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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back in Santa Monica

        Wow! My next to last post was also from Santa Monica but it was Thanksgiving. I guess I was just too busy all winter planning my next summer trip which began last Tuesday when I flew from DC to LAX.  Yes, it's true, I am not driving across this summer and I do miss my car, my cooler, my camping equipment and being able to carry two ukuleles and all the books I desire.
           My itinerary is for 7 weeks in California (although I may sneak up to Eugene, OR for a few days) and the upside of not driving is that I can stay for longer periods of time in one spot. The first stop was Santa Monica, of course, to see my daughter. I used Air B&B to rent a room in a woman's apartment in Venice and that worked out really well.  I could walk to the beach, there were great coffee shops and a very snazzy Whole Foods nearby(with a bar in the middle of it) plus, I could easily catch an express bus over to Santa Monica.  I'm sorry that I did not take pictures of all of the RV's that are parked in the neighborhoods of Venice or of the colorful residents carrying their surfboards around. It is definitely a scene and I was so out of place with no tattoos. Santa Monica is a bit more refined and I did take a shot of the tree-lined street near Maggie's apartment. Rows of trees like this are all over SoCal and I find them fascinating.
           My first outing had been planned for months - the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmer's Market - and I walked there from Venice along the beach. Because it was an overcast day, the beach was relatively empty but there were a lot of people using the bike path which goes a long way in both directions from Venice. Bike rental shops are everywhere.
           I am a big fan of Good Food, a radio show from KCRW in Santa Monica, and I listen to their podcasts usually during Monday dinnertime.   The show always starts with a review of the Farmer's Market and interviews with farmers and chefs so I knew what was going to be available but I was still totally overwhelmed with the bounteous offerings. I could only buy what I could carry back to Venice on the bus and some of it had to provide dinner that evening at Maggie's apartment - which is not an ideal kitchen. I came away with beets, chard, peaches, baby artichokes (purple and green) and apricots, some of which I shared with my hostess, Sofia. Her apartment complex is very typical of SoCal; mostly 2-story stuccos with private courtyards filled with succulents and flowering shrubs. Maggie added rice and lamb skewers to our meal and it was delicious.  Maggie actually volunteers at KCRW and she gave me a tour on Friday morning. Boy, do they have a lot of CD's and vinyl. Maggie is involved with archiving the vinyl to UCLA.

 Willy, my sweet, music-loving husband, grew up in SoCal and attended a lot of events at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. I was in luck that Ian Whitcomb was performing there while I was in town. He had a novelty hit in 1965 entitled You Really Turn Me On. Over the years, Ian has become an expert on all things ukulele, especially music of the 20's. What was great about his gig at McCabe's was that the audience was invited to bring their ukes and play along.  Maggie very gracefully came along with me and she thought it was hilarious. The bonus was that I came away with several pieces of sheet music, mostly of songs that Ian has written such as Ukuleles On the March and Have A Martini. Ian Whitcomb has a weekly radio show that you can podcast through iTunes covering a wide range of popular music from Django to the Stones (he opened for them in '65).

I am now in Laguna Niguel at my nephew's home.  It has become traditional for me to meet my sister here but she became ill just before I flew out and just arrived home from the hospital yesterday.  We are all missing her very much. Simone and Dylan are her grandchildren and they are entertaining me wonderfully. We swim in their pool every day and sometimes go to the ocean, too. Today we are going to see the new Pixar movie - Brave. We also walk their corgie - Sammy - down to a small lake below their house. It is suburban Orange County in all of its glory and conservativeness. You should read the local paper! But, not to worry - Obama is way ahead out here in the West. Bill keeps me informed as to the latest Mitt goofiness. Is there really a movie coming out - Mutt Romney, the Dog?

Here's Maggie with Simone and Dylan. She drove me down on Saturday and spent the day with us. I will take the Pacific Surfliner (Amtrak) back to LA tomorrow morning. It runs from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. I have rented another room through Air B&B which is even closer to Maggie's apartment plus there is a pool in the complex.

Here are some links:    Good Food, KCRW

       Ian Whitcomb's 1965 hit  You Really Turn Me On

     Ian Whitcomb's podcasts

Farewell for now.