Today ends my first month working through The List.
It’s great to have accomplished little things I’ve thought about, sometimes for years. I’ve stretched myself in some ways (building a website), and I’ve come up short in others (punctuation). There are a few benefits I didn’t consider, and there are a few drawbacks that have surprised me.
I never thought I’d be smoking a cigar or sitting in a duck blind. I was excited by the gift of a truffle and surprised to speak to a priest while watching stained glass windows being replaced in a 130-year-old church where the flames of the Chicano movement were ignited.
I listened to folk music, identified hermit thrushes and blue herons, baked a Roscon de Reyes, and invited myself to join a National Geographic photographer while he was being interviewed by someone from the Los Angeles Zoo. I’ve talked to strangers, photographed them, and even driven them around in my car.
What I haven’t done a lot of is… sleep, or clean my house. I’ve learned that I can live in a space that isn’t standing at attention. The floors and the laundry can be done in sprints. Somehow the messier my house gets, the more interesting my life becomes, the more interesting I become.
Also, I am increasingly careful not to hinge my efforts on the reach of social media. I remind myself that the purpose of the blog is to participate in little joys, practice my writing, and learn photography. As long as I remember that is how I set the bar, I will feel inspired and pleased to continue. Sharing the journey is just part of the fun.
There is also this fluttering notion that there will now be a record of how I spent some happy hours in 2016. We don’t always remember how we spend years– they sometimes just fall away. I think I might enjoy looking back at my wanderings when I’m old and perhaps not so mobile. Maybe my children will find it entertaining when they look back at these little jaunts someday too.
Well, that’s my reflection for now. As Diana Nyad would say… Onward!
#149, Visit 5 historic homes, 2/5
We were lucky to visit the Lummis house on a day when the docent could spend time with us. He spent over an hour educating us on the fascinating history of Charles Lummis, a man who in 1884, decided to walk from Ohio to Los Angeles before taking a job at the Los Angeles Times.
Charles Fletcher Lummis first gained a national following with widely reprinted, weekly letters that he wrote on this “tramp across the continent.” He went on to become one of the most flamboyant and influential personalities of his day as a book author, magazine editor, preserver of Spanish missions, advisor to President Theodore Roosevelt and a crusader for civil rights for minority groups. Lummis was especially passionate about the mistreatment of American Indians, with whom he lived for several years. He was one of the first white Americans to assail unjust policies towards the original settlers of the region he loved, and his decades of relentless advocacy on that issue ultimately turned the tide. (Charles Lummis website.)
The Lummis Home is a 4,000-square-foot Rustic American Craftsman stone house built in the late 19th century, by Charles Fletcher Lummis himself. He named the house, El Alisal, after the sycamore trees which grew on the property.
He constructed the entire home with his own hands using stones and granite boulders gathered from the Arroyo, concrete, and wood, as well as, the assistance of a few Native American laborers he had trained in carpentry. Taking thirteen years to build, 1896 to 1910, the design of the home is influenced by mission architecture and the dwellings of the Pueblo Indians.
Charles Fletcher Lummis (1859-1928), author, editor, poet, athlete, librarian, historian, activist, photographer, anthropologist, preserver of Spanish missions, and advisor to President Theodore Roosevelt on Indian Policy, is quoted as saying, “Any fool can write a book and most of them are doing it; but it takes brains to build a house.” (LA Dept of Recreation and Parks).
Our docent, Christian Rodriguez, was a passionate and engaging guide through Lummis’ home. He told us about the important people in Lummis’ circle, men like Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Harrison Gray Otis, and others.
I was fascinated to learn about Charles Lummis. He did more in a year that many people do in a lifetime. I am continually shocked at how little I know about the history of Los Angeles, and what an incredibly interesting history it is.
I am eager to pick up a copy of the biography of Charles Lummis’ life, American Character, by Mark Thompson. I am also interested in finding out more about Lummis’ Landmark Club cookbook, Vintage California Cuisine.
There is an annual festival, Lummis Days, that celebrates the legacy of Charles Lummis. This year it going to be held on June 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Find out more at www.lummisday.org.
#21, Try a New Restaurant Each Week, 5/52
We worked up an appetite on our tour of the Lummis House, but luckily for us there was a great place to eat just a few minutes away. The Good Girl Dinette, is also in Highland Park, and it serves fresh Vietnamese food, along with American diner menu items.
I felt like I was sitting in the Anthropologie Instagram feed, as young stylish people were served steaming bowls of pho, and gorgeous bahn mi, and porridge. We ordered some of each.
#66, Visit 8 fabulous boutiques, 1/8
Next door to the Good Girl Dinette, is a great vintage shop called Avalon Vintage. They have an assortment of vintage clothing, concert t-shirts, posters, and a huge assortment of records. We had fun poking through old familiar record jackets of bands like The Rolling Stones and The Partridge Family. There were also obscure records with sound effects, such as fighter jets or steam engine trains.
We saw an open door a few steps away from Avalon Vintage and we were curious what was inside. The building was unique and we wanted to see more. We didn’t see anyone, but we decided to slip inside. There was a flight of stairs and we climbed it, ready to bolt if people started yelling at us.
When we got upstairs, there was still no one to be found. We pushed open a door and saw a lovely room called the Chandelier room. In the hallway, we began to hear voices. I peeked in the other room and asked the people what they were doing in there (!). They said that they were a rental company picking up party supplies from the night before.
I have since learned that we were in the Highland Park Masonic Temple, also known as The Mason Building or The Highlands, a historic three-story brick building on Figueroa Street, designed by Elmore Robinson Jeffrey.
Completed in 1923, the ‘Commercial/Renaissance Revival’ style building served as Lodge 382 of the Free and Accepted Masons for sixty years. The original structure included retail shops on the ground floor with the lodge and banquet hall on the second floor. In 1983, the Masons were forced to vacate the structure when they were unable to afford the cost of retrofitting the building to meet seismic safety requirements. Private developers purchased the building, and the second floor was converted into a banquet facility. The original Lodge Room, with its cherry wood paneling, anaglypta wall coverings, and other details has been restored and preserved and remains in use as a banquet facility. (Wikipedia)
Entering this building was an unexpected surprise. Much of the wood paneling in the chandelier room looked like it was hiding secret compartments behind it. We had fun speculating about what mysteries the masons might have stashed behind those walls.
#211, Listen to a Weekly Podcast, 4/52
This week I listened to the Fugitive Waves podcast by the Kitchen Sisters. Since I was in a Route 66 kind of mood. I listened to “Route 66- The Mother Road, parts 1 & 2“. I am a big fan of the Kitchen Sisters, and am always impressed with both the content and the quality of the productions.
#127, Perform a Weekly Random Act of Kindness, 5/52
This is a picture of Charles, a guy in Highland Park who was a bit down on his luck and asked for a handout. We gave him one and captured his big Memphis, Tennessee smile in the process.
#14, Watch one Annenberg Iris Series Lecture each week, 5/52
I listened to the lecture from Alison Wright, called Face to Face- Portraits of the Human Spirit. This amazing woman has been all over the world taking pictures and meeting people. Her delivery is very plain at first, so you don’t get the full impact of the magnitude of her experiences and accomplishments. However, the more she talks, the more you realize how much she has survived and how important her work has been. She has a book that I am hoping to read soon called, Learning to Breathe: One Woman’s Journey of Spirit and Survival.
#365, Do a Weekly Photo Shoot, 5/52
This week, my photo shoot was in Highland Park. I felt as if I could spend weeks there taking pictures, the place has so much character.
#11, Attend ten museum exhibits, 3/10
While we still had an hour in Highland Park, we ran over to The Southwest Museum to catch the exhibit that Christian, our Lummis House docent, recommended. It is Four Centuries of Pueblo Pottery.
The exhibit features more than 100 pieces of rare ceramics and “traces the dramatic changes that transformed the Pueblo pottery tradition in the era following sixteenth-century Spanish colonization to the present.” (TheAutry.org)
The Southwest Museum has a tunnel entrance which is a short walk from the Metro. There is a long tunnel that is currently displaying some unusual art pieces.
# 119, Attempt a New Recipe Each week, 4/52, 5/52
This was a long post and a busy week!
334 days to go!