Category Archives: southern california

chinatown ~ los angeles

A few weeks ago we decided to go to Chinatown on the spur of the moment, catch up with Steve and Karina (they rode the train down to L.A. very early that morning) and have lunch with them. It turned out to be a fun few hours shopping and eating.

First stop was Phillipe’s, home of the original French Dip sandwich. We were going to eat there, but the lines were very long and Steve had found a barbecue place that sounded magnificent, so we opted to change our minds and go to Spring Street Smokehouse instead. Good choice. It was wonderful.

Since we had an hour before the Smokehouse opened, we took a stroll through Chinatown first, window shopped and bought cherries.

Karina and I fell in love with the pretty hats in front of almost every store, so she bought one for herself… and one for me! Thanks again, Karina. πŸ™‚

Before we knew it, it was time for lunch, but before we headed over to the Smokehouse we stopped at the double dragon entrance to Chinatown for a couple of photos.

Me and Mike:

and Steve and Karina:

I leave you with one final photo… brother Steve wearing Karina’s hat. Isn’t he just so… so… cute?

hollywood sign

One day we decided to play tourist and look at a local place from a different perspective, so… we took a tour of the Hollywood sign. The tour we went on takes you as close as you can legally get to the sign, which is still quite a ways away, but it was a nice day and the tour was half price. What more could we ask for?

The ride up there was on a very narrow and winding road… and then we had to go back down the other side. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride doesn’t even come close to our ride in the tour bus. On the way back down to Hollywood we passed this very cool garage door:

We also zipped by the Capitol Records building, a Hollywood icon, and somehow managed to get a decent photo of it:

We had fun playing tourist and will definitely do it again sometime.

santa barbara farmers market

Last Saturday we headed over to Santa Barbara to go to the farmers market to find out if it was as great as I’d heard/read. It was a beautiful day for the two hour drive past small towns, fields of strawberries and groves of oranges and lemons.

We bought strawberries, apple cider, a pummelo and two strawberry plants. Even though there were a lot more vendors than our local farmers market, I like ours better because there are benches and little tables where you can sit and visit with a friend or eat something you’ve bought from a vendor. Or people watch, my favorite thing to do. Santa Barbara has no prepared food vendors (such as bbq, sausages, gyros) and no place to sit… and it doesn’t have that relaxing, I-want-to-hang-around-here-for-a-while vibe. So we didn’t. Hang around, that is.

We left the farmers market and headed for a pizza place that came highly recommended by yelpers (people who post reviews on and sounded like the perfect place to have lunch. It was.

Olio Pizzeria makes just about the best pizza I’ve ever had. Pizza from any mom & pop place in New York City is still the best, but this comes within a hair of being just as good. The pizza pictured above is the umbra pizza (truffles and mushrooms). We also got the quattro formaggi pizza (four cheese). Both were fantastic. We also had squid ink calamari for an appetizer (it’s black and looks like it was burned up, but it was so good) and chocolate hazelnut panna cotta (chocolate pudding) for dessert . The next trip to Santa Barbara will be to have lunch at Olio’s again.

Olio’s pizza makers: top left, twirling the dough in the air (he never missed); top right, a smile for the camera in between twirling pizza dough; lower photo, pulling the pizza out of the pizza oven. These two guys kept us entertained while we waited for our pizza.

On the way home we stopped at several roadside fruit stands and bought more strawberries, some avocados and a bag of oranges. A pretty good – and healthy – haul and a wonderful day overall.

Christopher Crisp Uncovered

December 10 was a warm & sunny day when we headed down to Inglewood Park Cemetery to visit the graves of my brother, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends. This year was a bit different from past years, though, because we had an additional mission. Before we left the house I logged onto Find A Grave to see if anyone had a photo request posted. Several were there, including one from October, which is unusual since requests at this cemetery are usually claimed within a few days. Not so with this one. We soon found out why.

Christopher Crisp was one of three people we were going to hunt for. The first two were easy to find. Little did we know it would take an hour and a half of cemetery tromping to find the third one. Mr. Crisp was born in England, so we started using our best English accents (Mike’s is good, mine not so much) when speaking to each other (hey, Mike started it!), which made the search more fun.

After scouring the La Ramada section for an hour I decided it was time to visit the office and ask for help. We were starving and parched, but weren’t willing to give up yet. The young lady in the office offered to send a customer rep out to help us find the grave. Louis joined us a short while later and ended up going way beyond any expectations to help us find the grave. Perhaps he was caught up in finding the missing headstone, too.

After spending about 10-15 minutes checking markers for a grave number close to Mr. Crisp’s without success, Louis headed to the front office to pick up a list of graves in the same row as Mr. Crisp’s. One of the graves on the list was quickly found, which gave Louis a place to start.

Louis started poking his shovel in the grass where the headstone should have been. Clunk! Hmmm, could that be it??? He jabbed the ground a few inches over and… clunk!… another hit. Yep, it was indeed a headstone. The excitement mounted as he lifted the blanket of sod and there was… Mr. O’Hara. Ok, then, it MUST be the next one over. Again, Louis gave the ground a jab and – clunk! – a possible headstone. A few inches over and… another clunk! Could THIS be Mr. Crisp?

UPPER LEFT: Louis starts the search; UPPER RIGHT: lifting sod; LOWER PHOTO: oops, wrong headstone – let’s try the next one over

Once again, Louis lifted a blanket of sod, but before he had it completely lifted I could see CHRISTOPHER and 1847 imbedded in the sod. We had found Mr. Crisp!

CHRISTOPHER 1847 in the sod

CRISP embedded in the sod

Hello Mr. Crisp!

A little cleanup reveals a headstone in perfect condition. There isn’t a chip, crack or scratch to be found. Even Louis was impressed.

Two headstones uncovered… Mr. Crisp and Mr. O’Hara

Mike starts cleaning Mr. Crisp’s headstone….

…and Louis steps in to help. He’s got the BIG broom and a gallon of water.


We’ve decided to adopt Mr. Crisp as our honorary great-grandfather and will be trimming, cleaning and decorating his grave each Christmas along with our family members’ graves at Inglewood Park; his grave will never become overgrown again as long as we’re around. Graving has provided adventures for us before, but this is one that will stand out in our memories. We’ll never forget the fun we had searching for – and the thrill of finding – a long-forgotten headstone.

* * *

We’ve been reading all the Crisp Point Light Historical Society info and now plan to go see it in person one day. It’s amazing how beautifully the lighthouse has been restored. I just wish there was more info – and a photo! – of Mr. Crisp somewhere.

Here are a couple of photos of Mr. Crisp’s grave for 2013. We brought along a little lighthouse and aΒ light that we thought looked like it was part of a lighthouse (use your imagination). We never got to see the light at night, but hopefully Mr. Crisp enjoyed it.

Christopher Crisp gravesite 2013

Christopher's grave lighthouse 2013

four aces

If you watch NCIS, among thousands of other TV shows, movies and commercials, you might recognize this place:

The Four Aces set is one of many filming spots out here in our desert, one of the interesting things that makes it worth putting up with sand, wind, too much heat, too much cold, flash floods and living on a major fault line.

animal acres

Last September (yes, I know it took a while to finish this and get it posted) we went to Animal Acres for a tour of the facility in Acton that houses rescued farmed animals. “We” is me, Mike, Jeff, Vanessa, Steve, Karina, Leslie and Steven… our whole little family.

We were greeted by chickens, roosters and turkeys. The one on the left is possibly Heather, the chicken Jeff & Vanessa adopted as a birthday gift for me (there are two chickens that look almost identical, but I decided this must be Heather since she came over to me).

We lucked out the day we went… Animal Acres had recently rescued a calf and it was his feeding time while we were there. He’s the cutest little thing you ever saw!

This guy looked like he’d had enough of people for a while.

I was sure this adorable donkey wanted me to pet him, but was warned that he liked to bite. Sorry, sweetie, you’ll have to nip at someone else.

This little piggie was hungry…

this little piggie was hot and trying to cool off. (It was over 100 degrees the day we went.)

This handsome fellow just wanted someone to talk to him. We obliged.

So there’s our tour of Animal Acres in a nutshell. Despite the heat, it was a fun and informative tour, which we all enjoyed.

happy 100th birthday, president reagan

I never had the good fortune to personally take photos of Ronald Reagan, but we’ve visited the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California a few times, and here are some of the photos we took on those visits.

This piece of the Berlin Wall was given to President Reagan by the Berlin Wall Commemorative Group for his dedication to freedom for all.

President Reagan’s final resting place:

Some photos from inside the library…

Lt. Ronald Reagan’s Cavalry uniform & saddle:

This is Nancy & Ronald’s booth from Chasen’s restaurant (it was always reserved for them). He proposed to her while sitting in this booth at Chasen’s.

The Oval Office was duplicated exactly for the Reagan Library.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Reagan!

our first food truck visit


Canter’s Delicatessen

* * * * *

We were patiently waiting for the truck to open…

when into the driveway comes ANOTHER food truck…

Ride or Fry


We ordered from Canter’s since that’s what we’d come for. I had bought a perk from Urban Daddy for an Uber Reuben sandwich with truffle oil mustard and gruyere cheese (and a side of off-menu fries), so I checked the schedules for the Canter’s truck and we went down to Burbank and found it. We’ve been going to Canter’s (the restaurant) in the Fairfax district for 30+ years, so it was only logical (to me anyway) to GET THIS PERK, go find the Canter’s truck and enjoy a decadent version of their wonderful Reuben sandwich… and it truly was a very tasty sandwich.


Here’s the facebook notification of place and time for the Canter’s food truck:


Wednesday, February 2 at 12:00pm at 2900 W Alameda, Burbank, CA
Canter’s Truck will be in Burbank for lunch Wednesday at 2900 W Alameda from 12-2p. Menu:

back yard shots

Our back yard is looking better all the time. Don’t you just love spring? Everything looks so pretty and fresh… too bad it can’t stay that way all year ’round.

The gnome is having a good time swinging amongst the irises.

The roses are all in bloom. If only the hollyhocks would hurry up and bloom…

Seymour and her entourage are enjoying the warm days.

80+ degrees. Perfect.

just another tv addict

One of my favorite photos… he’s so darn cute!