Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mama Mia! (visits LA)

So even though November isn't the most beautiful month of the year in Southern California, it warmer than Minnesota and my mom flew down and over to LA for a long weekend. It was great to just see her and spend time together, as well as get out of my routine and do some vacation-esque activities I have not been able to do since I moved here and have found a weekly pattern and because of finances.

Thursday she came early in the morning, spend the day in Hollywood wandering around, then drove to Pasadena to meet me at work, see the Ecumenical Council and what we're doing and get the scenic tour of Pasadena, Altadena, Eagle Rock and Glendale (more or less my neighborhood.) She determined: It is a great area. There are more trees, green spaces and less congestion up on this side of LA than San Francisco and the part of LA where we ended up staying (by LAX). We came to my apartment briefly, met my roommate Hannah and drove down along the highways to the hotel.

Friday we were lucky with weather. There was looming rain all day, but for most of the morning and afternoon it was sunny. We drove to the ocean, found the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) and went north. We stopped in Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach, Santa Monica and Malibu along the ocean to get a feel for all the different kinds of towns. We also swung by Perpperdine University, where Anna Cashman decided she wanted to go to college when she was 12 to take some pictures and grab some pamphlets. If you know anything about southern California schools you know it's a VERY nice school in a VERY nice location.

Anyway: a beautiful day at Manhattan Beach!

Beach-side residences. "Too close together" is Mama's judgement. That was mostly what she had to say about any house in LA, though.

And Malibu!! As far north as we got.

Venice Beach.

At the Getty Villa: a smaller version of the Getty Museum in LA. It's in Malibu on the ocean. Lots of gardens and art and amazing scenery. The whole museum is designed to look like an old villa from Italy that was destroyed in a volcano. What you can do when you are the richest man in the world and have all the money to spend in the world...

Oh right, and Muscle Beach!!

Day two: We went down to Long Beach to tour the Queen Mary, a luxury ocean liner which later severed as a WWII troop carrying ship, then again as a liner. Now it lives in Long Beach and you can tour it, learn all about the supposed ghosts on the ship as well as rent ball rooms and hotel rooms. Very cool day. Cloudier and cooler, but no pouring rain, so not too bad.

From the front - a cloudy day in Long Beach, CA.

We also went to Watts Towers on Saturday. These amazing pieces of public art were created by a tiny (4 foot, 10 inch tall) Italian man named Simon over the course of 33 years. He immigrated to the United States to flee conscription and lived in Pennsylvania, Washington and all over California working as a miner, builder and working at the Malibu Tile Compnay before he bought this piece of land and built his life's work. It's hard to get the full view of the place and the artwork, but its an entire pavilion of mosaic towers, spires, ground and walls. His house was in the middle of it, and when you get a good look at it, you see it's in the shape of a ship, pointed towards Italy carrying relics and replicas of a ceremony from his Italian village involving three towers and a ship statue.

When he was in his 70's, he had some sort of accident, fell, and couldn't move for several days. After that he decided he was done, deeded the land to a neighbor and never came back. It's a very amazing piece of public art, and is work getting the tour since I've been there a few times now and not until now did we do the tour. Without it, its impossible to get the fully story and affect of the place.

From the inside of the towers.

The replica of the ship used in the festival from his hometown.

There are hearts all over the artwork. I'm not sure what this theme was about, but they are everywhere.

All in all, it was a great weekend spent with Mama driving around LA, relaxing and exploring parts of the city I do and don't know. And getting mother's approval of the place your living is always a plus.

Today my roommates and I spent the afternoon cooking a huge meal for the entire group (25 people) for our monthly-gathering. We over-estimated how much the boys in the program would eat, and we've got a fridge full of pasta and lasagna (we did an Italian feast). This is not the worst thing in the world for me, as anyone who has ever eaten with me knows. I'm headed to bed early this evening, because I am entering one of the busiest weeks of the year, with a fundraiser for our bad weather shelter on Thrusday night, a full week of work and the Thanksgiving give away all weekend long, then another week of work. Then again, it is Thanksgiving week, so I'll make the break really worth it.

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