The Getty Center

My Prince Charming husband and I went to the Getty Center the other day to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I love this museum. It’s one of the best in the world and for good reason. There is world famous art, eye catching architecture, manicured gardens and deletable dining all in one place, and it’s free to get in! What could be better?

The day we went, there was a Peter Paul Rubens exhibit in town and it was, in a word, spectacular.
In fact it is appropriately named ‘Spectacular Rubens: The Triumph Of The Eucharist.’

I was truly overwhelmed by this exhibit. If you get the free iPod guided tour you learn a great deal about the art and artists. In this case I learned that just one of these tapestries would take four master skilled weavers over eight years to complete!

Here are some images I took of the day. I was not allowed to photograph in the Rubens exhibit so click on the link to see some of the exhibit images. However, take my word for it, the pictures do not do the majesty of this art justice.

You can read my entire review on Tripadvisor, but here I wanted to give you more of a visual reason to go to this wonderful museum.


Getty Center Museum  First view of The GettySoft fuzzy leaves Red Flower Purple flowers at the Getty Spiny and soft Pretty butterfly leaf plant at the Getty Plant that looks like silvery green lame Overlooking the Getty gardens Lovely flowers at the Getty Los Angeles Looking into the tree Look dangerous but they aren't Leaves decorated with Fall Getty Staircase Getty manicured gardens Getty in the Fall Getty from the garden Getty behind the garden Gardens at the Getty Fall leaves in the Getty garden Colors of Fall at the Getty Colorful leaves in the Getty garden Curly purple flower at the Getty Close up of flower maze Butterfly leaves Getty flower tree Getty fountain and maze Getty Center and gardenBoy with frog sculpture at the Getty Grand Getty architecture Getty Museum Getty grounds

James Dean And A Country Drive


On a drive through California’s San Joaquin Valley, on our way to Monterey, my Prince Charming husband and I drove through miles of farmland growing every crop imaginable. Traveling west on Route 46, ahead of us we could see the soft rolling hills that border the western edge of the valley. There were horses, grazing cattle and nut trees as far as the eye could see. We were passing out of the bread basket of California and into the beautiful vineyard country of the central coast. In typical fashion for farming country, we passed several signs inviting us to a country store and gas station offering edible treasures from the surrounding area. My husband read one of them, “Pistachio Almond Bark.” “Let’s go in”, I said, thinking that sounded good. Besides, I love these kinds of country stores with homemade yummies.


Turning into the parking lot, we passed a towering cut out figure of James Dean in rolled up blue jeans and t-shirt, his hand pointing us in the direction we should go. Inside we were greeted by a vast array of plastic bags of flavored nuts; honey almonds, maple cashews, jalapeño pistachios and a hundred others lining the aisles. There were jars of jams, jellies, syrups and other delectables, everything made from the bounty of the land around us.

The walls were covered with pictures, posters and artists renditions of the famed actor James Dean. I initially thought they were there because of the charming 1950’s style diner in the back corner of the store. The real reason though was one my Prince Charming husband was about to discover. As I was busy photographing an interesting truck display in the center of the store that I was so enamored with, my husband interrupted me and called me over to him. Holding up one of the jars of preserves, he showed me the label on the front of all the jars on the numerous shelves. It said ‘Blackwells Corner. James Dean’s Last Stop.’

JD3    JD4 JD5    JD6

Having chosen our yummy selections; a jalapeño honey mustard, two jalapeño preserves, some almonds and pistachios, I asked the young man at the register what it meant by ‘James Dean’s Last Stop’. He informed us that the legendary actor’s tragic auto accident happened about 25 miles up the road, in Cholame, and while passing through he stopped in this very truckstop. Perhaps he wanted a cup of coffee, a sandwich or some of the wonderful nuts, just like we were buying now. It was approaching sunset as we left with our goodies and we continued up the hills toward the spot where the acclaimed actor lost his young life. As we passed the junction of highway 46 and 41 we saw it was marked by a small official looking sign that reads ‘James Dean Memorial Junction’.

On September 30, 1955, James Dean was on his way to an auto rally in Salinas, California with his friend and mechanic, Rolf Wuetherich. Unfortunately they would never make their destination. At the junction of Highway 466 (now State Route 46) and Highway 41, shortly before sunset, a vehicle turning left didn’t see the silver Porsche coming toward him until it was too late. The Porsche rammed into the Ford, the small sports car torn through like tin foil. Sustaining fatal injuries including near decapitation, James Dean, the actor who was astonishingly talented, and achingly beautiful, was gone forever.


About 900 yards from the accident site on Route 46 there’s a tree called ‘The Tree Of Heaven’ where a memorial for the actor still stands today 59 years later. There’s a quote from a dear friend and an epitaph. On the epitaph it says, ‘Death in youth is life that glows eternal.’ Appropriate, since his legacy still lives on. It’s a lovely, simple tribute to a man who made a huge impact in only 24 short years on this earth.

JD9    JD13

James Dean only completed three films in his life as the lead, two of which were released after his death. All three are classics and must-see viewing for movie lovers. He is, to this day, the only actor to earn two Academy Award Oscar nominations after his death, none in his lifetime.

We continued on the road James Dean would have driven, had he lived, thankful to enjoy the pastoral drive through Paso Robles, admiring all the wineries that beautify the landscape. We talked about the actor, films, young lives cut short and, of course, we drove very carefully.


My husband and I, being the classic movie lovers we are, had always heard about how James Dean died but never really knew any details or even where it happened. We were simply driving to our destination for an art show I was participating in. We had no idea that we were about to stumble upon a bit of film history, however sad it was. That is what I love most about traveling. Whether it is around the world or just around the next bend, you never know what amazing things you might discover.

James Dean


I love photographing churches. It’s definitely my favorite subject. Recently I photographed this lovely historic church in downtown San Diego, California. The First Presbyterian Church. The stained glass windows alone I could have sat there and stared at them for hours. How does anyone pay attention to the service when you have beauty like this to be captivated by?




Finding Christmas Spirit (at the Hotel Del of all places)

Christmas time has come to Southern California and I seem to be finding it unsatisfying so far. There is no snow, no frost, no feeling in the air that the season has changed. I’ve recently moved back to San Diego from the Northeast and now I’m wondering if I’ve made the right decision. I’ve lived in Southern California before so I knew what to expect. I also knew what I was missing while in New England: the ocean. I missed the ocean so badly I could taste it. It was constantly on my mind. I know what you’re thinking- “There’s an ocean in New England”. Trust me, it’s not the same. The Pacific offers warm ocean breezes, the pounding surf, wide soft sandy beaches and spectacular sunsets with the possibility of a green flash. Beaches here are very different from those on the other coast. In New England most of the breezes are chilly for much of the year, the beaches are rocky and the sun sets in the wrong place, at least in my eyes.  On the other hand, this holiday, I am unable to take a long drive down a country road and see deer in the snow covered hills. I am not going to be bundled up in my heavy robe, hot chocolate in hand, watching the snow fall out my front window ( I also won‘t be shoveling it). Here, I have snowflakes hanging from my beautifully lit Christmas tree and from the ceiling of my apartment.  Here there is no chance of snow, but I feel like Christmas is still around if I look for it. During this time of year, no matter where I am, I reflect on the meaning of Christmas, what it means to me and decide how to make it special.

Sure, shoppers fill the malls, as they do on both coasts looking for the perfect gift to bestow on the person they love. Families go to the home of a relative and have dinner, watch the games and  let’s face it, some of the relatives fight amongst themselves, because that’s what some families do….right? But I think if you look you can find holiday spirit and perhaps, the meaning of Christmas wherever you are.

The other day, I attended the Hotel Del Coronado’s holiday festival. I wasn’t going there to find the meaning of Christmas. I just wanted to go see the spectacular tree they put in their lobby every year and the fireworks, but I got much more than I bargained for. During this festival there were games and prize booths for the kids, food stands with everything from BBQ to warm, sugar covered donuts and coffee.  There was the wonderful ice skating rink nestled next to the sea and those familiar ocean breezes I moved 3000 miles to feel again.  To kick the night off there were fireworks over the water. A lovely display that was brief, colorful and spectacular with a backdrop of the beautifully lit Hotel Del Coronado behind it. After getting quite wet to photograph them, (I waded into the surf to get the best vantage point) I walked into the hotel to view the decorated trees, which were beautiful, ornately decorated and lovely.  As I strolled past the booths of laughing children playing carnival style family-friendly games, I again contemplated the meaning of Christmas. I suppose it’s only natural at the beginning of the season to ask that question. People reflect on the year and things they’ve done and sometimes berate themselves for the things they didn’t.  I’m certain we’re all too hard on ourselves, and rarely give credit for what we did accomplish.

I walked around with my toes squishing around in my very wet tennis shoes and I realized that everywhere I looked I saw the meaning of Christmas. A father hoisted his child up onto his shoulders to give him a better look, teenage girls laughed together watching boys with all the possibilities of life ahead of them. A mother held her child’s hand pointing out a Santa Clause or snowman on the tree. A smile, holding hands, laughter, these are the true meaning of Christmas and that night they were happening all around me.

Although I miss New England, I realize that Christmas happens everywhere. Whatever form it comes in, bundled up with parkas and scarves or in shorts and flip flops with a sweatshirt, there is one universal way we all celebrate. It’s not about gifts. It’s about being with the people we love. Days and nights filled with laughter, a smile, a hug and just the very act of being together.

I walked home feeling very Christmassy (is that a word?) indeed, singing a Christmas carol to myself, happy that I’d moved back to a place I love, looking forward to Christmas morning with my husband, feeling the same joy as a child. Perhaps I will make cookies later.

Huge Power Outage impacting California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico

Tonight on Coronado Island things were strangely dark.

With the power out everything closed, and as the night wore on the streets got eerily deserted.

We, however, ventured out and took some photographs of this historic night.

But as you can see, even with a long exposure these images were difficult to get. (Hard to take pictures with no light!)

I hope you enjoy what I got.

Architectural Salvage – Art or Junk?

Architectural Salvage – Art or Junk?

Brackets, door knobs, spindels and glass are everywhere. There is peeling paint, brass and wood; distressed, worn and in need of love. Lots of things in here are in need of love, but that’s why they’re here…right? Behind the facade of a tired looking warehouse is a shop giving these wonderful objects a second, or third, chance. After all, someone loved these pieces enough not to trash them. They respected them enough to clean them up a bit and bring them here. The person that buys them is the next hero in the story, taking these pieces home and giving them a new life. This wonderful “junk” deserves another opportunity to serve its purpose, to decorate and to fill a space with beauty.


They say “they don’t make things like they used to”, and that is no more evident than here in this architectural salvage shop. Iron gates molded and shaped into scroll patterns and flowers, ornate in design and beaming with character underneath the rust. Copper switch plates adorned with beautiful patterns and designs, some with detailed flower designs that rival the beauty of any English garden. Stained glass windows with patterns and colors from every spectrum of the rainbow, hidden under layers of grime.

Why? Why don’t you see this work anymore? This is a lost art, at least this type of craftsmanship. The caloused, rough and stained hands that made these pieces cared about what they made. They were concerned about making something that would be functional and beautiful, something that would stand the test of time. Today, we get the big three choices at the home improvement warehouse of switch plates; plain in bright white, off white or (oooh, my favorite) almond. Craftsmanship was replaced with speed, efficiency and the lower-the-cost-the-better point of view. It’s too bad. Although I appreciate these qualities in a car maker, walking into this shop I realize what we’ve been missing. Entering here is a step back in time, to the way things used to be.

In comparison to these craftsmen, my hands have never seen an honest days work. Sitting behind my desk with my computer and phone, being tired at the end of the day, doesn’t compare to the workmanship on display here.

Sure you see artists at arts and crafts shows, but these days it’s all paintings and jewelry. They seem to pale in comparison to me. Especially these days when booths are stocked with items bought wholesale over the internet from China or Vietnam. Not that these products aren’t nice, but why go to the show when I can find that stuff at Walmart?


Well, you won’t find the items in this shop at a discount retail store, that’s for sure. Art should be prized in this country like it is in so many other countries. This store is salvaging art, not just brackets and old doors.


This shop is as American as it gets. “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”, isn’t that what they say? Find that junk and capitalize on it, now that’s the American way. Well they are capitalizing on it and they should be. These people are providing a wonderful service, preserving the art of our past and breathing new life into the work painstakingly created by men long ago.

So get out some sand paper, cleaning cloths and paint buckets. Head down to the Architectural Salvage shop in Little Italy and buy a piece of art for your home that you will treasure and enjoy for many years to come. Trust me, it will hold up better than any almond colored plastic piece at the warehouse store and be so much more beautiful.

If you think about it, your getting a real bargain. We pay hotels huge sums of money for these little details in our room and we’re only staying a night or two. Why not enjoy these luxuries in your own home, everyday.


When I was in the store my friend texted me to ask what I was doing that day. I told her that I was in an architectural salvage store looking around and taking pictures. She retorted by asking if ‘architectural salvage’ was another way of saying I was in a junk yard. I laughed, and I suppose some would agree that it was a junk store, but I’ve never seen such lovely junk and to me I was walking through an art gallery.

U.S. Open Sand Castle Competition

Have you heard? The U.S. Open Sand Castle Competition is this weekend in Imperial Beach, CA.

The Sand Castle dance on Friday, July 22nd kicks everything off in style and benefits the Imperial Beach Boys and Girls Club.

On Saturday, the Kids-N-Kastles competition is held along with a huge street festival filled with music, food and arts n’ crafts.

Sunday, July 24th is the main event. Professionals and amateurs come from all over to carve these magnificent ‘castles’ out of sand. Vying for the title of Master’s Champion, the sand castle building gets going at 9:00 am and goes until 2:00 pm. The castles are judged and the winner announced. These beauties are a sight to behold, but get there early because the tide will wash them away just a few hours later.

Coronado’s Fourth of July

Coronado’s Fourth of July

The Fourth of July on Coronado is quite special. It’s a glimpse into Small Town, USA, rarely seen anymore and always longed for. But it’s still here and you can be part of it, even if only for a day or two. It all starts with a parade.

The parade route, going down Orange Avenue is marked at the end in grand style by the spectacular Hotel del Coronado. This ritual has been going for the last 63 years and it’s still a big hit every year. People are lined up, without an empty space in sight, waiting for hours for the parade to begin. It’s filled with floats, classic cars, clowns and, of course, military bands. After all, this is a military town.

During the parade, it’s interesting to watch the viewers as the military bands and groups walked by. Everyone stood, a true sign of thanks and respect for what these brave men and women do for us everyday.

After the parade, the merriment on the island is just getting started. There are so many things to see and do it’s almost endless. You may be hungry for lunch now, provided you didn’t buy food from people walking by with items for purchase from local restaurants. If you did, then it’s time to head to the Ferry Landing for a concert in the park. Or perhaps, since it’s a warm day in early July, you’d like to head to the beach to cool off in the surf. Again, with the Hotel del Coronado as a backdrop, this picturesque beach is sandy, warm, wonderful and one of the best. Playing in the waves is a nice way to spend a holiday afternoon.

Now that your cooled off and cleaned up, it’s time to head over to Spreckels Park for another concert. Get there early because finding space is reminiscent of the parade route, but completely worth it. On the agenda for today is music with patriotic flair. The music is sure to please this ‘Support the Troops’ crowd, not to mention a great lead in to the festivities later in the day.

Fireworks! Can America’s birthday be celebrated in any other way? What would this day be without those spectacular bombs bursting in air? All the colors, shapes and sparkles filling the sky. The air is filled with “ooohs” and “aaahhhs” from the appreciative spectators who’ve planned for this all year. This years display was one of the largest in the Western US and made only better by the company’s commitment not to pollute the waters. We all enjoyed the display knowing that our pristine bay and view of downtown would be as perfect tomorrow as it was today.

To take in the view in style make sure to visit one of the many Ferry Landing restaurants, all excellent and worth trying. You better be willing to stand in line because everyone wants to partake of the outstanding cuisine here. A great meal only enhances a perfect day.

Regretfully this day will end in this lovely small town. Residents will head back to their homes and visitors to their hotel rooms. We’ll fall asleep to ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’. They may not be sugar plums, but the fireworks will be dancing in our heads. We smile in our slumber looking forward to next year.

Next year the lineup will be similar. The parade, concerts, pristine beach, great restaurants and fireworks display will all be there. It’s perfect, fun and although it doesn’t change much, we that live here look forward to it every year. For those of you that want immerse yourself in this perfection, you should make a reservation for your hotel right now. They fill up fast. People want to feel , just for a little while, like they live in the most perfect little town in the world. I’m glad I do.


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