Home at last

Mixup leaving LA (scheduled the ticket for 11 and remembered it as 11 though the time changed to 9 a.m.--and didnt reconfirm....bad me) so we got off later and then had to spend the night in Philadelphia versus our other choice, the red eye (no thanks). So we killed an hour or two at the Theme Building--the former air traffic control building now restaurant. After a whole retro week of seventies, sixties and otherwise, it was dead on and very interesting. The restoration looks pretty bang up--so hopefully we will see a "new and improved the next visit. The next visit Rob proclaims must be soon as I just found out that I got 4 pieces in the Society of Illustrators West Coast show. Those pieces are the newest raven, the boston terrier with the green background, the Glimmerglass wine labels and the willow head that just got into Society of Illustrators NYC.

We spent the night last night in Philadelphia at a Four Points by Sheraton--having a drink at Sheraton's newest, a Loft hotel (the commercialization of the Boutique Hotel approach we just experienced at the Palomar (Kimpton) and the Standard Hotel (Downtown). This morning we ran the gauntlet at Phl with the bagcheckitis, and then the gate to Gate F complete with the vomit inducing busride to the remote gate (which we tried to walk to and was chided as we would have to go through security yet another time). R calmly chalked it up to just being Philadelphia. I was losing it.

Now back to the previous day. We spent the bulk of New Years Eve Day in Pasadena after breakfasting on sushi at another one of those fun Famima stores. We jumped in the car and from downtown was in Pasadena in about thirty minutes. It was a perfect thing to do. The Huntington has wonderful galleries (if you like english painting> a la Gainsborough, Reynolds, Romney and the like you are in for a treat). Their best known paintings are Pinkie and Blue Boy. We got a dose of that which was amusing as I could make K and A laugh talking about the paintings and doing a little comparative discussion about compostion, approach etc. And, they actually were paying attention! We looked at drapery, composition, color, brushwork and tightness of the painting, what the light was doing and how it was telling us something (or was it). It was great.

K and I found ourselves in heaven first seeing cartoons and then the final Bourne-Jones stained glass window for the family chapel (created by the William Morris Studio) to find at the top of the stairs a gallery with great examples from Walter Crane (Peacock), William Morris (fabrics including the Strawberry Thief) and some tile examples of the same period and an amazing library case of the same style/thinking. We had to be dragged out. (I was threatening to kick and scream but the gardens are so great). We took in a small but very dense show about the Green and Green brothers architecture with plans, line drawings for details and decoration combined with custom decorative arts and furniture created for these houses. I found the work (15 years later) a bit more ponderous than before and I wasn't as delighted as the first time.

Then to the Children's Garden at the Huntington. My goodness! They spent a ton of money.  But as you know, you can spend a ton of money and have something stupid or spend a ton of money and have magic. The Huntington Children's garden is absolutely sublime as it is all very high level, very respectful of children and how they play--not the usual crappiness  that many of these places have where it is more about adults thinking about what kids would like versus what they really like. The water elements are designed among and through the garden with mazes, full sized topiary buildings (with even furniture elements being topiary) complete with growy windowboxes, doors, windows, and surrounded by other tiny topiary. Every touch is delicate from masses of blue plants, to these wonderful little pots of all heights filled with water and some with sculptural koi inside them. These pots were placed strategically by a hole in the ground that would shoot a single bullet of water into the air which would land with a plop into the vessel next to them. So there were littles playing in the water, surprised by the little water shot...or littles trying to catch the water.... There was a room made of hedges that surrounded a semi circle of black columns which intermittantly would fill with mist that K and A likened to being in a cloud. Now, K and A are 16 and 15, cynical, wisenheimer kids who were as charmed as the 4 year olds (maybe even more so)-- There were all sorts of fruit and flowers from roses and rosemary to pomegranates, lemons and oranges. And the world of the chlldren's garden was a new day of living in and with nature for all ages. Truly, we could have spent the day experiencing the mist, the little popping pools, the topiary and the vibrating fountain that made our fingers tingle. We could have touched the succulents, engaged the silly fat bottomed palms, and the feathery grassy enclosures that changes the world and the way you see it. The traditional, beaux arts/ versailles inspired gardens are awe inspiring--but this world for the young inspires awe in the simple and magical.

The (new for us) expanded Japanese gardens are spectacular with bridges and ponds filled with enormous, happy koi with graceful, "real thing" japanese buildings and stone sculpture. The snacks (japanese dumplings, japanese candy and dried squid, and no end to interesting teas) are sold from a graceful wooden japanese tea building that was awesome in it's design, producttion and the lovely courtyards (paved with stones on end much like patterns you make with beans). These were some small selections from all the wonderful things we saw--and the collection of reference builds! I am thinking the garden of eden in context to all of this. We had to leave around 3 to have lunch (at the"Best" according to Team Cassetti)-- The fabulous In and Out Burger!

They have a simple menu: Hamburgers, Cheeseburgers, something called a double double, fresh made french fries, shakes and sodas. Thats it. The burgers are just the right size, not the ginormous ones that the big boys put out--and they are sublime. A waxes romantic as these things are devoured. We love the foood down to how the sandwiches are wrapped (and at the restaurant served on these cute plastic trays). People were buying paper boxes of these things with big bags of the fries hustling out the door to get the food to their friends as fast as possible. We always ask ourselves why we go anywhere else because these burgers are the top of the culinary heap (though now that I am shack centric that may change!).

Then, off to Palos Verdes to the High School to meet " the twins",, Devon and Jenna who wanted to do a glass demonstration for us and show off their wonderful teacher and the shop they have. Amazing all the way around. I want to go to High School with these driven sisters who are funny, opinionated and quite skilled. If this is the future, bring it on!!

Pizza and family New Years Eve with me being in bed around 10. Couldn't keep my eyes open--with the youngers hanging with Gloria and Jenna until a bit later. It was a wonderful day.