Friday, February 22, 2008

Parking and Teaching - Thursday 2/21/2008

The door leading from the parking lot into India Spice's deli. If I had noticed that I was walking through a parking lot, I might have moved my car off the street.

By the time I came out a parking officer was giving me a ticket. $40. Kind of offset the delicious $3.99 lunch, pricewise.

Poor parking officer. I wasn't nasty in the least. I hadn't even thought about putting money in the meter, I was so full of positive fog when I arrived. He couldn't appreciate my being friendly at all.

I will never become a parking officer. How awful to have to shut yourself down like that.

I was on my way to substitute teach another writing class at a nearby equestrian center. It went really well. I hadn't met the girls before. They were amazing.

I actually had fun this time. Karin, who teaches them riding, etc., had them take a bunch of photos last week to illustrate various things regarding how people see them and how they see themselves, and then this week I had them make little books out of the photos and they did little captions for them.

Wow, was it interesting! They’re so clever, these 12 year olds. One of the questions was “How do you look when you no one can see you?” They work in pairs, so they can take photos of each other. One girl said she was sleeping when she was alone, so her photo was of her with her head down on the table on her crossed arms with her hoodie pulled up over her head. Another said no one could see her when she was in the bathroom, and her photo was of the LADIES restroom sign. Made me laugh. One said no one could see her when she was nude, and she had a photo of herself wrapping her zippered sweatshirt tightly around her body and peeking out. :)

I'm looking forward to having my own class for 8 weeks, starting in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Joy & Consternation - Wednesday 2/20/2008

I'd say this photo just about sums up the joy of diners before dawn.

Because of the leaded beveled glass windows and the Tiffany style light fixtures at Sitton's, there's a lot of interesting light in here.

I had a better experience here today than last week. Compared the short stack of pancakes with Twain's and they were good...a little denser and smaller, maybe. Learned that my server last time and this time is very new, hence her hesitation about my questions.

Found out from another waitress that Nick, to whom many of the photos on the wall are dedicated, is "Papa Nick" and that he owns this whole block of Magnolia Boulevard. I think she said that it was opened in 1958.

Noticed this guy down from the right side of the front door. He seems to be pleased with the rain pouring down this morning.

But perhaps all is not as it seems! It wasn't until I loaded it onto this blog that I saw the sinister implications of this shot.

His left arm is chained to that post. Is there a hint of desperation lurking behind his smile?

And look! Not Bob is chained up too! And they took away his cigarette. His only joy in life may have been that cigarette. (sniffle)

Weird that I happened to get the chain in this shot, too, without noticing it.

I'm going to keep my eye on this place, let me tell you. There's a definite Twilight Zone vibe going on out front.

[Note to family: If I disappear on my way to work one morning, check here for a new smiling woman statue with a notebook tucked into her apron.]

Cool Thing: This interview with Hetta Laurena Carter, who picnicked below the Saint Francis Dam a few days before it collapsed, causing the U.S.'s second largest man-made disaster is really fascinating. Hydra, Mom and I have been to this site several times over the past decade or so.

The Twain's Shall Meet - Tuesday 2/19/2009

I had to drop off books at the library this morning on my way into work (one of my two days this week) and decided to find out whether Twains, on the corner of Ventura and Coldwater in Studio City, was open all night. Yes, indeed.

It was a little odd at first. When I walked in a man in a black shirt and pants sitting at one counter looked up and nodded at me. An elderly lady sat at the other counter, looking a little disheveled. There were a couple of retired guys in a booth, talking. I took a booth inside the front window.

It turned out that the man in black was a waiter. He asked the elderly woman to write a check for my order. I thought, huh, maybe she's the owner and she's very controlling. Turned out she was a waitress!

The retired guys said their farewells and left, but one of them came back a few minutes later and sat at the counter nearest me. "The strangest thing just happened," he said to the waitress, "This old couple just asked if they could sleep in my car!"

"Where? Right out here?"

"Right out here."

He'd turned so I could see his face a little and I reacted right along with them. "Excuse me," I said, "But that is really strange."

He nodded, "Just when you think you've seen it all."

We ended up chatting for about twenty minutes. Turns out Twain's was a Denny's until 1974. Made sense, with the beamed ceilings and the rock walls. Chuck, as I later learned was his name, told me that Ellie the waitress is 81.

Ellie told me she'd been working at Twain's since she came to L.A. in 1974 or '75. She bought her house in Encino in 1975. This came out because she was bemoaning the fact that people don't plan for their old age.

When she asked Chuck how old the "old couple" were, he thought for a second and said, "Early sixties I guess." I could see him realizing that the old folks were younger than him. Funny how that happens.

Chuck's dad hitchhiked out here in the 1920s when the Valley was hardly populated and Hollywood Boulevard was lined with orange trees. I'd said to Chuck that he sounded like he was from the cultured Northeast. His dad had moved his family from Brooklyn to L.A. when he was three years old. They moved to the valley around the time the 5 freeway was being built, I think he said.

I know a little bit about this stuff because I am generally interested in local history, and because I worked as a transcriber in the Oral History Program at UCLA as a student. One of the oral histories I worked on had to do with the origins of the freeway system. And really, if you look into 20th Century L.A. history, it has to include the freeways.

As I left, I introduced myself to Chuck and found out his name. He asked if I was done with the paper I was leaving on the table. You bet. I'd just wanted to find out about tomorrow's lunar eclipse.

Suffice it to say, that Twains was a really nice place to be on Tuesday morning. The pancakes were nicely spongy, just like diner pancakes should be, and served with whipped butter that soaked into the short stack in exactly the way it should.

Can I just say, I love early morning diner people?

Guitar Man - Monday 2/18/2008

It looks like it was foggy while I waited in the car for Hydra to pick up some new strings for the classical guitar he bid on and won at the Round-up auction yesterday. Actually, the flash went off unintentionally (well, I guess I can't speak for the flash's intentions, but I was surprised) and this was the effect.

We looked the guitar up online and besides sounding lovely, it seems to be a very good one made by a renowned L.A. luthier.

Hydra, should I say what kind??

Soapbox: What has the Congress been doing, having hearings on drug and steroid use in sports? Don't we have a war going on? Don't we have plenty of other things that they are actually supposed to be doing? Drug and steroid use is a matter better left to law enforcement and the leagues themselves. If the leagues aren't paying enough attention, doesn't it fall to law enforcement rather than Congress!?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Folkies - Sunday 2/18/2008

This is just an example of the kind of riff raff I am likely to be hanging out with on any given Sunday. Hydra and I have been members of Songmakers for about ten years now. Getting involved with them is one of the best things we've ever done.

These are the folks we go camping with 4-5 times a year. We have the opportunity to make music with 30-40 of the approximately 500 members every weekend. They're a talented, supportive, smart, caring, fun group. It's all about keeping homemade music alive, and having fun doing it.

Fooling around with my camera outside the church hall where we met for the annual Round-up, during which board members are elected, each hoot (from all around SoCal) plays a song or two, and we have a potluck.

Cool Thing: The way Stephen Colbert welcomed his writers back to the fold. (Thanks Toronto, for the tip!)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Flowers! - Saturday 2/16/2007

Still fresh from Valentine's day.

So much is going on right now. I'm launching a new writer's blog called Writer Friendly. Check it out! Contribute info!