Archive for March, 2010

Union Station, Los Angeles

On February 6, 2010, I took this photo of Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.  My friend Dave and his wife Debbie were visiting from Canada so Scott led us on a walking tour of our neighbourhood.  We waded through the crowds along Broadway towards the Grand Central Market for shrimp ceviche tostadas:  the breakfast of champions.  Sated, we carried on towards dim sum in Chinatown.  Along the way, we decided to wander through the Walt Disney Concert Hall as its shiny titanium exterior drew us from a block away.  The hall’s interior is warm and inviting and it’s a shame that LA Philharmonic tickets are so expensive.  We’ve been spoiled by the Toronto Symphony’s tsoundcheck program, which enables young music lovers to attend concerts for as little as $12.

We decided to take the Metrolink from Chinatown to Union Station as the terminal is a beautiful historic landmark.  There were several photo shoots underway inside the station:  brides kissing grooms; models posing; and tourists admiring the architecture.  I stood behind a velvet rope and shot this empty wing as it was being transformed into a ballroom.  Debbie remembered seeing several bridal parties on campus last summer when she and Dave had visited us at Stanford.  I wonder where our next home will be and look forward to Dave and Debbie visiting us there.

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Chino Hills, San Bernadino Mountains

I took this snapshot of Chino Hills in the foreground and the San Bernadino Mountains in the background as we hiked the Telegraph Canyon Trail in Chino Hills State Park yesterday.  I didn’t think my camera would do justice to the snowy peaks so I took only one photo and kept walking.  It was a hot and sunny afternoon so I didn’t linger in any one spot too long.  On the trail was a large sign warning us of mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes that kept me on track as well.

Scott packed a lovely lunch for us to eat before we hit the trail:  a baguette, prosciutto, avocadoes, hummus, Greaves raspberry jam, Lindt Gaufrette, strawberries, and mango smoothies.  It was a parade of my favourite foods marching across the picnic table straight into my stomach!  I now realize that we fine-tuned our al fresco dining skills in Palo Alto last year, where we made regular use of our Coleman cooler chilly bin for potluck birthdays, weddings, and weekends.  In Canada, eating outside is a rare treat; in California, it’s an everyday pleasure.

Neptune’s Net, Malibu

My German friend Arne convinced me to mount my camera to his tripod before I took this photo on my birthday in 2009.  We decided to drive up the coast to watch the sunset in Malibu after an afternoon of ogling antiquities at the Getty Villa.  Scott sat on a rock and ate crab cakes while Arne and I took pictures of the sun disappearing into the ocean.  Once it was dark, we ran across the highway to Neptune’s Net for supper. 

Neptune’s Net has great reviews for its fresh seafood.  I was the only one who insisted on washing my hands before digging into my shrimp cocktail.  The sign next to the portable hand washing station behind the restaurant stated that the wash water wasn’t potable, but I wasn’t too concerned:  I wasn’t drinking the water, just cleaning my hands.  I don’t know if it was the prawns or the hand washing, but I got food poisoning later on that night.  Fortunately, it was after midnight and no longer my birthday, so it wasn’t like my birthday itself was spoiled.

Arne has since returned to Germany.  When he left, he gave us a tray on which he had painted all the places we had visited together.  I gave him a framed print of this photo to hang in his new apartment.  I hope he and his girlfriend Bianka think of me and Scott when they look at the print.

Verity

“Believe me, if we want art to begin at home, as it must, we must clear our houses of troublesome superfluities that are for ever in our way:  conventional comforts that are no real comforts, and do but make work for servants and doctors:  if you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: 

‘HAVE NOTHING IN YOUR HOUSES THAT YOU DO NOT KNOW TO BE USEFUL OR BELIEVE TO BE BEAUTIFUL.’

And if we apply this rule strictly, we shall in the first place show the builders and such-like servants of the public what we really want, we shall create a demand for real art, as the phrase goes; and in the second place, we shall surely have more money to pay for decent houses.” ~ William Morris, “Hopes and Fears for Art

Until I read “Hopes and Fears for Art”, I assumed that William Morris was advising us IN CAPITALS to maintain a functional and stylish home.  This, in itself, is a worthy endeavour.  Then I realized his vision was more profound:  he’s suggesting that mindless consumption dampens creativity.  Why should we bother to invent or create anything new or better if the market enables us to settle for something immediately available yet mediocre?  He’s challenging us to be more discriminating in our taste as consumers.  By doing so, we would send a strong signal to the market that we are willing to sacrifice quantity in favour of quality, and distinguish between our needs and our wants.

Tulip, Stanford

I took this photo on May 4, 2009 during my friend Lisa’s visit to the Bay Area.  We walked around the grounds of Stanford Medical Center, taking photos of the flower beds while our husbands went for a beer at CoHo Tresidder.  We were amazed at how flowers in California are gargantuan compared to flowers back home in Canada.  We were really happy to discover that even though we haven’t lived in the same city since 2003, we continue to cultivate similar interests independently. 

I met Lisa while we were both training for our first half marathon.  We’ve run seven races together.  Through snow, rain, wind, and sun…  earning our reward of chili fries, Korean BBQ, Indian butter chicken, or pancakes…  lots of great talks over great meals.  I miss her.  It’s time to give her a call.

Verity

“Your work should be an act of love, not a marriage of convenience.” ~ Haruki Murakami, “The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day

Hello World!

Hello, my name is Helsa and I’m learning how to build a blog.  This site is a work in progress, like me.  I know most people launch their blogs only after they’ve spent hours crafting personal mission statements, target audience profiles, writing entries, choosing themes, and fonts, etc.  After all, blogs burnish one’s personal brand, n’est-ce pas? 

Friends concerned about ROI are advising me to upload my photos pronto and sell prints online, so that I can retire on the proceeds of my snapshots by the end of the fiscal year.  Well, I’m more into the journey than the destination.  If you’re a kindred spirit, then I hope you’ll check in occasionally to remind yourself of what we both know is true:  that the world’s a beautiful place full of interesting people, places, and things.  In this corner of the web, you’ll find my photos of them.

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