catalina Island Journey

Catalina's Avalon Bay.
"Twenty-six miles across the sea
Santa Catalina is waiting for me ..."
Words and music by the Four Preps

I think I've just about talked my college roommate, Phyllis, into going to Catalina Island with me for a couple of days.  Phyllis grew up in Southern California and now lives with her lawyer husband in Santa Monica, not far from where we had our first apartment when I was a graduate student at UCLA.  But she's never been to Catalina. Water journeys don't always agree with her.

I too grew up in California, though in the North, and have never been to Catalina. I've never had a motion sickness problem of any kind, though I suppose if I had ever flown with the Blue Angels ... it might have happened then.  Reporters I know say that is the worst. G forces and upsidedownness usually lead to upchuckness. But I digress.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

How Did George Washington Celebrate the Fourth? (Hint: He Didn't Bore His Friends.)

A silhouette, made of George Washington near the end of his life, available in the George Washington papers in the Library of Congress.

On a weekend we spend cruising air conditioned malls, eating greasy food, and driving our gas guzzlers to grandma's house, I thought it might be interesting to revisit the diaries of George Washington, to see how this wise farmer, general, and first President of the United States celebrated America's Independence. I had discovered them once before for a book I was writing on American holidays.

Washington kept diaries all his life. With the blessings of the Internet, these diaries are now available to all of us through the Library of Congress.

Friday, July 1, 2011

San Francisco's Glorious Telegraph Hill and a Tale of New Life in Stitchery

Looking down from Telegraph Hill toward the Golden Gate.  The bridge is off in that cloud bank, upper right.

Linda Mendenhall, of Old World Designs in Menlo Park, California, arranged for a group of her stitchery customers--and who am I to pass up a chance to go to SF and not have to drive!--to take a field trip to San Francisco on Thursday.  It was all so we could meet Maggie Thompson and Gail Downing, two entrepreneurs who shared friendship, loss, and a happy new direction when they started a needlepoint business together.